Don’t let fear hold you back

Mercury Bowen, Columnist

One of the most important lessons I have learned recently is to take chances when the opportunity is available even if they scare you. This lesson was a hard-learned one for me, with a significant measure of regret and wishful thinking.

It is a good rule to follow in nearly any area of life: work, school, friendships, or in my case, family. I grew up without my father in my life. He and my mother divorced before I was born, and he never once laid eyes on me. My mother raised me to be afraid he would find me, and that he’d take me away from her.

Growing up, I was not allowed to have my picture in the newspaper. I could not go on school trips. I was a junior in college before I had a social media profile of any sort, and I nearly had a panic attack when creating it. In short, I lived in constant fear. I understand that this was not rational fear, but rather my mother’s overprotective fear that had been ingrained in me from years of living as such. That all changed when I turned 18.

My mother had told me for years that if I wanted to find my father when I was a legal adult I could. I had adamantly agreed for all those years that I wanted to meet him when I knew he could no longer legally take me away. Yet, I did not. I lingered in the realm of indecision until I started college.

After that, time always seemed to escape me. The thought was always there, deep in the dark trenches of my mind. Once in a while it would crawl to the forefront only to be pushed back with a passing thought of “I’ll deal with that later.”

“Later” happened the summer of my senior year of college. Knowing I would be graduating soon and would likely be starting my adult life, I decided to finally connect with my father. When I got in touch with him, I discovered he had remarried, and I had some half-siblings. Having grown up an only child, this was very exciting for me. However, there was a definite bittersweet tone to the meeting.

I met my father and the rest of his family in August. One of my half-brothers had died in a car accident in January that year. He had been in high school, a young life taken tragically before his time. The family has told me several stories about him, and I can honestly say with a heavy heart that I am sorry I never met him.

I realize now that had I not hesitated due to my own insecurities, I could have met quite a remarkable young man if the stories are anything to go by. This event really opened my eyes to the fact that time is precious. It is important to take chances when you have them, because you never know when they’ll be gone.

Mercury Bowen is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].