Waiting for The Scary Thing

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli



As I approached the due date of my first child, I remember telling people that I felt like I was in a haunted house—when you’re in a haunted house, you know you’re going to be scared, you just don’t know when, so you walk around with your shoulders tense and your eyes half shut until the zombie finally jumps out at you and relieves you of the tension of waiting for it to happen. Same thing with the baby—I knew this baby was coming, I just didn’t know when, so I was walking around in constant trepidation—is this the moment? Is it now?

In Indiana, spring has come early this year… heck, summer has practically arrived. With the joys of spring come some nuisances too; specifically, this week wasps have arrived at our house. We’ve spotted a few flying around the perimeter of our house and even in our garage, but yesterday one flew right over the heads of my daughter and I while we were brushing her hair in her bathroom. A wasp in our house! Now, I’m a self-admitted scaredy cat when it comes to insects, especially ones with the means to inflict bodily harm, so since yesterday I’ve been walking around my house with my shoulders tense, looking up at the ceilings and in the crevices with dreaded anticipation of the next wasp. Is this the moment? Is it now?

Years ago, my brother got stung by a scorpion that was nestled in his shoe.  For a long time after that I would shake out my shoes before putting them on—despite the fact that I’ve never lived any place that would also be inhabited by scorpions.  That same brother suffered a brain aneurysm earlier this year, followed subsequently by a stroke. He survived both, and is working steadfastly on a miraculous recovery. As he’s moving about more and more independently, we keep trying to help him with things, and he keeps us at arm’s-length, saying, “You know, I’m going to fall.”

I’m reminded of a story by my favorite artist/storyteller Brian Andreas which goes: “Leaning out as far as she can, hoping she’ll fall soon, so she can stop worrying about whether it will happen or not.”

Because, the thing is, The Scary Thing will happen. The baby will be born. The zombie will jump out at you. The wasp (or scorpion) will sting you. You will fall. Waiting for these things, anticipating them, just adds to your agony and, worse, makes you miss out on just enjoying the journey of life.    There’s a difference between being careful (I’ll probably get some pest control for those wasps, and I admit I still sometimes shake out my shoes) and being immobilized.

Are you letting fear of The Scary Thing hold you back? 

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.