As humans, we often come equipped with a handful of paralyzing fears, many of which seem to contradict our personalities, interests or occupations. Today I have put together my FIVE biggest fears in hopes that they might make others realize they are in good company when it comes to irrational phobias.
The stories below are told as I remember them, not necessarily as they actually happened.
5.) Ocean creatures
Specifically, the kind of creatures that like to be underfoot when someone is walking in the ocean.
When I was about 12 years old I went with my family to visit my uncle, aunt, and cousins in Florida. I was so anxious about going into the water that I brought with me an old pair of tennis shoes to wear into the water. Nowadays there are water shoes you can wear but I had decided to invent my own. The morning of our beach visit as we were putting on our swim trunks I grabbed my shoes from the porch and hid them in my towel. Upon arrival at the beach slipped them onto my feet with no socks and made my way down to the water. I was so anxious about the situation that I didn’t notice that something was pretty off about the shoes. They were several sizes too big for me. They weren’t even my shoes. These were my uncle’s shoes. My uncle’s brand new tennis shoes of the same brand and style as my old pair. My uncle was so angry with me that his face went that crazy shade of beet red that they show in cartoons. Thankfully my parents were there to try to sort it all out.
Specifically, the pokey pokey sharp end that pokes.
When I was about 8 years old I went with my mom to the doctor’s office for my yearly checkup. The nurse was an old school nurse who didn’t have time for kids and their hijinks or bellyaching. This nurse had no issue showing me the hypodermic needle as she filled it with an evil serum. She kept making gestures that drew my eyes to the needle as she prepared to stick it in my posterior. I talked nervously to her about how I was fine until all of a sudden I wasn’t fine anymore. I had a vasovagal reaction and passed out head first towards the floor. Nowadays when I get anything done I make sure the nurse knows what is possibly going to happen and I make sure never to look right at the needle.
3.) Royally messing something up beyond my ability to repair
Specifically, an expensive and time-consuming failure involving a car engine, plumbing, or electrical work.
As a kid I loved to see how things worked. I would take things apart, study how they worked and then completely fail to get them back together and working again. I had a cousin that was extremely mechanically inclined and a grandfather that could take a tank apart and put it back together again as a lawnmower with no extra pieces. I just didn’t have the mind for it. For some reason or another, I was given lots of opportunities to “try again” on fixing things that were broken. These opportunities almost always led to me showing how badly I could ruin whatever it was I was working on. These days I still have trouble getting myself up to the challenge of fixing something that is broken without breaking out into a cold sweat.
Specifically, crowds that have a lot of people in them.
This one makes little to no sense to most people. Because I am an actor, a speaker, and an improviser, and I flourish in front of an audience they think that I should have the same rush when I am in an unorganized crowd of people. In my mind, audiences are good and crowds are monstrous evil masses of evil monsters. If I have a job to do at a function featuring a large crowd I can keep things under control. If I have no job and no prior knowledge of the group, I can get pretty shaken up after about ten minutes or so. Luckily for me, I usually have a job to do in those situations or I know a few people that I can break off with and minimize the stress.
1.) Missing the cues of a desperate friend in need
Specifically, friends who are close to ending their own life
When I was in college I had a friend try to commit suicide in the dorm bathrooms. Luckily we found him, got him to the hospital and he lived. Afterward, we went to visit him where he was resting and healing up and we found that he was behind a series of locked doors. The explained what had happened and what signs we might notice if something like this was ever a possibility again in the future. I am normally so sensitive to these types of strong emotions in others that it really bothered me that I was not able to see what was happening to him. Nowadays it creeps back into my mind that there may be someone close to me that is putting on a smile and a brave face but is really having a terrible time inside and thinking about ending it all. I try to make sure my friends know that if they ever feel that way that I am there for them and they always have someone to talk to.
You always have someone to talk to. If you start thinking those kinds of thoughts call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You are never alone.