I'm not sure if the world is getting scarier, or if it just seems that way.
I feel like long ago, it used to be a big deal when someone was abducted or murdered.
But these days, I just can't keep up with the latest missing college student, Girl Scout, or wife.
Sometimes I'm really tired of being a girl. It's exhausting being so terrified of doing things I shouldn't have to fret over.
I'm scared to walk in my neighborhood alone. I look over my shoulder every night when I'm walking in the parking lot to my apartment. Noticing a strange man looking at me makes me nervous.
Being a newspaper reporter in the suburbs surprisingly doesn't help.
Four years ago I interviewed the parents of a beautiful teenage girl who was abducted (and later raped and killed) from a Target parking lot in broad daylight. The girl's father convinced me to take his self-defense class (which I did a week later) and after the interview, he gave me a high-pitched whistle, which I still carry on my key chain today.
A couple years ago, I interviewed another father whose college-aged daughter was brutally murdered by a complete stranger at my parents' neighborhood pool. After the interview, her father made it a point to walk me to my car to make sure I left the country club safely.
In other words, scary shit doesn't discriminate. It can happen to anyone, anywhere.
So, I live in fear.
I rarely go to the store alone. In fact, I can count on my hand how many times I've gone to the store alone in the past four years. When I'm walking to my car, I just assume someone is following me and practically run. Just a few months ago, some man approached me in a dimly lit parking lot to see if he could borrow my jumper cables to restart his car and instead of helping him, I ran away and called the police. Turns out, he really was having car trouble, but still.
Sometimes I wish I wasn't so paranoid and scared of the world. I wish I could just jump in my car and drive into the sunset, without worrying that the bogeyman will be waiting for me when my car breaks down. I wish I could backpack across another continent without fear of being captured for the sex slave trade. I wish I could go to Target without wondering if I'm next.