Well, now that that's over with...
20 minutes ago, we girls of the Jane Bay dorm thought that a tornado was going to come plowing across campus. There was a warning in effect for our county until 8pm, when the red and yellow parts on the radar finally passed (and a funnel cloud heading our way). Apparently, the funnel cloud didn't funnel enough. When I was little, I used to be terrified of tornados, but now I guess I have this sort of infatuation with them. So while most of the girls were freaking out, I was anxiously looking out the window to see if it was here yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suicidal or anything. I don't want to be in the direct path of a tornado, nor do I want it to destroy the campus, but it would be kinda cool to see a funnel cloud tear the tops off a few trees. Maybe you think I'm crazy.
When I was younger, I would stare out the window of the car as we drove through storms, asking, "Mommy, is that a funnel cloud?" Even now I stare anxiously at the clouds, hoping to see a little swirling. So although I'm glad nobody got hurt, I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get to see anything.
It's kind of weird. My biggest fears as a kid were tornados, bees, fire, blood, and heights (don't laugh, I was a squeamish kid). Although I still haven't gotten the roller-coaster thing down, I almost gave blood last tuesday (I couldn't because I wasn't able to get the permission slip signed), I have a strange infatuation with candles and matches (they're just so much fun to play with!), I'm in the beekeeping club at school, and I desperately want to see a tornado form. Maybe I'm overcompensating for my former fears, but is it possible that these things are also helping me get over them?
Earlier today, Meg (my twin, known around here as Cadence62 in case you want to tease her (PLEASE DO!)) was being careless with a razor blade and sliced a little flap of skin off the top of her finger. She ran back to the room in a towel freaking out and sobbing with it embalmed in her towel, too scared to look at it. After talking her down to it, I got her to let go of the towel and let me see it, which wasn't actually that bad. I mentioned as a side-note that if it didn't stop bleeding in an hour she should go get stitches and the freaking out returned. I ended up chasing her around campus with a band-aid as she went to the athletic trainers' only to be laughed at and given a little neosporin.
Now this may sound like a silly anecdote and crazy tangent, but a few years ago, I'd have been freaking out just as much as she was if she told me that she cut a piece of skin off her fingertip with a razor blade. I was incredibly squeamish about anything to do with wounds (you would have thought a hyena was being murdered if you heard me getting a shot), and now I was (attempting to) re-align a piece of skin with the fingertip from whence it came. Similarly, after going down to the hives, I've stopped freaking out when I see a bee circling my coke, and when logs fall to the front in the fireplace at home, I'm not paralyzed by the fear of dropping it. And when I found out that a tornado might be coming in the next 20 to 30 minutes, I didn't panic; in fact, I was sort of excited.
It's probably not healthy to want to get close to a tornado. My parents certainly think so. They've categorically ruled out storm chasing and war reporting as possible career options within the journalism field (I think it would be fun!), and are constantly bugging me with Lara Logan rape stories to try to talk me out of the latter. But there's nothing wrong with being unafraid of things that most people run away from. Bring on the blood and guts, the hanging on palm trees during a hurricane with a handheld cam tethered to the ground and tracking my every move, the revolutions, the wildfires, the swarms of bees. If my mom read this, she would get pretty damn worked up, but I'm not afraid of the random crap that scares most people, and used to scare me.
I wonder if forcing oneself to face fear is a good solution for them. Certainly it would be counterproductive to face the fear of death. But maybe just maybe it's useful in some cases. I heard from a reality-tv obsessed acquaintance about a show where obsessive compulsive people are forced out of their habits, which seems to work on air, but I wonder if the results last. I've heard that the people on the biggest loser gain back all the weight after the program ends. But what if it's self-motivated?
It seems kinda unhealthy to exorcise the fear out of people, to exorcise the fear out of myself. But I feel like it might be worth it. I'm certainly glad that I didn't freak out about the tornado today. I just wonder if bravery and boldness, in a kind of all-brawn-no-brain way foster false senses of security, or stupidity, or other problems. As I said earlier, it's not healthy to be fearless. It's fear that stops people from doing something stupid, and I certainly don't want to be the teenager who says with a low, brainless, emotionless voice, "wouldn't it be funny if..." because chances are, it wouldn't be funny; it would be stupid. But it also means escaping the paralysis and hinderance of irrational or implausible fears, like the paranoia of a fear of tornados, or the hyena screams over tetanus shots. In any case, whether I like it or not, I'm desensitized to the usual fears.