The Charger Blog

Sophomore Blogger Explores Facing Fears and Embracing Growth

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 explains why addressing fears can be like working with dough, and she offers her fellow Chargers a recipe for facing and overcoming the fears and anxieties they may be experiencing in their own lives.

November 28, 2023

By Beatrice Glaviano ’26

Beatrice Glaviano ’26.
Beatrice Glaviano ’26.

Fear is a real thing – literally. Epinephrine (C9H13NO3) is a chemical compound secreted by glands in a flight or fight response given by the sympathetic nervous system, which is under the umbrella of the autonomic nervous system. This chemical is also used to “restart” the body when it goes into cardiac arrest, which can result from several types of shock. There’s also cortisol, which is a hormone that’s released when we are under any type of stress: physical, mental, emotional, etc.

Cortisol may also be responsible for acne, bloating, or other physical manifestations of stress. One of the first things that they teach you in organic chemistry is that without it, nothing would exist. The amino acids that comprise our proteins, foods, nature – these all would be impossible without the existence of organic compounds. So, why isn’t fear just chemistry?

Well, there’s a certain amount of “human” interlinked with fear. What we fear can stem from different reasonings, whether that be logical, illogical, or a mix of both. The chemical reactions that we formulate in response to fear are triggered by how strong the stimuli is. In the case of arachnophobia, you’d probably be a lot more scared of an Australian tarantula than the common house spider. But this is only one case. What about fears that don’t involve anything we can see? (Not ghosts, though).

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 finds ways to bring relaxation and calm into her room.
Beatrice Glaviano ’26 finds ways to bring relaxation and calm into her room.

When it comes to experimental fears, we often act or view things in a certain way because of past experiences with them. For example, I used to despise blondes. Note the “e” with that, as that denotes specifically women, not men. Growing up, I was bullied by a lot of people who happened to be blonde with blue eyes. Because of this, I made the association of blonde people = bad. Now, one of my best friends has the blondest of hair and the bluest of eyes. Who knew?

I believe there is this perception that we work against fear in order to beat it. Personally, I believe in working with your fear in the sense of trying to understand it. Similar to anger, our fear serves to protect us from something that we identify as a threat. By trying to understand the logic behind our fears, we are better able to understand why that fear exists and a way to overcome it.

I’m not sure if my friends read my articles, but if there’s one thing that they know, it’s that I love the gym. It serves as a coping mechanism and a way to better my health as a whole, and it allows me to take care of myself in the way that I like (AKA loud music and lifting heavy things). But also:

Author, to herself: “ I really need to hit legs? Like, realllyyy?”

Author, back to herself: “Well, it’s good for EMT. It’s good for our health, and c’mon, you like it. You’re just always afraid of squats.” [Slightly judgmental coffee sip]

That’s right: I am occasionally afraid of the gym. I feel as though this has to do with my fear of failure, but also, now, a fear of the expectations of others. People know I go to the gym. I wrote an article on it, I posted it on my story, so on and so forth.

Over the course of my past 19 years on Earth (though I’d probably only really remember the last thirteen to be very honest with you), I’ve realized that growth is often a scary thing despite it being good in the long run. This, I believe, has to do a good part to do with the fact that growth involves change. We will change as people over time, like all things do, but conscious change is a lot harder to stick to rather than subconscious.

Going through puberty, for example, isn’t something anyone can stop simply because we don’t have conscious control of our hormones or genetics. However, we do have conscious control over who we let into our life, the daily habits we implement for ourselves, and how we choose to perceive things; it will take conscious repetition of doing something uncomfortable that produces a (hopefully) positive change in our lives. This can be seen in making new study habits, getting better at cleaning your dishes in a timely manner, or even refraining from popping a zit.

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 working on an anatomy and physiology lab assignment.
Beatrice Glaviano ’26 working on an anatomy and physiology lab assignment.

Essentially, forming new habits can be scary because we are afraid of putting effort in for nothing. Going back to the gym (again), a lot of people lose hope because they’re not seeing any physical changes. They’ve been eating right, doing their morning mile runs, and sweating horrifically through their shirts – and yet, nothing seems to have changed. This is when a perspective change is needed. Instead of focusing on the physical, what about the emotional? The intellectual? Are you less stressed out? Are you able to move around a bit more easily than before? Little things like these tend to happen far before any real, drastic physical changes start to occur.

Additionally, to really see any true progress in the gym (in a physical sense) it will typically happen as one’s lifestyle makes a change in and of itself. My body has changed, yes, but it hasn’t changed super drastically and that’s probably because my overall lifestyle hasn’t changed. I’m not a student athlete. I’m just someone who likes going to the gym and nourishing my body. If I were a soccer player or someone doing track, I’d imagine my legs would be a little bit stronger and my cardiovascular stamina higher. Like I said, it’s the little things that one should notice while allowing time as a whole to do its job. With time, actually, consistency is the name of the game.

While I’ve certainly taken breaks from the gym (sometimes months at a time), I always end up coming back to it as I know what’s healthy for my body at that time. I find movement that I like, and that challenges me a little beyond my comfort zone. The moment you’re able to be comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable is when the world will start working in your favor.

We as humans have evolved in pursuit of dopamine and serotonin. Additionally, we’re creatures that prefer to do as little work as possible to release those chemicals – which is perhaps why fast food is one of the most addictive things on the planet. I’m sure that there’s plenty of psychology on this, but this article is more about action than the processes leading up to it.

How to Get Over Fear: A Teenager’s Advice

  1. Do it scared.
    • Nobody is going to make you a “better person” unless it’s your own self. That’s the real truth. If you’re still scared, that just shows that you’re serious about making improvements because you understand what you must do to challenge yourself. This is a leap of faith moment for you. Yes, you’re afraid, but there is a certain level of trust that you need to have in yourself that you are able to do hard things. You can do difficult tasks and be okay not knowing how they will go.
    • There is also a certain level of self-respect you must have for yourself, too. If you really, really want to change your life as a human being it will undoubtedly have to start with you. You are the sole determiner of what foods you eat (though your medical history may also have a certain say), the people you hang out with, and the messages you allow into your headspace. You are the one deciding how your life will go, the challenges you undergo (or at least how you decide to navigate through them), and how fast and far you will push yourself.
  2. Be okay with the presence of fear.
    • Being afraid of new things is normal. It was like trying new foods when you were a kid. You really, really, reaaalllyyy didn’t want to, but eventually you caved and gave it a shot. Perhaps it wasn’t as bad as you thought, or it was worse. Either way, you tried, and that’s the goal here. Even if your best is just getting to the gym and messing around on an elliptical for a little while, that still counts as something because you got there!! You were afraid and you still tried to do something new and uncomfy!!! How amazing is that?
  3. Allow growth and, with it, grace.
    • There won’t always be good gym days. Most times, they will be just...normal. You lift some heavy things, get a semi-pump, and drink some water from an overly stickered college water bottle. Then you go home and eat a scary amount of protein. Sometimes, you’ll get that PR; your friend slaps you on the back as giddiness rides across your shoulders. A week later, you end up bailing a squat because halfway down you realize that your knees aren’t as young as they used to be. This is when you need that grace with yourself, including patience.
    • Understand that it’s okay to fail because that’s how you grow. The consistency in routine that you’ve set up for yourself will serve as a safety net as you have already programmed your mind and body to perform a certain routine and thought process. Success, failure, and consistency is how we navigate through life and are integral in our process of navigating through it. It’s like overwatering a plant: trying to force growth typically only causes harm (and, in this case, a likely chance of root rot).

Fear is like dough: the more you work with it, the more pliable it is. (How Sicilian can a metaphor be? Sheesh). However, how much you decide to take on at a time is completely up to you. This article isn’t supposed to tell you to have this “I’m gonna conquer my fears in no time! Rah!!” No. Fears can take days, months, or even years to fix. Growth is a lifelong process, so there is no ‘certain time’ of which you will reach your ‘ultimate self.’

We’re human, after all. The whole purpose of all of this is to be better than we were in the beginning – or at least to try our hardest to get there. Just trust things. Trust in yourself, trust in your capabilities, and more importantly, trust time. Time can do a lot if you let it (this was one of the major life lessons I learned earlier on in my college career).

I hope everyone is having a great week, and when the time comes to work on some New Year’s resolutions, keep this article in mind. Who do you want to be? Why? How do you plan on getting there? What if you don’t? If you haven’t noticed, I like asking a lot of rhetorical questions throughout my articles as it not only lets me think about my life, but it encourages you all (my lovely readers) to ask yourself these things, too.

I love you all so much, and I really wish the best for everyone this upcoming holiday season. Stay tuned, and stay proud of yourselves. Please feel free to reach out to me at or my personal email, regarding questions, blog ideas, or commentary.

You can do anything. I promise.

With peace, love, and (to my therapist’s liking) cookie butter,
Bea ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 is a nutrition sciences major at the University of New Haven.