Failure.
Death.
The future.
The past.
The unknown.

What am I afraid of? This list only encompasses a few of the fears that leave me restless.

This past tuesday, Student Council held an assembly when “professional teenager” Mike Smith spoke to the student body, offering us his story in order to emphasize the impact of kindness. One of the points Smith brought up during his speech was the idea that this generation of teenagers is the most fearful of any generation. His words got me thinking about the concept of fear and why we, as adolescents, are so fearful.

Fear is a human emotion that every person of every age group and demographic undeniably experiences, and it is arguably one of the most important emotions we feel. Writers/illustrators Emily V. Gordon and Esme Blegvad write: “[Fear] can keep you away from danger, alert you to conflicts within yourself, prepare you to fight or fly, and make you feel amazingly alive.”

When people allow fear to dictate their life entirely, they are hardly living at all.

But what makes this generation more afraid than any generation prior? I believe it is partially because we live in a world where so much information is at our fingertips, that anything unknown is scary. Additionally, for high schoolers, and especially for high school seniors, the future is an extremely intimidating fate that is constantly staring us all in the face. With the rise of the internet and extensive resources, more and more is expected of us.

We are expected to complete a theoretical checklist of what we need to do and achieve in order to be successful (i.e. have a perfect GPA and SAT/ACT scores, pursue several extracurriculars, etc.) and if we make a mistake, our entire future is put in jeopardy. Black widows, tall cliffs and pitch dark rooms pale in comparison to the fear of failure.

I personally have my fair share of fears; for example, one fear I’ve had lately has come from the fact that Donald Trump is being taken seriously as a presidential candidate (because I do not want America to look like this).

Another fear I have is saying the wrong thing. During a recent competition, my fear and anxiety about saying the wrong thing or sounding dumb prevented me from speaking up, even when I knew the answer to the question(s) being asked. It is easier for me to write because I can condense and edit what I say so that it sounds eloquent and well put together. However, when put on the spot, my fear prevents me from expressing the same thoughts I can express in writing vocally.

What I’ve come to notice is that my fear almost always roots back to 1) insecurity and 2) lack of control. However, if there is anything I have learned from the recent loss of my mother, it is that living in fear is an arbitrary way to live— because we can never truly be prepared for anything. One of my greatest fears became a reality, but there was nothing I could have done to prevent it from happening. To me, that is the scariest part about living, but when people allow fear to dictate their life entirely, they are hardly living at all.

Sure, it is easy to lie on the floor all day listening to Sia’s “1000 Forms of Fear,” avoiding horror films and roller coasters at all costs, and living life safely in one’s comfort zone (all of which I am completely guilty of.) But at some point, we must let all those lingering fears go, accept life as it is, and start truly living.