I am those knots in your stomach.

Those sweaty palms.

Thump, thump, thump.

That’s me, making your heart beat faster. Work harder.

I’m that nervous tic, that furrowed brow, that biting at your lip.

I am the unseen.

That voice. Those unrelenting thoughts.

I am fear.

And I am here for very good reasons.

I remind you about your responsibilities and how people judge what you do.

‘This is different and different takes a lot of work,’ I say. ‘Not everyone likes different. That’s why we don’t do different.’

I am a cloak of security and comfort and familiarity.

Some say I’m a cloak of darkness, but that seems ironic coming from people who hark vulnerability as one of the great pillars of humanity.

Now, that’s real darkness. Vulnerability. Ugh. Showing people you are sad; that there are cracks in your façade.

Talk about ugly. And we can’t afford to be anything other than beautiful.

I’m also here to make sure you don’t burden anyone else with your ideas, your opinions.

I definitely want to make sure you don’t worry others with your problems and ask for help like a beggar. No way.

How am I ever going to find you someone to love if you just burden people like that?

I know better than anyone else that you can’t survive alone.

Isolated. Unsecure. Uncomfortable. Terrified.

I’m keeping you from these things.

Not that you ever thank me.
That’s okay. I’ll never leave you.

You can’t kill me.

“But, what if I can?”

A dim light in the darkness I wear.

But you’re going to have to work harder than that.

You’re going to have to make a lot more noise than me.

You’re going to have to question yourself and what you know. A lot.

It’s too much work for you. I don’t think you can do it. You’re too stupid.

“But, what if I’m not?”

More light streams through the first tear.

“Who are you to tell me I can’t?”

A ray.

“How can I stay like this and never know if there is another way?”

A beam.

“I need you to look after me, fear, but I also need to explore. To discover. To wonder.”

Suddenly, the sun rises.

But, just like each and every day, the night will come again.

Darkness will come.

I will come.

And we’ll start this conversation all over again.

Do you have what it takes?

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