There are approximately 361,481 children born in the world every single day. We all start out the same—a blank canvas.We come into this world new, clean, untouched, and yet somehow the darkness finds us all. Think about it. Over 300,000 children born each day and at some point, they all fear the same thing—the monster underneath the bed. We've all been there, laying under our duvet, curled up, telling ourselves that if our limbs are brushed by the cool night air, even in the slightest, that the beast lurking beneath the bed frame will steal us away from our families and, ultimately, our childhoods. Now, eventually, these thoughts and fears drift away as we grow older and realize that the only monster that lives with us in our bedrooms is our imagination. Or is it?
For me, that doesn't seem to be the case. In my case, the monster didn't drift away or disappear, he remains with me to this day—no, he did not disappear the way that he did for so many others. He simply found a new place to hide.
That place was inside my brain. He burrowed into the deepest corners of my mind, and only when he was completely nestled in and became aware that this dwelling place could be his "forever home" did he dare to utter his name to me: Anxiety. He made himself at home and has been reminding me ever since that fear is my only strength. They say that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I don't think that they, whoever they are, know how true that is. For me, there is nothing more I fear than fear, there is nothing that makes want to be young again, safely huddled under my covers, more than the possibility of being afraid. Just the thought of the monster peeking out from his own dank, dark bedroom to remind that the world is not safe, that the universe I was created for and thrust into wants nothing more than to destroy me. And so I hide. Just as my monster hides itself away, so do I. I keep myself in the background, I stick to routine and try my best not to put myself in situations I don't know the outcome of, situations I cannot control. I know this isn't healthy.
I realize that the reason I so often feel alone is because I isolate myself. But it's safe; there's a sense of security in being alone with my monster, following his rules. However, as I've gotten older, I have realized I don't want to be safe. I've been "safe" for so long and I know that the monster will just continue to grow if I leave him alone, if I follow his rules. I know that someday, I will never be able to get out from under the covers again.
I don't want to be curled up, hiding from the night air, hiding from the world, for the rest of my life. But how do I get him to leave? How do I evict the owner of the building? I want to be free, but how? It's like being in a prison I constructed myself and I'm the only one who knows the building's weaknesses, the only one who can find a way in to tear it down. That's the thing about being free, the only one who can give you that gift is the one who holds the key.
So what do you do when you're on trial with yourself? What do you do when not only the prisoner but also the bailiff is you? I don't have the answers to these questions. I don't know if the monster will ever truly be gone. What I do know is that I am not alone. There are approximately 361,481 children born in the world each day. All of these children eventually face the monster under the bed, and I know that I am not the only one whose monster has—or will—stay with them into adulthood. And that brings me more peace than I have felt in my entire life. That victory, small as it may be, gives me the strength to crawl out of bed, face the monster and walk out of my house one more day.