Coming to Terms with the Moths

Anyone who has known me longer than 5 minutes knows that I am deathly afraid of moths. With Scottish / Polish skin this pale and hair this blonde, my head is like a beacon glowing at the little demons. Every year since childhood, they have buffeted me about the head and ensnared themselves in my hair from mid-June to late September.

Since summer began, at least two per week have blindly flung themselves in the general vicinity of my reading light. As a child, I would’ve lain paralyzed until finally mustering the courage to switch the light out, and then buried my head deep under the humid summer sheets and listened to it slamming its shocked plastic-sounding body against whatever it came into contact with.

My reaction now isn’t much different: I jump out of bed, exciting the dog enough to bark and chase me as I duck, weave, and strategize about how to get the little f*cker out of the bedroom.

A few weeks ago, we realized that we had them in the basement. Oh, joy. Little cloth-eating menaces, making their flickering way into the upper floors. One moth you can keep an eye on—but a dozen? It was my personal nightmare. Then they started appearing in random places.

I pulled my wallet out of my purse at the gas station—and a moth flew out. It was a weird “No, I’m not Miss Havisham” experience as I sheepishly acted like it couldn’t possibly have originated from me.

At 1 AM last night, when I had had just about enough work for the day, one flew crazily out from under my wrist—I have no idea where it had been—and battered its way around my desk lamp for a good 5 minutes before boring itself against the wall and disappearing behind the desk.

This morning, I emptied the dish drainer and a little one saved itself from bowl-stack death by removing to the windowsill. You’re wondering why I’m telling you this.

The thing is that I hold on to fear for a really long time. I drag up all the past experiences I’ve ever had with a situation that might kind of sort of in a way bear a resemblance to this one time, and I freak out all over again. The reaction doesn’t change because the fear lives on.

I’m a big proponent of living the life you want and meeting your own personal goals, but it’s hypocrisy on a certain level. There are plenty of things I wish I was doing right now that fear has stepped in the way of. There are plenty of road blocks we all set up for ourselves day in and day out—personally and professionally—that keep us far, far away from where we thought we would be. Distractions. Time wasters. Diversionary tactics that cast a net over chance and risk and change, and then yank them out of the range of possibility.

And if you’re an all-star pupil of the School of Logic like me, you can reason your way through it. We went down to visit friends and family in Charleston, SC, recently, which is a place that I escaped from in 2003 with a boatload of memories I wanted to leave behind. There was something about this visit in particular that sparked something  that I wasn’t expecting. So many of our friends own their own businesses and are seeing amazing success. We were all just a bunch of misfits 10 years ago, but now you can see where that independent spirit has led. It was truly inspirational.

I’m sure they have their own fears about the direction they’re heading in from time to time, but you wouldn’t know it. I have a deep admiration for their strength of purpose and it has re-invigorated mine. I’m so grateful for that.

OK, so circling once again—what does this have to do with my fear of moths? Nothing, probably, although those little beasts are a keen reminder that we often allow progress to become paralyzed because of our fears … and that should be scarier than the fears themselves.

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sue Williams
Sue Williams
11 years ago

An old friend once told me we can live our lives with courage or we can live them with fear. Anyone who chooses to follow their dream as their work life is already choosing that courageous option albeit sometimes the ‘moths’ make an appearance from time to time. They are just a reality check. Great blog post!