14. What Are You Afraid of?

Listen to the essay instead.


I don’t get out much. I haven’t worn pants in three weeks. I refuse to shave, which is especially horrifying as I usually razor my head and my face weekly. Right now I’m slouched over like a lobotomy patient with seventeen hairs tickling my lips and a piece of Astro-turf wrapped around my head.

We’re locked in. Our bodies and minds trapped in this new M. Night Shyamalan movie called life. And like every other movie he’s made, it’s scary, confusing and well, it kind of sucks. But there’s nothing any schmuck like you or I can do about it, unless you’ve been practicing your medicinal vaccinations again. You devil, you.

Reluctant social distancing and relentless social media-ing has got me asking myself some deep, sprawling questions lately. How has my girlfriend not murdered me yet? Will she? Does Justin Trudeau always talk like that? How much money have I spent at bars in my life? Can I hug the pizza delivery guy?

In these dark times, I’ve discovered a new perspective of who I am and how I act. It’s given me a look in to tomorrow, and made me realize what tomorrow’s years from now might be like.

I’m afraid of getting old.

I don’t want to wake up one day, excavate my Rosie O’Donnell body out of bed and not be able to do karate kicks around the office or hour-long sweat sucking workouts.

Look, I know I’m no Mister Universe. I could barely place in the Mister Central St. Boniface competition. But regardless, I am someone who enjoys physical activity and someone who needs it to remain as mentally stable as I can be. I need to go somewhere – like an actual building designated for working out – and get my daily dose of stress prevention.

So here I am locked inside, gym closed, with nothing to do, wondering if this is somehow some sick preview into being an old man. Right now, I basically live the life of a retiree, minus the travel and boat shoes.

The real scary thing is I have no say in the matter. Whether I like it or not, there will be a day I suffer constant knee pain, back pain, hip pain, foot pain and ear pain. I’ve heard the reviews, physically, getting old seems like a nightmare, especially for someone who really leans on physical activity.

I’m a spring chicken right now. I don’t want to be an old mare.

So until I lose this race against time, I’ll fight on, utilizing every last morsel of youth I have left.

Wait, what was I saying?



We renovated our house one summer, back when Mom still tied our water balloons for us, and my knees were perpetually scabbed and full of gravel. 

Every day, a crew showed up in hard hats and steel-toed boots. They walked in and around our plastic covered hallways, smoked cigarettes in the driveway and drank coffee around our table in the afternoon. My brothers were getting brand new bedrooms, which meant they didn’t have to all share the same bunk-bed anymore, but it meant I wanted a new bedroom too. 

Dad agreed to paint my white walls whatever shade I picked out at the Co-op hardware store. I chose Lilac Purple for the walls and lime green for the furniture. Some years later while my parents were out of town for a week, I went down to the hardware store by myself. Having grown out of my plush, purple accessories, I painted my walls baby blue and the furniture back to a crisp white.

I’ve reached an age where I can look back on my calendar of life and see where the seasons changed. Friendships blossoming and other ones fading. New hobbies and beliefs being brought in and thrown out just the paint on my walls. And just like me and my bedroom have changed from purple, to blue, to dorm room drywall, my fears have changed too.

As a child, my biggest fear was moving. I was so afraid that one day I would have to say goodbye to my house, my school, my bus driver Mr. Neufeld. How awful it would be to leave everything I knew – to have to be the stinky new kid one scary September day.

Years went by and my fear of moving dissolved. I started spending less time at home in my blue bedroom and more time biking around town, drinking root beer slushies and hanging out with boys at the playground. They told tales about the freaks in tank tops who strolled around town, how these 30-year-old men stared at little girls and sold drugs to the high schoolers.

I heard one too many “This happened to my cousin from Carberry” stories for me to trust any guy I didn’t know. Every car that passed me on the highway or man who smiled at me made my heart race and armpits sweat. My 14-year-old brain fabricated scary scenarios involving garden sheds and search teams. I’m not sure when I grew out of this fear, or if I fully have. Today, my fear of men is less irrational and more of a natural instinct. Be aware of the assholes.

In high school, I was too afraid to even look out the window of the CN tower in Toronto, for fear of somehow falling. But at the age of 19, I was able to explore European cities all alone, and not feel anxious once. Falling in love with him was terrifying, but losing her to cancer was a nightmare.  

I’m 24 today, and as it stands, I’m mostly afraid of how fragile life is, and how quickly it can change. The good today, might be gone tomorrow.

Avoiding high places is easy when you’re afraid of heights. Take the train, not the plane. Dump your skydiving boyfriend and stay away from steep stairwells. But being afraid of what tomorrow might bring is harder to live with. I do my best to appreciate everything as it is right now, and believe in what the Pinterest quote says – Everything happens for a reason.

This fear will dissolve just like the others, or at least become less daunting. Then some other scary thing else will take its place as soon as I’m strong enough to handle it – or better yet, learn from it.