I’ve been meaning to write about fear for a while now. I think fear and envy are probably the two most instructive of all human emotions and that self-mastery must include a study of one’s expression of, and ability to navigate, each.
One of my favourite things to do on a Sunday morning is drink coffee while reading the New York Times Sunday Review. Today, I read a great article, ‘Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared?‘, written by a woman called Caroline Paul, one of the first women in the San Francisco Fire Department. She was a firefighter for over 13 years.
Caroline makes a strong case for not mollycoddling girls by teaching them that fear is an appropriate excuse for failing to take risk. She doesn’t use these exact words, but I will: when we teach little girls that childhood adventure is not ‘ladylike’, or more precisely, when we encourage them to fear the risks that come with adventure and exploration, we cheat them of opportunities to learn important life skills. She mentions responsibility, problem-solving and confidence, and I will add one more: curiosity.