What Now, Fear?

In the car after a conversation I’d been dreading all summer, I stared out the window in an attempt to calm myself. Papa cleared his throat, staring into the road quietly as if to give me time for myself.

Papa’s attempt at casual conversation had ensured that all my worries regarding school came to the surface. School was something I worried about, and the future was something I tired ignoring with near success. University was not something I wanted to talk about, certainly not when I still had at least two years left.

In my vulnerability, my worries about this school year flooded my mind. Left with only a sense of panic, I tried to calm down as quietly as possible. Papa was still focused on the road, and I hoped I would be able to clear my head without making things worse.

My eyes watered as my frustration got the best of me. Clenching my jaw, I let some of the worries surface, keeping a steady hold on my emotions. I figured I could get past these thoughts if I processed them a bit, hoping my irritation wouldn’t make it harder. I fished through the pile of unanswered questions in my head, sighing as I attempted to focus. I was worried that even with the added experience of working for a mark, my Maths grade would plummet. I was worried that I’d be too stressed to do anything other than schoolwork. That path would only lead to more stress and isolation, and I didn’t need that either. I was worried my father wouldn’t trust me to do my work, even if he’d seen my potential last year. I was worried I would have the same time of anxiety every weekend as I had the last two years.

These things – scholar anxiety, isolation, stress – didn’t help me much, but there was something worse. Worse than stress and isolation, you ask? Yes. Fear of boredom, fear of feeling alone. Every weekend, I get up, and I feel like I have nothing useful to do. I sit around, stuck on how useless I feel. Being bored only makes the thoughts in my head grow louder, makes the anxiety get the best of me. Boredom comes if I don’t feel useful, or if I can’t seem to stimulate myself. It’s a cycle of sorts I’ve been attempting to avoid for a long time now.

Every summer, I become panicked over the simple idea of having two months off. It’s like one big, giant, horrible weekend. I have to find something to do, or else the anxiety will creep up, control me. At the beginning of the summer, I’m too busy wondering what the hell I’ll do with myself to worry about anything else. Most of the time, the only other ay these thoughts are introduced is if the summer’s ending. Then it’s no longer summer I have to worry about; it’s every weekend from then on.

I think about how vulnerable I get, and one simple sentence explains it all. It’s sad really. Sad that I’d rather be tired and drained and unsocial because of school, than have nothing to do around family. It’s sad that I cower behind school and books and TV shows to cover the fact that I can’t handle boredom and mystery.

Yes, this – all this crap – came flowing through because of casual discussion about the future, but that was the thing; the future is never a casual thing.  I had no reason to be angry with Papa; it wasn’t like he would have known. I could only be thankful for the fact that when I tuned back into reality, he was still staring ahead. For once, instead of wondering – making me more anxious and embarrassed – he pretended not to notice, trusted I could handle it. Took a leap of faith to hope that someone so scared could indeed console themselves.

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