I’m sitting on a flight home after a long day of client meetings, but instead of enjoying a glass of wine and paging through the in-flight magazine, I am counselling my colleague who is deathly afraid of flying.
Despite being heavily medicated, she still needs some serious hand holding (both figurative and literal) and watching her work through her fear has me pondering some fears of my own.
My fear of lifts for instance. Just the thought of taking a lift even one floor up has me breaking into a cold sweat. I’m not sure whether it’s being confined to a small space, or not being in control should it get stuck that terrifies me more, but it’s a fear I simply can’t shake.
So averse to taking lifts, I once even quit a job that required me to go in one on a daily basis
Okay, so it wasn’t a great job and I probably would have resigned regardless, but the lift was definitely a contributing factor. It didn’t help that the building was undergoing construction and the lifts were clad in black sheeting, making them seem even more unfriendly.
For the first week, I made my mother drive me in to the office every day and come up the lift with me. She obliged for a short while but then gently explained I needed to put on my big-girl pants as she also had a job to get to.
My next step was trying to negotiate with the builders to use the emergency stairs but apparently that was against building regulations – unless I was prepared to wear a hard hat. An option I seriously considered.
But vanity got the best of me so instead I took to waiting at the lifts every morning until I found some unsuspecting stranger going to the same floor as me and got in with them. As the doors closed, I turned into a complete wreck, and I suspect word spread because there seemed to be fewer people available to accompany me in the mornings. You can see now why that job was short-lived.
Having lived with this fear my entire adult life I know how limiting it can be, which is why I don’t want my kids to inherit it
So far I’ve managed to successfully explain mommy’s choice to take the stairs while daddy goes in the lift – “it’s a fun game kids. I’ll race you to the top” – but the older they get, the more astute they become so it’s only a matter of time before they start asking questions.
I’ve already noticed how my general anxiety has started to rub off on them – both are a little skittish when it comes to loud noises and dark rooms.
In the same way that I am encouraging my colleague to overcome her fear, I think it’s only right that I try to conquer my own
Of course, that’s not to say I will be visiting the top floor of any skyrise any time soon – unless it’s a rooftop bar with a strong cocktail waiting for me – but maybe I’ll take the lift instead of the stairs tomorrow at work. Baby steps right?
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