I used to fear dying. The word “death” always left a sour taste in my mouth.
It used to keep me up at night. My mind was always riddled with these overwhelming thoughts of “Is it going to be tonight?” or “Will I make it to tomorrow?” To say it still keeps me up at night sometimes would be an understatement.
I don’t think we can necessarily rid ourselves of those thoughts altogether. We’ll always have them in the back of our minds, and they’ll creep up at us in certain moments. Moments where we never want that particular day to end, with us laughing with our loved ones or truly enjoying whatever it is we’re doing. Or even moments where we find ourselves alone with our thoughts and we’re so stressed out to a point where we contemplate if it’s worth it anymore.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you what to think or how to go about in your life. I’m just telling you about the thoughts I have sometimes and hoping that I’m not the only one who thinks them.
I like to consider myself a self-diagnosed hypochondriac. I constantly worry that I have something majorly wrong with me, even with the simplest symptoms, like a cough or a headache. I keep myself up at night always worrying that something was going to happen to me. It’s worse when a mental illness is in the equation — it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
There was one time a little over a year ago when my anxiety was so bad I made myself believe I was bound to have a heart attack at any time of the day. I looked up all the signs of it and put it into my mind that those were happening to me. Google quickly became my toxic best friend. So, for an entire week, I would keep myself up at night for fear that if I went to bed, something bad would happen. I became so overtired and rundown that I was worried I would never get out of the dangerous rut I willingly put myself in.
One of my biggest fears in life is going under for surgery. I fear that the minute I let someone else take control of my body and allow it to turn on and off, I won’t be able to wake up and get out of the anesthesia. Safe to say that when I had to get my wisdom teeth taken out a couple of years ago, I did it fully awake and blasted music the whole time through my headphones. Because no pain was worth not having full control.
When I think of the word death, I think of an ending. I think of the fact that my life as I know it will be over, and I won’t carry on somewhere else. People are entitled to their beliefs, but I don’t believe in an afterlife or that, when I die, my soul will continue living in other circumstances.
It used to make me upset to grow older, because instead of celebrating another year on this earth, I would fear knowing my life clock was getting a year closer to the inevitable. But now when I see the people around me singing happy birthday, clapping and smiling, I don’t feel so sad anymore. And when they tell me to make a wish, I don’t wish to not die soon or to live a long life. Instead, I wish to continue living in the moment without worrying so much about what’s to come.
The truth is, we can’t control when our time will be up. Even under unfortunate circumstances, like when we’re told we have a certain amount of time left, we never know for sure.
A few years ago, there was this idea going around about whether or not you would want to know the exact date and time of when you would exit the world. I chose not to. If I knew, I would be living my life so cautiously and always fearing that the day was approaching instead of going out and enjoying the moment.
So I’m choosing to just live in the now. And I know it sounds so simple, but it’s hard. It’s hard to not worry about when our time will be up. It’s hard to see the ones you love growing older. It’s hard to look back at pictures of yourself and see how much you’ve changed, knowing that you’ll always keep changing.
But you don’t have to do it in fear anymore. Because when you take the time to look around at what you have and where you are right in this moment, even if it’s not where you want to be or even if it’s during a hard time, I want you to know this: Life is beautiful even when it’s cloudy and cold. Even when you can’t turn on the news without seeing something bad anymore. Even when you don’t get something you want.
I want you to know that I don’t fear dying anymore. I fear not living my life to its fullest potential. So I’m choosing to go to bed, without fearing that I won’t wake up or something will happen but excited and ready for whatever tomorrow will bring me.