The Irony of Fear

I was practically born in frilly white socks and black patent leather shoes. Or at least that’s what I was wearing in most of my earliest childhood memories, and if my memory serves me correctly, I was dressed in some variation of this infamous infant to adolescent Baptist baby girl uniform every Sunday. I filed in to the same pew alongside my grandmother in her hats and candy in her purse, my grandfather in his tie and his gentle hums and my young but older and cooler aunt in her braces and preteen freedom. My sister and brother would join us eventually though my grandfather would find another church, and my aunt would start to sit with her friends more often than not. We were worker ants carrying bibles like crumbs bigger than our bodies, but we willingly followed the queen who insisted we attend the eight o’clock service. For one, we knew we had no choice but also that breakfast at Shoney’s or lunch at Golden Corral would follow if we cooperated with enthusiasm.


While I quite literally did not wake up until well into the service, it’s safe to say I was practically raised in church. When my mind was nothing more than mush mixed with a few words, a few colors and a few feeble morals, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church was the sculptor molding my heart like clay with values and beliefs that I would possibly never forget. And so today, as an adult, a writer, a human being relentlessly searching for virtues and vices that might make life easier to bare, my idle mind often drifts to the unforgettable concepts I learned on Kempsville Road like love of self and others, forgiveness, optimism and hope for better days, faith, and second chances. Though life has remolded my heart and mind again and again, these are the bricks my foundation was built on, and they are the anchors that keep me grounded. I’ve turned them into affirmations for my daily sanity.


On page 56 of my debut poetry collection, Forget Me Not, is my favorite. I say it to myself every day, multiple times a day when I’m feeling doubtful, worried or down right scared about anything from money to relationships. It was inspired by Psalm 27:1 which reads “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” But I assure myself in moments of sometimes crippling fear … “you have everything you need.”


Despite what seems like infinite and exponentially growing anxiety, the simple truth calms me as I am reminded that I have the basic necessities to survive. Even more so, I am soothed by the gentle reminder that I have the resources, the creativity and tenacity to realize all my goals.

The reality is sure to look different than the dream. The route may be different, longer, bumpier, more uncomfortable than we ever imagined and knowing that possibility, we give ourselves a million reasons why our dreams are impossible. We say we’ve given up because of unforeseen circumstances, finances, lack of opportunities, no time or that we were just dealt a bad hand from the beginning of it all. But it is usually not any of these reasons truly that hold any of us back. Instead, we are stuck in a pool of impotence that sucks us like quicksand and drowns us in excuses that are actually fear. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of trying new things. Fear of thinking never before thoughts. Fear of failing. Fear of loving and losing. Fear of hard work. Fear of the responsibility that comes with success. Fear of becoming what we’ve always wanted. Fear of even fear itself.


But that begs the question, if it is a fact that I have everything I need, and it indeed is … then why, knowing this, am I still sometimes so afraid?


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ZaMari Love is a Hampton University alumna, graduate student, public servant and poet from Virginia. She uses the art as a form of catharsis and as a way to make sense of the parts of life that seem inexplicable. Her self-published collection titled "Forget Me Not" debuted on April 1, 2019. Aside from writing, ZaMari loves singing, reading, painting and laughing over wine.


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