Fears are something that everyone faces. They can be rational or irrational and they are all valid. Some fears are necessary to overcome but there are some that we simply can’t get over. Those are the fears that we should embrace.
The fear that I struggle the most to overcome is the fear of failing. I remember having it since elementary. I was always a straight A’s student and was terrified whenever I got a B. Now thinking about it, I realized that I was afraid of other people’s judgements and opinions. Even though I have recognized the cause, I still have a hard time trying to address this fear. Sometimes, because of this fear, I would avoid the problem and procrastinate with social media. I am also a fan of theatre and because of this fear, I am extremely afraid of stepping out and performing, which is the whole point of theatre.
Personally, my fear of failure has impacted me in such a way that I struggle to do daily tasks. I struggle to finish my everyday school work and I find it very challenging to do what I want because I am scared of failing and I am afraid of other people’s judgements. Until now, it is still very challenging for me to overcome it; but I am trying my best everyday to combat this fear.
Darkness is also what I’m afraid of. I think this fear started when I was camping and it was in complete darkness. I was about to sleep when I saw really peculiar human shapes. They were moving and wiggling and that freaked me out so much that I ran out of the tent crying for help. From that day, I had terrible nightmares about those “people”, they always haunt me whenever I'm in a dark room or area. I think that this fear is related to the fear of the mystery, the fear of not knowing what’s happening, since we can’t see that well in the dark.
For this blog post, I asked teenagers, both TTL members and non-TTL members, to write about some of their fears.
I am absolutely terrified of spiders. It doesn’t matter if they are big or small, I am very afraid of them. When I was a bit younger, any time I would see a spider, I would immediately start crying. Now that I’m a bit older, I can better control my reactions, but just because I have a poker face does not mean that I’m not screaming on the inside. I’m not sure what triggered this fear. I remember looking at a few National Geographic magazines (my family used to have a subscription) and coming up on a magazine cover with a huge spider, with gray hairs scattered across its 8 legs. The most terrifying part was that it had fangs and multiple eyes. (I feel absolutely disgusting writing this — it feels like this spider is crawling all over me.) My fear has also led me to believe that now, I have a “spider detector.” I know this sounds strange, but for some reason, I can walk into a room and instantly shoot my head in one direction and point out, “There’s a spider there” — I’m so afraid of spiders that I’ve literally turned into Spider-Man. One vivid memory of using my “spider detector” was actually in my mom’s car. My mom had picked me and my sister up from school and on the way home, I glanced underneath the cupholder on the door and immediately started screaming, “THERE’S A SPIDER IN YOUR CAR!!” The spider crawled out and kept crawling towards me, even as I played a game of musical chairs in my mom’s minivan to avoid it. My sister looked up the information about the black and green striped spider… and told us it was a jumping spider that’s rare in this part of North America. Fast forwarding in the story, we ended up stopping at a car wash to vacuum the little guy out, he got stuck in one of the seats, my mom had to detach the seat, one of the car wash employees had to help us find him, and then we finally sucked him up. I think that memory really sealed the deal that I will forever be afraid of spiders.
I have this pretty irrational fear of large bodies of water — particularly natural water. When I was really little I remember going to the beach and playing in the ocean with my mom and sister, so it wasn’t always a problem. But after a while, it would show itself in different ways. I’m not totally certain what order these things happened in, but I remember taking trips to the maritime museum and getting anxious when we would go below the waterline of a ship or submarine, even though they were completely still, docked in their normal spots. The first intense reaction happened when my dad took me and my sister to Long Beach where we visited the aquarium and the Queen Mary, an old steamship that remains docked, now serving as a museum and hotel.
The aquarium was fun, I remember liking it, and I don’t think I was at all phased by going there. I honestly don’t remember much about the trip other than the propeller room on the Queen Mary. Essentially, a room was built, attached to the outside of the ship that allows people to walk out of the ship and look down at the propeller through the water. This freaked me out. I was not only extremely aware of the fact that we were below the waterline, but looking into that water. And for me, the fear has not yet manifested itself in a way that is typically noticeable to other people, but rather internal anxiousness and panic coupled with a sort of inability to look away. So I just stared at this giant bronze propeller, losing it internally. This continues to happen, particularly when I see images of partially sunken ships, and I have a general aversion to being in natural bodies of water — though I enjoy kayaking and have been on two cruises and not been too bothered by it. And last year, for a biology project, I swam in the ocean which I was pretty proud of myself for. I know the fear (for me at least) is pretty irrational, but it is definitely there, though thankfully it is not one that prevents me from leading a relatively normal life.
My biggest fear is outer space. It's way too cold, big, and isolated. There are way too many scary space movies. I can handle scary movies but something about a good horror space movie always gives me full-body chills. Not even aliens scare me really, just the idea of being alone and helpless in outer space away from everyone else. I heard this episode of a horror podcast and it was about this dude stuck in a spaceship with no communication and no sense of time and it was terrifying. I think about that episode a lot. I think aliens can be scary but they don't bother me too much unless it's a psychological disturbing eeriness about them. Like aliens impersonating humans, aliens integrating into society without us knowing? Horrible. A good example of that is Annihilation. That movie isn't about outer space it's about aliens though.
Another one of my biggest fears is parasites. I watched way too much of Monsters Inside Me as a kid so now that is something that grosses me out. It's not like I let this fear affect my decisions, I know the statistics about how many parasites could be in unclean fish or a lake but I will still eat sushi and swim in lakes during vacations. It's just that if I think about something in my body that doesn't belong there, growing, infecting me without my knowledge I get scared. There was this episode of Monsters Inside Me where this lady had a collection of worms in her veins and she kept them as pets. That disgusts me to the very fiber of my being. On top of that, there was this episode of My Babysitter's a vampire where this plant grew through electric wires and had attached itself to this guy's headphones. At one point the main characters pull the headphones off of this dude and we see the vines go into his ear. That was horrifying to watch. One time I had a nightmare where I was pulling a thin white worm from out of my foot, but there was a never-ending collection for me to pull. So yeah! That was gross and scary.
A big fear that I have is having problems with my circulatory system. I’m really fearful of blot clots, cutting off my circulation, blood loss, and getting my blood drawn. I’m not really sure where this fear came from, as I don’t have any particular family history of blot clots or blood issues. The first (and, to this this day, the only) time I’ve ever gotten my blood drawn, I immediately became light headed and nauseas after the nurse had finished up. Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I also have a huge fear of nausea, so I’m sure that my experience with getting my blood drawn largely contributed to what my fear of blood is today. I don’t have a big fear of cuts/bruises/minor external injuries though, which is sort of interesting. I think maybe that means that my fear of blood/more internal injuries could be considered a fear of the unknown?
Everyone has fears and it is important to recognize them. By sharing our fears, we can feel more understood, and it makes us feel less alone if we share the same fears with others. By understanding and recognizing our fears, overcoming them becomes so much easier.