The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The only thing we have to fear is, well, cockroaches

This is my last column ever, and I’ve been thinking a lot about that old curse—you know, the one that goes “may you live in interesting times.”

It’s because “interesting” is certainly one way to describe this past year. Donald Trump is our Republican nominee, our Supreme Court is split right down the middle and Beyonce ruined most of our lives in the best way with Lemonade. The Brazilian President has just been ousted, the new mayor of London is a Muslim and the Prime Minister of Canada is really really pretty. Social justice issues are more prevalent than ever, and so is the inevitable, ugly backlash. (I mentioned Donald Trump, right?)

Sometimes, it feels like the world is falling apart at its seams —usually a feeling experienced after reading the news. There’s a tangible sense of change, a shift of what we thought we understood and expected, and that isn’t just a byproduct of me graduating from high school.

Change, I’ve come to realize, is always interesting. But then again, it’s also completely, and utterly terrifying.

This is not a revelation. We can see evidence of people’s fear in places like North Carolina, where people are now required to use the bathroom associated with the gender on their birth certificate. Trans people, of course, have existed since humanity evolved, but it doesn’t look like everyone got the memo. There are reasonable, rational people who understand that no one is actually defined by their genitalia, which is most clearly evidenced by how we are all legally required to wear clothing to cover said parts.

Then there are other people who see change, fear it and then decide that the people they’re afraid of shouldn’t be able to use the bathroom. Bigotry, classy as always.

maya's column
Illustration by Sneha Gaur

We’re all afraid of things—for example, I’m afraid of cockroaches, dying and garbage disposal units. I’m afraid of going to college, because all the people in my college acceptance Facebook group are beautiful, glamorous and fluently speak three languages. To be perfectly honest, I’ve spent most of my life being afraid of any type of change in my life, because I’m the type of person who’s eaten exactly two waffles for breakfast everyday. For three years.

And fear isn’t something we can dismiss or set on fire like a bad Chemistry quiz. We have to deal with it, and fight it and get out from under our sheets every morning to confront a universe full of things we’d rather banish away. Growing up, we’re taught to expect change on a small scale: more homework, later curfews, the slow but bitter march of AP tests taking over your life.

As it happened, the changes were on a slightly larger, Trumpier, scale than we were warned about.

It’s hard, because I’ve been told a distrust of the unknown is an evolutionary response, but I’m confident that we can all transcend the limitations of our ancestors. Unless you don’t believe in evolution, in which case your fears are a little more deeply held than mine and I wish you all the luck in the world on overcoming them.

Personally, I deal with that fear by focusing on people: all these wonderful, intelligent, creative, extraordinary people who never quite fit into a definition that I can be afraid of. It’s easy to be afraid of an idea, something without a face you’ve been taught is different and strange and dangerous, but considerably harder when that idea is manifested in a real person posting dank memes on Twitter. I know that I’m never going to conquer my fear of cockroaches, but I can try to look at individuals on their own merit before I pass judgement.

On the plus side, the new people I meet always turns out to be more interesting than I could have possibly imagined.

For better or for worse, none of us can expect what the world will look like in the near future: things are changing beneath our shoes, in ways we don’t understand.

I guess it’s fitting then, that I’ve always called this column “Out of the Blue.”

More to Discover