What are you afraid of?

July 02 2014

Hi everyone! My name is Ben and I am a 20 year old American college student hailing from the bustling metropolis that is North Bend, Washington. I actually attend university in Washington, D.C. where I am double majoring in International Affairs and German.
Now that you at least know a few things about me, I’d like for you to go back to the subject line and read it over again. It is my opinion that to know a person, and I mean really understand what makes them tick, you must know what they are most afraid of. In the above paragraph I told you some basic information about myself, but all of that doesn’t really show who I am or what I am like.

I am terrified of being forgotten.

How about now? Know me a little better? I hope so. Let me give you a little insight into the depths of my fear.
My fear motivates everything that I do.
It’s why I moved 3,000 miles away to continue my education. Staying in my hometown with the same 5,000 people doesn’t lend itself to the kind of life changing feats as does moving to a city with a population of over 120 times that. I wanted a chance to meet people I would never have the chance to meet if I had stayed in the region my entire life. I wanted to embrace the kind of change in myself that I hoped to encourage in others. I wanted future classes from my high school to look at former graduates and say “If Ben could do it, why can’t I?”
My fear is why I volunteer in my community and in others wherever I can. It’s why I spent a week in New Orleans building a house with Habitat for Humanity in the lower 9th ward for a former carney (and human blockhead!!) who lost his home during Hurricane Katrina. It’s why I’m going back again this coming winter.
It’s why I worry so much about what people think of me. Those countless people you meet in life aren’t going to remember someone who is boring, or a jerk. Who would want to remember that person? Who would want to remember some short kid who looks 5 years younger than he actually is? Even now writing an email to 25,000 strangers I wonder what I sound like. Am I coming off as arrogant or whiny? Or just insecure?
I guess I want to believe that it is ok to be afraid.
I could go on forever, but I only have so many words. Instead I’ll leave you with a little bit of advice (if you want it, I mean, what could some 20 year old tell you?)
-Have a good joke you can tell
-Guys, learn to cook. Fried Oreos are the key to a girl’s heart
-Exercise is good for the mind and body
-have firm beliefs (ex: Motion Movement by Blue Scholars is the greatest song ever)
-Love easily and love hard. I have no good way to phrase this, but falling in love with someone is the greatest thing in this world. To be completely vulnerable to them is terrifying and liberating and changes you both. Even if it gets you hurt, there is nothing like remembering an awkward first kiss after an aquarium date. Love is a beautiful thing,­ never give it up.

I’d love to hear back from y’all!

Ben Wheeler
[email protected]
North Bend, WA

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