On fear

Not long ago, a woman was brutally assaulted and raped in the grounds of a high school that I nearly went to, and that lots of my peers attended. In broad daylight.

That led my dear mother to voice concern about the walkway that I take everyday on the way to work and back. It’s a path that winds over a creek, through bush, behind a school field, and that’s generally well away from main roads. It’s reasonably well frequented, however – by mothers with prams, runners, elderly people and schoolkids.

As a woman – and particularly a small and physically weak one – I know I’m vulnerable.

But I refuse to be cowed. I refuse to live my life in a permanent state of fear.

Did we stop flying after 9/11?

Do we give up driving after being hit by speeding drivers?

There is good fear – fear of the worst case scenario that leads us to make plan B

Fear of failure can go both ways – it can act as a motivator, or a paralyser.

There’s social fear, something I know all too well and generally does no good.

Fear of taking a leap into the unknown.

And there are plenty more types of fear – you probably have a few close to your heart.

There is caution, and then there is being afraid to live your life. It can be dangerous out there – that’s a fact – but the “scary world syndrome” reinforced by news coverage of crimes may raise our blood pressure levels unnecessarily.

Attacks can happen to anyone. One of T’s good friends was badly assaulted while walking home one night from our apartment a few years ago.  He’s not big but is fierce and I’ve heard enough stories about him prevailing in fights at drunken parties – he can defend himself. Still, one person against a group has no chance.

While I appreciate Mum’s concern, I’m not going to nearly double my daily journey just to stick to the main roads. After all, that’s no guarantee of safety either.

I used to walk alone a lot in the dark. I worked well past sunset, and would walk home from the bus stop around 9pm (later sometimes). At our most recent abode, I often – not always – took a shortcut through a park with no lighting, even though it only saved me a couple of minutes. I probably wouldn’t do that today.

I think it really boils down to this: avoid taking unnecessary risks. Nothing in life comes without an element of risk. Be smart about where you gamble.

7 thoughts on “On fear

  1. Yeah…scary! Could you carry some mace or something to ease your (mom’s) mind?

    I cut through a cemetery each day on my way to work to reduce my commute time. On my way home, if it is dark, I do not walk through there. No way. (It isn’t the ghosts that scare me, it’s the ruffians that hang out in there even during the day, and the fact that at night, there is ZERO visibility through there. I did it ONCE at night and I swore to myself I’d never do it again.) So I hear you about smart choices.

  2. Looks like you know how to be vigilant and make use your wits. Fear is just uncertainty about the unknown. Once we know, we have the power to use common sense and not be afraid ಥ‿ಥ
    Stay out of secluded areas, walk with others whenever possible, carry a cell phone at all times, and wear a nose ring, even if it’s fake. It will send the message: Don’t mess with me! I’m tougher than I look ಠ益ಠ

  3. Very scary… I totally have the mentality of your mom though. Once I sense danger I avoid situations of that nature to the extreme (I really ought to stop). My mother on the other hand tells me I’m crazy and that there’s no real danger in walking home through the suburbs at 1am. I beg to differ.

    When I was 19/20, I lived downtown and would walk home from work at 2/3/4 in the morning all la di da, without a care in the world. One day someone pretended to grab my purse and since I’ve been scared of everyone who comes near me.

    Also, my phone was stolen out of my hands near the library so I’m super nervous going near there now (iphone violence has since increased in that area).

  4. Whenever I walk to my car after work late at night it’s dark and I have to pass through an area that has no lights whatsoever. Sometimes I hold pepperspray in my hand but I feel like talking on the phone would be safer -even though I know it’s frowned upon-. Nonetheless, I try to be quick on my toes and just shuffle quickly towards my car =)

  5. That is scary. It’s important to be cautious, but we can’t live in a state of fear all the time. A couple of women have reportedly been assaulted in the parking lot right next to where I live, and the subway station nearby sometimes has shady deals going on at night. Usually it’s a safe area, but things like that… but you just have to take precautions. Things like that unfortunately happen everywhere.

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