Sep 282011
Authors: Lydia Jorden

My friend Brooke and I stood outside my apartment, drenching ourselves in ice cold water as we exchanged glazed-eyed glares with passing neighbors.

We felt as though a bomb had detonated right in front of our eyes, and as we hosed ourselves down –– eyes, face and bodies burning –– we could only think about how we were the unfortunate victims of luck turned sour.

We were afraid of what would become of my apartment and how my roommates would react when they heard they needed to go elsewhere for the night.

What caused all this? A can of bear mace accidentally got sprayed in my living room.

I have been the target of some pretty unlikely occurrences: I’ve fallen off my bike straight into a rose bush and had to have thorns extracted from my skin. I’ve been chased by a fox. I was almost attacked by a dog whose owners referred to it as “harmless,” and I accidentally punched a cactus — long story.

I’m a smart person and chose to write those instances off as lessons learned. I make sure to round corners with enough space to avoid falling off my bike. I refrain from bothering geese and making myself a threat to a fox’s dinner. I learned to never walk past the house of the dog that almost had me for dinner, and I’ve learned to avoid cacti at all costs.

With all this experience enduring unfortunate events, one would think that if I had a previous terrifying accident involving a powerful can of mace that shoots up to a 50-foot range, I would have made some attempt to avoid it in the future.

My paranoia tells me to do otherwise. It tells me to keep the spray next to my bed, to walk with it to my car and to carry it around when I go out at night. But I undeniably forget the spray when I do go for walks, am out at night and in cases of fox and dog attacks.

So of course, when I need a 50-foot range of mace at least, it falls off a perfectly stable shelf, detonates in my apartment, onto Brooke’s leg and toward my face.

In this case, and many others, our own fear gets in the way of our lives.

Would my apartment be reeking of spicy bear mace, causing my throat and eyes to burn if not for my irrational need of a burglar deterrent?

Absolutely not.

Through these types of experiences, I’ve found that I’ve been able to bridge the gap between living my life completely carelessly and living my life with a completely irrational fear, consequently causing submission to the fear that controlled me.

Beginning the process of getting over my fears started with self-analysis. I knew what I feared, but finding out what aspect of a certain situation frightened me was the core of my apprehension.

It is not an easy feat to get over any fears, and by no means should limits be pushed to do so.

Though, I do encourage people to try to gain as much knowledge about their fear as they can. This can help them combat their fear from a variety of angles.

For example, an alarm system definitely eases the anxiety of my security being threatened, thus reducing the fear of a burglar, and easily removing the bear spray from my home.

I have gone through many experiences that have the potential to instill fearful emotions in me. It would easily be explainable for me to be afraid of dogs, but my prior experiences suggest most are friendly. The latter view of this example is what we, as human beings, need to consider when a moment of fear arises.

Some of us are luckier than others. Some of us go through life without any unfortunate circumstance that would cement a panic in that individual’s personality. But others are born with irrational fears, fear of the unknown or fear of death.

Confronting a fear is difficult, and by no means is it a rushed process. However, acknowledging a fear is a good first step to avoiding a similar situation as I did.

As I dried off from hosing myself down that night, I realized that I had an absolutely irrational way of dealing with my fear. A can of bear mace may deter an intruder, but I will likely hurt myself in the process.

My paranoia told me to succumb to fear. Reflecting on that paranoia showed me to control it.

Lydia Jorden is a junior business major. Her column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at

 Posted by at 3:21 pm

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