1. Ordering Food. I used to hate ordering out at restaurants and fast food joints. 1.) I was overwhelmed by the choices and 2.) I wasn’t comfortable with small talk. I’d always have the other person order before me– and sometimes order for me. Nowadays, a craving is enough to motivate an eloquent speech.
2. Mirrors After a Horror Film. I’m not sure what I expect to see. A bloody demon? A psycho stalker? The girl from The Ring ’cause I kinda look like her? It doesn’t help that I can’t fall asleep unless it’s completely dark.
My mind projects horrid images before I walk past or in front a mirror and my mind does a pretty good job at freaking itself out. If I have to get a glass of water or use the restroom, I have to rush straight back into my room and dive under covers. Rule #32: nothing can hurt me if I’m under a blanket!
3. Bugs & Spiders. They just freak me out. Even ladybugs, ants and butterflies (they bite, have little antennas and have creepy eyes/mouths). Last autumn at 2 AM I panicked at the sight of a spider on my table. I texted a friend to ask what I should do and ended up waiting for my roommate to finish her shower. She took care of the rest.
“You know, I thought I was afraid of spiders,” she said. “Then I met you.”
My fear of these creatures grew worse as I got older. Maybe I’ve become less open to the world around me, but if that means I don’t have to deal with million-legged centipedes, then I’m good.
4. Heights. Another fear that has intensified since I grew from 4′ 5″ to 5′ 8″. While I was in high school, I went to Six Flags with my cousin Jackie and– under intense peer pressure– rode the swing ride.
While the kids half my age and younger joyfully screamed behind me, I was in what felt like an eternal state of life-or-death. Adrenaline was pumpin’ and I swear my feet almost kicked the leaves off trees. Nothing kept me strapped in except a thin, lame belt. The way the momentum was going, I didn’t even have to reach and could’ve easily landed among the stars.
Odd thing is, when I went to the mountains with Jackie our roles reversed. I loved the thin air, the clumps of snow and the 6,000 feet view, but she was scared out of her mind. Anyway, if you like flirting with death, go on the swing ride.
5. Life After College. I have no set plan. I’m not going to med or law school and I ain’t gonna pursue a graduate degree in English. Am I afraid that I’ll starve to death? Entry-level positions are always in demand. Janitorial work always needs to be done. I also have a few friends with refrigerators… so not really.
I’ve gotten too warm and cozy with the academic system. The “Real World” seems much too cold and not Netflix-y enough.
Or I’m just afraid I won’t ever get to make a living off of what I love to do. Though I feel being consistent should be enough to get you somewhere– especially if you pursue what you love for a lifetime– does rationality make me any less anxious? If only logic was my rope out of life’s quick sand.
6. Intimacy. When I look back at pictures, I’m always the awkward one standing a few inches away from the next person. It certainly doesn’t feel like I was standing that far in the moment. Maybe my personal space bubble’s XL while everyone else flaunts M or smaller.
All the struggling and failed relationships make it hard to see the light. The more people I meet and talk to, the more far-fetched it seems to expect kindness. No one’s perfect, but that doesn’t ease the mind afraid of affliction.
“… love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage…” – Machiavelli, The Prince