It’s a feeling you start having when you’re a tiny little kid. When all you know is eating and sleeping and crying, and everyone around you has so much more going on. You assume, with every birthday you hit, that this will be the year that you start to understand.
Because there is so much that you don’t comprehend about the world, that it is a horrifying place. You might not think of it as fear, but all the things you don’t know make you feel different. And not a good kind of different. Whether it’s the first time you cross the road without your mother holding your hand or the first time you move into your own home, things are going to be a little bit daunting.
And what makes it worse is that you see everybody else doing it and looking like they feel fine.
It looks like everyone else has planned for this, has prepared for every eventuality, has a back-up plan for if something goes wrong. And you feel like the only person that doesn’t.
But you’re wrong.
The truth is, nobody really knows what’s going to happen next. When you were little, you assumed that all the grown-ups who took care of you knew what was going on. But – you learn this when you reach their age – they don’t. They make the best of their situation for themselves and their children. But they don’t really know what’s going on.
They were just as scared as you are. They were afraid that they would get something wrong. They were afraid that something would come up that they couldn’t handle. And things got so much scarier for them because now it wasn’t just them at risk – now it was their baby, too.
Knowing more than a child is not difficult. But knowing everything you need to know is. You saw them as having everything together because they acted as if they did. If they acted afraid in front of their baby, you would’ve grown up scared of everything the world can throw at you. So they let you believe that they knew everything, and so will you.
And that’s what everyone else is doing now.
They are scared that they are not prepared, that they don’t know enough about what’s going on, that life will make them face something that they can’t handle. They are scared, most of all, that someone else will realise that they are scared and say that they are not ready for this – not ready to live on their own, to take responsibility for themselves, to cross the road without someone else there to keep them safe.
And you might just be apprehensive about something that you actually are ready for. Or you might actually need some help before you get to this milestone.
And so might most of the people around you facing the same First Time Thing.
None of you is going to get through it without help. Some people just need someone to talk out their nervousness with. Others might need a lot more help – might need someone to guide them through every bump until they feel ready to handle them on their own.
But you’ll never get that help if you don’t ask for it, if nobody knows you need it. If you’re so committed to pretending that you know what you doing that everyone assumes you can cope alone.
Know that everyone else is scared, too. And know that no one will judge you if you tell them you are. The kind of person who judges you for that is the kind of person you can walk away from and not miss.
The world is a scary place. It’s not easy to get through alone. Tell someone who will help you, and it makes everything better.