I've been having an interesting conversation on IRC about fear, and it got me thinking. Generally speaking, I said, I'm not afraid of anything – and if I realise I am, the sheer irrationality of it annoys me so that I have to go ahead and put myself into the situation where I have to deal with it. For instance, I hate spiders… really, really hate spiders. So when I get into contact with one, I capture it in a glass (or if it's small enough, in my hand) and really examine it in detail.

If I'm in a scary situation – a stuck, rattling elevator, for instance – and I determine there's nothing I can do about it, I tend to either take it easy or start joking about it. I have some very human fears which have to do with rejection, abandonment or social isolation, and I have a deep dislike for situations that require me to be presentable and extroverted. So I'm always the first volunteer for presentations. I become a tutor student. I drop everything familiar and go to Korea.

I don't know what it is that drives me on and keeps me looking for ways to challenge myself. I don't see myself as a very energetic or zealous person, or even ambitioned... A lot of times I fall back and fail to perform even the easiest tasks, but in the end I know there's no one else who will help me pick myself up again so there's nothing to do but to get up and keep going. I have a feeling that if I was happy with myself, with a normal self-esteem regarding my looks (oh, vanity) or talents, I wouldn't have to keep pushing myself onwards or keep looking for that mystical place where I'll feel at home.

In essence, then, maybe I am running away from one thing – facing myself – and all these other things just keep me distracted. But the idea of stopping here, and building a life here fills me with such dread and anxiety that I can feel it physically. It's not just a matter of having to find contentment in what I have here, but also a distinct feeling of failure. That there has to be more than this, and if I stop now it means giving up on life. I can only diagnose this condition as immaturity and naive belief in the grass that is greener on the other side.

And at the same time, I know life isn't going to get any better before I deal with my own internal monsters. When I'm ready...

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