Overcoming My Fear of Mankind

After the economy went belly up, I found my entire department laid off, and people who had much better resumes than me were competing for jobs that a year before, none of us would have wanted. Like so many others, I had to branch out with my lesser-depended on skills, and find a job in fields that I really had no experience in. This may be fun for the young, but for the middle-aged me, it was stressful.

Through a friend, I was able to land a job as a paralegal. Now, the analytically inclined curve of my brain really

Convenience Store Signs
Convenience Store Signs (Photo credit: Plan for Opportunity)

loved this kind of work. Attention to detail is something I really enjoyed, as well as the pure beauty of the law. But then, add in that you work for lawyers, and it all kind of goes right into the toilet. The fact that I was working for an unscrupulous attorney who seemed to think I was an idiot made it even worse. This guy joined one of the biggest churches in Tulsa to drum up business, and his accounting practices were deceitful and greedy. No, I wasn’t going to last at this job.

I could write posts and posts on this little misadventure, but I’ll skip it today. The guy was a twit. Instead, I want to talk about killing time at work. For whatever reason, it has always been an unspoken rule that one should always look like you are busy, even if you have completed your work. I know, I know. You’re being paid, so you should give your employer 100% effort. I get it. But, isn’t it lying to pretend that you are working when all you are doing is laying manuals around your desk in an effort to look busy? Yes. I’ve done that, too.

Working in Human Relations and accounting, this was kind of a thorn in my side, but I found a really, really cool past time for killing time when I was working as a paralegal. I began to read the appeals the State of Oklahoma published on-line. Hey! Learning about the law = becoming a better paralegal, right? Oh.My.God.

There are some pretty evil people in this world, and they aren’t wearing signs to warn the rest of us. After two months of reading appeals in my down time, I was freaking myself out. My grown kids suddenly had all kinds of rules about checking in with me, and what started as a way to make time pass at work became a full-fledged obsession with me. I was reading them at home, sometimes late into the night.

It seems like everything the Worst People in Our Society did always started as something simply innocuous, like this:

John Doe and his friend Jimmy Smith decided to run up to the convenience store and get some beer….Hours later, drunk and looking for something to do……(insert Horrible Acts here)…

They always ended by doing something terrifying and horrible to some unsuspecting person who had wandered into their sights. I was getting jaded about humanity. I stopped being friendly, especially at convenience stores. Eye-contact was vanishing, and a homeless guy wandering near my car was enough to trigger a full-fledged panic attack. Suddenly, everyone was a potential murderer and rapist in my world.

My eldest kid, Bekkie, was appalled by my hour-long lectures on being safe while functioning in this world, and told me to stop reading those stupid appeals. “Either God is in control of what happens to us, or He isn’t,” were her wise little words. I took them to heart, and started wading my way back to reality.

My mother told me once that there are two wolves in every person — the good one and the bad one. Whichever one you feed the most, that one will be the stronger one. I had to make a decision to stop feeding the wolf that was terrifying me, making me afraid to live my life, and start feeding the one that trusted God and knew He was at the reins of my life.

Lesson learned, I always have to guard my eyes and my heart. Being cautious is a good thing in this life, but being afraid of every shadow makes life too stressful and unhappy.

I’m going to go to the convenience store and strike up a conversation with the homeless guy…but I’m taking my husband to guard my back… 🙂 .

— Bird

25 responses to “Overcoming My Fear of Mankind”

  1. OH Bird don’t look now but someone’s stalking you…. *evil cackle* jk, c’mon woman, man up, yes the world’s full of psychos and sycophants all willy nilly, and yes there is reason to be scared but if you take these things on you’ll never leave your bathroom let alone your house….. and the next thing you know your family will be sliding your food under the door….. that’s no way to live, Birds are meant to be free, hence the wing thingies 🙂


  2. This is a very good point. One needs to be alert and aware of their surroundings, but when fear comes into play and there is no present danger, that’s a sign. I wrote years ago that adequate fear keeps us safe, too much keeps us stuck. Thanks for an excellent, insightful post with great food for thought. (Now, make sure the door is locked, LOL!) 🙂


  3. Well written! Also, you are so right about feeding the right wolf. We each have a choice as to which one we feed and become. We have more power than we sometimes realize.


    • Exactly! I have a fair amount of experience with feeding the wrong things in myself! Luckily, I’m getting a little better at nipping things in the bud before it gets totally out of control!


  4. I know this will sound strange, but I am glad your experience with Hypervigilance was through reading about and not from personal interaction with the people you are describing. They are out there. But the reality is you can’t control that.

    Your daughter’s a smart cookie.
    You seem an empathetic person with a strong ability to put yourself in other shoes and recognize the true scale of how terrible some people can be. I think your mom was right when she inferred you have to decided if thats something you want to influence your life or not.

    I’m glad you decided not to 🙂

    Fantastic post, thanks for sharing it.


  5. Andromache,
    I don’t think that is strange — I think that is pretty damn lucky! I’ve already established that I have neither the “Fight” nor the “Flight” instinct…lol. I would probably just die right there of fright. My hypervigilance is exhausting sometimes, but it is a kind of protection, too. I’m rarely surprised by what other people do…
    I loved your post about this. I laughed and laughed because I totally understood that “What the h…., for a brain working its butt off, we are getting very few good results” tone you had. Loved it!
    My daughter is so practical. Her voice has cut through quite a few diatribes in my mind. I’m so glad you came to visit my site…we have some stuff in common…makes the world feel a little less lonely.


    • Yea I was reading some of your comments on my blog and looking over yours. You’ll probably notice me browsing through of your writing soon 🙂 I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far 🙂 Thanks your thoughts on the internet 🙂


      • Well, there is no real rhyme or reason to my site. It kind of flows a little like my mind does…not all that smoothly, but we eventually arrive somewhere…


  6. Actually, mine is very similar. While I AM taking the 30 Days of Truth Project on, I don’t believe in worrying about structure much. I think you negotiate your thoughts in a similar fashion. 🙂

    Probably why I like it. It’s what you’re thinking, not just what you heard 🙂


    • Thanks! I am still exploring your site, and it all seemed well-written and put together perfectly. Plus, you are pretty hilarious, and I love to laugh.

      I think ALOT… Gives me lots of things to write about… 😉


      • Well Thank you. Yea when I first starting writing, I was going to use the blog to help with my counseling. But my counselor left recently, which is a shame because she really cool. ( I know you mentioned therapy wasn’t for you so I’m not pushing it on you ) It’s hard to find someone who you’re comfortable with. But soon after I started writing, I realized I prefer to dump my stress at counseling. There are other things I want to talk about besides the negative things that haunt the back of my brain at time.

        So it’s nothing like I imagined, although I am enjoying it as, similar to you, I think about a LOT of things and I gotta get them out of my head somehow haha.



  7. Lol..exactly. Once I write about something, it kind of “finishes” it for me. My thoughts seem more organized and completed. Odd.

    If I was being really fair, I’d say that the therapists were having to overcome my intense distrust in a pretty tiny amount of time. Most of them, I simply left while in the waiting room. But, there was some damage done when I finally did get into an office. I keep a journal that I write the really hard stuff in, but I haven’t had to write anything in a really long time. I think I’ve been able to get it all out, and I’m through with it. I’m 43. I’ve wasted almost my entire life coming to terms with what happened to me. I’m going to focus on enjoying as much time on earth as I did crying on it. Not to compare with what you went through — they are apples and oranges. But I simply got sick of always hiding from what happened, dealing with shame and guilt that I didn’t bring on myself, or having to overcome whatever curve ball PTSD symptom that would show up at random moments of my day.

    And therapy was expensive, and I’m rather cheap. .. 😉

    My own little 2 cents…


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