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Cisi Eze: Of Inherited Fears & the Things We Fear & Hate without Reason

Are you being around stressful family members because you are scared of what they would say if you stay away from them? Are you still at that job because leaving would mean you would be broke? Are you having that fourth child because you want to “keep your marriage”, unlike your mother?

Cisi Eze

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Is your fear truly your fear? Are you certain you did not inherit it from someone? It does not have to come from a parent – it could be from the media, friends, religion, or any social institution. If you are certain your fear is not your fear, it is time to dismantle it. Let it go.

Had you encountered a snake before you knew you had ophidophobia (fear of snakes)? Via socialisation, we learnt these creatures were bad, leading us to internalise fear and hatred for them. Then again, in some cultures, to kill a snake is to commit a sacrilege. Interestingly, people who live in such societies do not report that snakes harm them. We can say ophidophobia is acquired, learnt.

It is the trademark of the human psyche to project itself. Parents project their fears, dreams, and hopes on their children. “As I could not become a doctor, one of my children has to be a doctor.” If parents can project their aspirations on children, it means they can do the same with fear.

Based on these inherited fears, we become people who are scared of things without knowing why we are scared of them.  Most of us make life-altering decisions out of fears that are not originally ours. An example is someone who wants to have children for the wrong reasons. Of course, some of our parents would not blatantly tell us kids are important so that we do not end up lonely. They pass this message to us in subtle ways. “What would people say?” “Who will take care of you in your old age?” “Who will continue your legacy?” Because we are scared of repercussions attached to not having children, some of us have children out of fear, not necessarily out of love.

At times, these fears we acquire from our parents are born from them being scarred by their personal experience(s). And this makes sense. Instead of holding on to their fears, it makes more sense that we learn from the experience that inspired that fear in them. Effectively learning from another person’s (past) situation entails taking that experience in the right context, analysing it, and picking out lessons we believe would work in our own life context. Say you want to make an investment in a business and it happens that your parents had failed at a particular venture, like trading in plywood, chances are that you might not want to delve into the plywood business. However, the smart thing to do is to understand why they failed at that business before concluding that plywood trade is bad. It could be that they did not have the right knowledge at the time. In your case, you have to do intensive research and do amazingly well. That way, you overcome the fear of the plywood business. In conquering inherited fears, we become the dreams of our parents. We achieve great things, break limits, and become the best versions of ourselves.

If you must be scared of something, you must have a reason. That is why it is advised that people execute feelings with logic, and vice-versa. Decisions should not be made out of fear, but they should come from a place of love. Are you being around stressful family members because you are scared of what they would say if you stay away from them? Are you still at that job because leaving would mean you would be broke? Are you having that fourth child because you want to “keep your marriage”, unlike your mother?

Fear has a way of yanking out your wings before you are aware of your ability to fly. When we operate out of our fears, especially the ones we inherited, we place limits on ourselves. We even go on to erect structures for our stressors to stand. Before we know it, we see ourselves in a mire of mental pain we could have easily avoided.

Fear is a negative emotion. In a world where people need a healthy dose of positivity, harbouring fear is counterproductive. I admit fear, when used constructively, could be beneficial. This is basically transmuting negative energy into positive energy. The fear of getting burnt makes us not stick our hand in fire, right? Fear is a valid emotion, but is it limiting your glow and slay? Most importantly, are you sure what you fear is actually your own fear?

P.S. Homophobia is most definitely not a phobia. It is intolerance. And hate. And bigotry. Last time I checked, people with a phobia for snakes do not go out of their way to hunt snakes and hurt them. Same with people with aquaphobia or thalassophobia: they do not actively seek out water bodies. The same applies to other forms of discrimination based on how and where a person was naturally born. We learn misogyny and racism, ya know.

Cisi Eze is a Lagos-based freelance journalist, writer, comic artist, and graphics designer.A media and justice fellow of the Bisi Alimi Foundation, she feels strongly about LGBT+ rights, feminism, gender issues, and mental health, and this is expressed through her works on Bella Naija and her blog – Shades of Cisi. Aside these, she has works on Western Post NG, Kalahari Review, Holaafrica, Mounting the Moon, Gender IT, Outcast Magazine, Rustin Times, 14: An Anthology of Queer Art Volume 1 and 2, and Sweet Deluge (Issue 2). Her first book, published by Tamarind Hill Press, UK, is titled “Of Women, Edges, and Parks”.Cisi’s art challenges existing societal norms.

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