A couple of months ago my sisters booked tickets to go see an event at the O2 arena, a popular event which many of you in the UK will know as the Jingle Bell Ball. An annual Christmas concert for music lovers. At the time we were very excited when we received tickets and we were looking forward to what would be (we presumed) a joyous and entertaining evening. However in light of the recent terrorist attacks, I was becoming more unsure of actually attending the event.
For the first time in my life I felt this fear that almost consumed me. I didn’t let it show, nor did I speak about it but inside my mind all I could think about was whether or not I would be safe going to the concert. There were moments when I was tempted to just cancel the whole evening. As it turns out, we did end up going and the experience has taught me a lot about fear itself.
The second we arrived at the O2, I had this deep sense of paranoia that was really quite suffocating. I kept thinking of the Paris attacks and the most recent attack at Leytonstone train station in East London. My mind automatically thought the worst, yet there was nothing in my line of vision to even provoke that sense of fear.
As we walked towards the arena entrance I saw an officer with a guard dog, standing and casually looking over the crowd. His seemingly calm demeanour didn’t hide the stark reality of why exactly he was standing guard over this crowd of strangers.
Our first steps into the arena were halted by employees and officers who scanned us and checked our belongings before letting us through into the dome. Although the security went a long way to reassure me that I would be okay, a part of me was saddened by just how much life has changed. The constant reminder of our lives being in danger is always around us and what hurts most is that no matter how much we say we won’t let fear ruin us or how we’ll go to a certain event to defy terrorists, deep down we’re all subjected to this claustrophobic atmosphere every time we’re reminded of what has happened.
We’re all human. Fear is an emotion that is hard to control, just as any other emotion we might feel. It’s brave to say that we will fight it and carry on as normal but are we really ever normal again? Becoming paranoid at a loud bang or a suspicious package is something almost everyone has probably now been a witness to. Being afraid does not mean I am weak, it does not mean I am a coward or that I will let terrorists win.
It means I’m human. I have the ability to feel and be humane because I’m afraid for myself and others. That’s an emotion we can’t force ourselves to ignore and it’s an emotion that we shouldn’t be ashamed of.
I sang and danced at the Jingle Bell Ball whilst also permanently memorising the closest exits to me and where I would need to run should anything happen. Just because I’m living life doesn’t mean I’ll forget, even for a moment, that my life can change within a second. Keeping calm and carrying on is a good motto in itself but so is learning to deal with your emotions. We can’t control emotions as much as we’d like to, so don’t hide them. Don’t be afraid of fear, instead accept it and accept that it will be a part of you.
This whole experience taught me that fear doesn’t have to be a weakness, it can be a strength. For one, I’ve become more vigilant and if you want to call that paranoia then you can. I’d rather be paranoid than sorry.
The point of this post wasn’t to demoralise any of you but for you to understand that at the end of the day it’s okay to be afraid and that we are better off sharing our vulnerabilities rather than hiding them away where they constantly eat at us. We are sadly living in a time where we have to live amongst monsters who wish to destroy the peace within humanity. They are monsters, who are incapable of feelings and emotions. But we are not, and that’s what makes us different. Our bravery, courage, strength and yes our fear makes us human and as humans we should use our emotions to make this world a better place. I’m not ashamed to say I’m afraid because I know, for me, being scared does not mean that I am not strong and I know that I will never give up without a fight.
Be afraid, be scared, accept fear as a part of yourself because it is fear that will give you the courage, strength and bravery you need to fight against monsters. What makes us different is our ability to feel. Emotions are a powerful part of our body and mind and with that we can create a world where we can eliminate the evil that is incapable of any feeling.