Facing fears? What’s a little spilt milk…

“The fear of change can keep you from walking into some of the greatest things life offers. Don’t be afraid to let go of things and people that aren’t making you a better person. Life is too short!” ― Buky Ojelabi

The above quote is a beautiful capsule of encouragement to embrace personal growth. But for anyone who has made it part of their lifestyle, the ability to see what to let go of is a complicated job.

When I decided to write Ameera Unveiled, I knew it would revolve around my protagonist facing her fear. A fear that eventually revealed underlying prongs of insecurities… prickly fears we universally experience… school-milk

I didn’t choose the family tree I was born into. My ancestors’ lives are part of the superhighway I will become part of while fulfilling my destiny. Global and spiritual footprints contribute to my ability to sift the good, bad and the ugly. When do I choose fight or flight instincts? When do I choose peace over going to war?

As the product of a Navy family career childhood during the ‘60s and 70’s, I still find myself discovering influences that impact my own life. As I research and interview military veterans and their stories, it has solidified my belief system. In spite of people in your life that aren’t making you a better person, they are an influence.

Being the oldest, I was the first to go to school. I left my social network of sisters to figure out how to navigate a new social environment. My first school lunch memory is seared on my brain still because of how nervous I was trying to open the little bottle of milk. My mom wasn’t there to show me how, or do it for me. She’d taught me to tie my shoes, brush my teeth, and respect my elders… but this was a challenge I was wholly unprepared for. And yes, I was scared.

There I was among a group of strangers, trying to cope with a little bottle of milk with a foil pull tab. If I didn’t remove it correctly, I knew it could result in a spill, all eyes on me… maybe even snickers from my peers. Pretending not to watch, I tried to see how my classmates were dealing with their own little milk bottles.

My shaky little hands reached for the tab and pulled. The tiny wet bottle slid sideways and spilled milk all over my lunch tray. The self prophecy manifested itself.

I remember the embarrassment as my teacher reassured me it was not a big deal. She removed the lunch tray and returned with a new slate. With a graceful and reassuring voice, she showed me how to open that little bottle of milk.

As I would move past that seemingly small circumstance of having to face an unknown, I look back and see it is not the size of unknowns. It is facing the fear, in spite of the possibility of failure, evaluating fight or flight.

Even as a kindergartener, my ego said run. In the long term, I would have to open many little bottles of milk. If I failed? It was only spilt milk and a few giggles from insensitive classmates.

There are so many coping lessons I learned and moved on from at that lunch table. As I’ve aged, little milk bottles became bigger unknowns and greater fears; navigating marriage, parenthood, divorce and career paths. And I’ve realized that I cannot simplify how to know when to choose fight or flight, peace or war… So, like the rest of us, I take it as it comes, still sometimes afraid of the unknown, but willing to face my fears with the help of family and friends and the cathartic release of words onto a blank white page…

What was one of your milk bottle moments? peace out Kat

8 thoughts on “Facing fears? What’s a little spilt milk…

  1. I was the youngest and the last to leave home for that unknown world… kindergarten:) Riding the bus, a boy in my neighborhood convinced me that if I couldn’t spell my whole name…Jacqueline, that I’d be kicked out of school. I was terrified! I was 4 years old…my mom sent me a year early and I still haven’t’ worked out why…but that was a potful of letters I hadn’t really learned how to put together yet. I could spell Jacquie, though, and I remember praying with all my might that it would be good enough. Turns out…nobody even asked me to spell my name at all!

    • I had a little taunting boy at my assigned table that loved to ‘scare’ me. Guess those guys are just born to pull our cute little pigtails? I find it interesting that even though you were 4, you knew you had a potful of letters!

  2. When i was 23 i learned to ski. Canada. Big mountain. Bigger fear.
    No clue as to how to ski. At the end of a week of lessons a slalom competition for students was the finale.
    I was the slowest skier on record for the sport. It was video taped and presented at dinner in front of 100s of skiers.
    The laughing was deafening and my companion was pointing at me IDing me as the onus of the new award.
    Very embarrasing but lessoned learned. If you can laugh with those who are laughing at you, you have won the race.

  3. When I was in the first grade way back when we practiced penmanship with fountain pens and had inkwells in our desks, I stuck my milk straw into the inkwell and sucked the ink up and down to impress my peers. As I became more and more daring hypnotized by a roomful of wideeyes, I sucked too hard and ink spurted out like JDR’s favorite gusher. There was hell to pay.

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