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10 Terrifying Things About Life I Need to Get Over to Be Successful

After a tumultuous 2016, I’m declaring 2017 the Year of No Fear. I realized this past fall that I was under a ton of stress, and that most of it came from my social media feeds and watching the nightly news. It’s important to be informed, of course, but somewhere along the way things changed from noteworthy to downright terrifying.

In addition to dialing back by media consumption this year, I’ve also resolved to tackle some of my biggest fears. I’m sharing 10 of them, and while I don’t’ know if that’s a little, a lot or about the same as everyone else, it seemed like a good round number that I could focus on.

Here’s what I’m learning to get past this coming year.

Car Accidents

If you turn on your local station, you’ll probably see at least one deadly car accident a day – and probably more, depending on where you live. It makes it look like people are dying in fiery wrecks all the time. Not true! The average person has only about a 1 in 48,000 chance of being killed in a car accident.

How I’m Handling It

Knowing the real odds makes me feel better already, but just to be safe, I put together a car safety kit in case of emergency.

Getting Kidnapped While Running

In another case of “thanks for nothing, local news,” it seems like rapists are hiding in the bushes, waiting to pounce when I’m out on my jog. This is not at all helpful when I’m trying to psych myself up to keep my fitness resolutions — it’s hard enough to get psyched for a run, let alone one at twilight after a long day at work.

How I’m Handling It

More facts! I checked out my neighborhood on the MyLocalCrime database, and it turns out there are literally zero violent crimes in my neighborhood. There’s also a map to help you plan safer routes.

House Fires

Ever since a friend had her furnace go up in flames in her basement, I’ve been having nightmarish visions of my house catching fire. Most recently, my evil cat was the culprit and somehow thumblessly lit the match on purpose. Imagining losing my pictures of the kids and our wedding makes me tear up.

How I’m Handling It

We already have smoke detectors, but I hit the hardware store and got a small fire extinguisher for the basement and kitchen — that’s what saved my friend’s house.

The Heroin Epidemic

Speaking of my kids, I have several specific fears about what their lives will be like, and those fears are the worst. In particular, I worry — a lot! — about the heroin epidemic and a whole generation being lost to the addiction. I trust my kids, but how do you fight a cultural epidemic?

How I’m Handling It

Knowing that heroin isn’t exactly a leisure drug helps — people usually turn to it after becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. We’ll be asking lots of questions if a scrip ever comes our way, and talking openly with our kids about saying no to drugs.

Spiders

Don’t tell me you don’t share my fear. The legs! The eyes! The way they lurk in corners! Spiders are the worst.

How I’m Handling It

Once a month, I deep clean one room in the house. That includes using the crevice attachment to my vacuum everywhere. No egg sacs (gross!) means no more spiders.

Drowning

You know how some people love swimming? I’m not one of them — probably because I’m not very good at it. I have a complete phobia of drowning and had to leave the theater before the end of Titanic.

How I’m Handling It

Taking swim lessons. Yup. As a grown up. And my daughter will be getting them, too! And when the time comes we’ll all follow the buddy system for recreation swimming.

Missing My Kid’s Childhoods

There’s so much to do every day that it sometimes feels impossible to “be in the moment” the way all those Zen-master mommy gurus tell you to. If we all get dinner before 8 p.m., it feels like a win. I often fear that I’m missing the best parts in the rush, and I’ll regret it later.

How I’m Handling It

Screen-free dinners and activities. The dinner is a no-brainer, but I’ve found that I enjoy their events much more when I’m not trying to preserve it for posterity. We never actually watch any of those video clips anyway, and without the phone in hand, I’m much more “in the moment.”

Not Being Able to Retire

The stock market totally stresses me out with its roller coaster-y ways. Add to that a real concern that I’ll never get a Social Security check like my parents and grandparents, and it’s hard to imagine ever being able to stop working and enjoy being a little old lady.

How I’m Handling It

I started reading up about frugal living and have cut some of our expenses — like my shoe budget, for example. Instead of letting that money sit around waiting to be spent on something else, I started shifting it directly into a Roth IRA.

Public Speaking 

This one’s tough, because it can hold you back at work. I might have the best ideas, but if I can’t work up the guts to put them out there in a meeting, I’ll never get ahead. It also can make meeting people hard on a personal level, too.

How I’m Handling It

I took an online course! It worked for me because it started as an objective, academic look at speechwriting, which made everything seem more doable. It let me build confidence before trying it out in real life, which was cool.

Having a Heart Attack

They don’t run in my family, but it seems like an awful, sudden way to die. Not to mention they happen quite frequently, since in general we all eat too much and exercise way too little.

How I’m Handling It

Learning the symptoms for women’s heart attacks is important. They’re rarely the classic chest pain we’ve all heard about. Knowing that I’ll recognize the signs is empowering.

As I look back over my biggest fears, there’s a theme: Knowledge is power. The more I learned about each fear, the less paralyzed I felt. There’s almost always something I can do about my fears, and the same is true for you

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