on fear

i have a fear of physical violence. an alone in the woods kind of thing. this keeps me indoors at night and it makes me unwilling to put myself in situations where i'd be the only woman among a group of men in relative isolation (see: being female among fishermen and the movie "wild"). this is very limiting! here are some of my thoughts about fear and keeping your wits about you.

try to never find yourself in an emergency (defined as a situation where you have no options). most women i know are experts at this.

it's actually not accurate to say "i fear having violence happen to me." i navigate an environment filled with the possibility of violence (for example, cars), but i'm not scared around cars. i'm attuned to the risk and i try my animal-best to navigate through the dangerous situation (see: the movie "gravity" and this perspective from frank de winne, an astronaut on the ISS).

fear paralyzes you when you need to do rapid problem-solving to get out of a potentially physically dangerous situation. you are so gripped by the "but what if i get hurt!" thought (aka fear) that you can't start figuring out a solution to the problem.

the solution to fear is to accept that something physically dangerous and/or painful WILL happen to you. (for example: property crime). you accept that when you cross the street you may be murdered by a car, usually (barring personal circumstances) without experiencing the kind of paralyzing fear that might make you freeze and grab onto your seat when the plane starts shaking with turbulence.

if you find yourself in a potentially vulnerable situation, try to find the most defensible position. then you can feel confident while you improve your defenses.

if your defensive strategy is to retreat into the shadows (see: "revealing the leopard" documentary), just remember that you might find yourself in a corner, boxing yourself up in a box that is too small for you to actually live in. don't kid yourself into thinking that you can actually live in a too-small box. one's humanity has a way of leaking out. so if you do find yourself in a box, start looking for escape hatches immediately - ideally before you even start boxing yourself up. and beware denial! there is no shame in discovering that you have been trapped. there's only forward.

on the other end of the spectrum is "hmm...how could i MOST take advantage of the situation i find myself in?" it's a learnable perspective (see: carol dweck "growth mindset"). if it doesn't come naturally to you, that's ok. just try to remember to ask yourself that question when you're in a tough spot. with practice, it'll become more natural.