Column: Overcoming a constant companion


Parker Nolan

Reporter and columnist Hannah Ortega shares on her struggles with fear.

Hannah Ortega, Campus Life Editor


An old friend of mine.

He’s been creeping around in my mind for as long as I can remember.


Festering in me and pestering me. Threatening to consume me.


What kept me from getting behind the wheel of a car for more than a year.


What keeps me up at night as I scramble to finish the pile of worksheets in front of me.


What strikes me with every college letter that I receive, for I ask myself, “Where will I go? What will I do with my life?”


What if? What if?

Fear is a tapeworm of the mind– it’s never full, never satisfied until there’s no hope, no joy left in me.

Fear is an invisible chain around my heart that tightens all the time until I feel I will burst. Oh, how it hurts.

Fear drills its way into my brain and morphs my thoughts into something deadly and self-deprecating. I sink deeper and deeper into them until I see them as true.

Fear of failure is ingrained in my bones. With every test, it taunts me. With every competition, it haunts me.

Fear of being a disappointment pounds in my heart. “You’re better than this, do better than this!” I scream. “Do you want to fail them?”

Fear of being unliked or not what people expect poisons my veins. How can I meet all the expectations people have set for me? How can I be who people want me to be, how they see me? I can’t be perfect, no matter how hard I try.

Fear holds me back too much of the time, and I know it shouldn’t. It holds me back from speaking, from daring, from living, and I know it shouldn’t.

So every day I go into the world, one trembling step at a time, treading the line between courage and fear, one side a glowing plain and the other a plunging abyss, from which fear hisses and grabs at me.

Every day I go into the world and try to keep my eyes up, focused on the plain, or at least the blank, neutral sky ahead of me. I learn to trust, to relax, to breathe, to smile, to see the light. With every step, I learn how to lessen fear’s grip on me.

The process is slow and excruciating, but I’m willing to take the journey.

I have to be.