“List a few phobias you have. When and how did you discover you had these fears?”
Oh my, what a complex one this time. I mean, everyone has fears that range from large to small, depending on what’s important to them, or what they can tolerate. Sometimes fears can be crippling, and other times they can be overcome with just a bit of persistence. I think my own fears sit firmly in the middle of these two possibilities because while my fears aren’t crippling, neither are they ones I overcome after some difficulty. In fact, I usually just avoid them if I can.
Here are a few of my phobias…
1. The dark. When I was little we didn’t have nightlights. When I was finally in my room and tucked under my covers and my mother had left the room I was afraid. Maybe not of the boogeyman, or monsters hiding in my closet, but I think my “monsters” were worse because they were unknown. I couldn’t name them because they were the dark itself, creeping around corners and hiding in my eyelids.
2. Heights. I know. A 6 foot 4 inch man has absolutely no excuse to have a fear of heights, but it started early, when I wasn’t so tall. Yeah, that’s my excuse. I first noticed that heights had an effect on me when I was eight years old on a ladder at school helping to hang some decorations on the walls. I was probably only on the fifth or sixth rung when I looked down, which was a big mistake. The floor rose up to meet me, and I was lucky my teacher was right there or I would probably have hurt myself.
3. Crippling injury. Death doesn’t really scare me because when I’m dead I won’t know anything more. I won’t be in pain, and really pain is what I fear. I’m worried that at any moment something could happen to me that would put me in a wheelchair, or take away one of my senses, or seriously debilitate me so I don’t have a good quality of life. When I was in high school I heard the story of a man who had been very active who had a freak accident while diving and now he’s a paraplegic. For weeks after that I had a recurring nightmare that it was me, that it would happen to me.
4. Rejection. A friend of mine said it well a few years ago. I don’t cope well when people don’t like me, or when they don’t at least pretend to like me. I keep track of every single person who unfriends me on Facebook, and I wonder why. What did I do or say, or not do, or not say, that caused them to reject me? When I was young I had one friend, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Others just didn’t seem to want to be around me for long enough to say, “yes, we’re good friends.” They still don’t, and I’m still not sure why.
My fears are fears for many different reasons, and I have a lot more than those four above. I guess the only thing that really ties them all together is that unknown factor, which is a primary part of the human condition. I can’t know everything, and I’m not supposed to, but if I could see into the future and be able to avoid some things it would be incredible. It would alleviate my fears, but it would probably also give me so many more questions, and I would keep my nose to the glass trying not to miss anything that could save me.
So maybe I’ll just work harder to control my fears instead of letting them control me. Easier said than done.