They say you never forget your first Doctor, and I suppose that’s true. Christopher Eccleston’s Nine was my introduction into the world of Doctor Who, a world that has helped me make sense of my own.
But the Eleventh Doctor will always be my favorite. Unlike his often-brooding predecessors, Matt Smith brought a sense of whimsy and adventure to the show. No matter the danger the Eleventh Doctor faced, he always jumped in head-first, with a single word: “Geronimo.”
Now, I’m not the Doctor. I’m not fearless or immortal or super freaking cool. I’m human (and, you know, real), and I have human fears: death, destruction, the dark. Those fears are (mostly) reasonable – but I also have plenty of unreasonable fears, fears that hold me back from living the kind of life I want. (And no, I’m not talking about my fear of sloths.)
My fears can be lumped into two categories: my fear of the unknown, and my fear that I’m not good enough. And though the two are very different, they share one thing in common: they leave me unable to do the things I want to do.
Fearing the unknown has turned me into an absolute control freak. I plan everything – even lazy Saturdays at home – and put hours of research and thought into any activity I consider doing. It took me months to work up the nerve to go to yoga, and my itinerary for our trip to Scotland was laughably detailed. Hell, I even decide what I’m going to eat at a restaurant before I even leave the house.
Consequently, I don’t enjoy situations where I feel out of control. And in new situations – going to new places, meeting new people, trying new things – I have no choice but to let go of that control and stumble around in the dark until I figure out what I’m doing.
Did I mention I’m afraid of the dark?
Combine that with my fear that I’m not good or strong or thin enough, and it’s nearly debilitating for me to push out of my comfort zone and try new things. When I can, I take a security blanket with me – my husband or my sister or my cellphone – and when I can’t…well, usually, I just stay home.
But I’ve been trying. Last month, I flew to Scotland by myself – through Heathrow airport, no less – to take part in a four-day work conference before my husband could join me. And during our entire three weeks in Scotland, we had to tackle something new every day: among a million other things, we were left figuring out the showers; driving on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car; navigating the Scottish countryside; deciphering a thick Scottish brogue; eating foods like haggis and black pudding; hiking to a fairy glen; coordinating a bus tour for ourselves; and figuring out public transit (including the tube in London, the largest and craziest city I’ve ever been in.)
I couldn’t have planned for those things. I didn’t even know to expect them. But we did them, and while it was often stressful, it showed me that when you let go of fear and embrace your inner strength, you’ll see and do things you never thought you could.
Now that I’m back home, my fear is pushing in again. It’s telling me that I’m not enough. It’s telling me that jumping into the unknown is scary, too scary. It’s telling me it’s better to live a mediocre life than it is to try and fail.
You know what I say to that?