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Finally wearing my non-practical, pretty shoes

FDR once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

I fear a lot of things. I fear death. I fear losing my loved ones. I fear a future that is not sustainable for the following generations. I fear pain, loss, injury, disappointment, lack of control. But mostly, I fear fear. FDR had it right. I have let my fear, namely my fear of death, control my present.

I’m only 25, and while I have a family, I’d hardly say I’ve left a legacy. There are so many THINGS I want to do with my life. And, I have a while before I will get to them, unfortunately. I have to wade through the mundane (40 hour workweek, paying off the mortgage, financing my daughter’s private school) before I can really set my eyes on the prize. Retirement calls to me, and I have to constantly remind myself not to wish away my life.

But death. It’s so final. It’s so certain. Especially being an atheist, accepting death is difficult because it is accepting the end of existence. And how can I pass on my legacy if I no longer exist?

The media-infused world of hatred that I live in today terrifies me on the regular. I can still remember being a scared and confused 11 year old when the World Trade Centers collapsed. I was only 9 when Columbine happened. My twenties have been filled with even more war, terror, and fear.

Even so, I was able to keep a mental distance from the terror. It wasn’t happening in my small town. It wasn’t happening on my street. I was safe.

About five months ago, I was sitting in my supervisor’s office discussing a case. One of my coworkers and our floor’s safety monitor came in and said that it was rumored that someone in the building had a gun. Fight or flight mode? Nope. I started crying. Immediately. The loud speaker came on and announced that there was an active shooter in the building and we were to exit. I walked quickly across the sixth floor, in plain sight but trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, blocking out everything around me as I zoned in on the stairwell. As we evacuated the building minutes later, I texted my husband that I loved him, tears streaming down my face and my text grammatically incorrect because I was shaking too badly to type.

All was fine, and apparently it was just a plethora of misinformation that led to that terrifying day. But, ever since then, I’ve worn practical shoes. Tennis shoes. Slip-on sneakers. Shoes that would be good for running. I’ve never bought into the hundreds of pairs of heels thing, but I do like some cute flip flops every now and then. I’ve been too scared to wear them since that day. What if I need to escape, and I’ve chosen non-practical shoes? That could be a matter of life and death.

I am tired of living in fear. How silly is it that I actually let this scare of an incident impact my daily clothing choices? How silly is it that I am terrified to turn a corner in this building, and the hair on the back of my neck stands up every single time the fire alarm goes off?

If our building is ever faced with a similar scare, I will run like hell in my bare feet if I have too, but I can’t let those creeping emotions hide in the crevices of what sanity I have left.

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