I have never been what you would call a brave person. Most of my life I’ve been plagued by fears, some valid, a lot irrational. As I’ve gotten older, most have tapered off. I’ve been able to face some previous worries and stare them down. Though I will never consider myself a courageous person, I can at least handle most qualms when they arise but maybe not always willingly. I usually deal with uncertainties or ignore them completely. The other night I was home alone and had just crawled into bed when I heard an eerie scratching noise. My only thought was, if burglars are breaking in to the house, I hope they keep it down so that I can sleep. And I promptly fell asleep. (Rest assured no one broke into my house; it was the east wind rubbing a stray branch against the house).
However, there are three intense, irrational intense fears that haunt me. Three things that make me feel and act like a small child again. Here’s my list starting with number three and working up to number one.
I’m reluctant to name number three because it’s a bit melodramatic to include. But if the criteria are things that make me resort to childlike behavior and I even try to avoid dealing with, then it belongs. I’m going to change the wording of it slightly though to make me feel better about myself. Intense, irrational annoyance number three: communicating with my nemesis. Fortunately, we no longer have to work together, but we still are in close proximity of each other. Which means there are awkward passes in the hall which produce dilemmas such as eye contact or no eye contact? Do we make small talk while ignoring the elephant, zebra, and monkey in the room? Can I smile naturally or will it be a forced smile which might look a tad creepy? A lot goes into the one second hall passing because there are at least 30 seconds leading up to it when I watch her approach from the other end of the hallway. Even when I hear her name mentioned I have to force myself not to roll my eyes. Before you judge me, let me try to explain it in terms that might make me look better. Communicating with my nemesis is like being six feet tall and standing in a room that is only 5’9” high. At first, not being able to stand up straight is only a mere inconvenience. But after awhile, it is a huge pain in the neck. That probably didn’t make me look any better, but I liked the imagery.
Intense, irrational fear number two: drowning. Specifically, in a car that has run off the road. This is totally irrational because I like bridges and I enjoy driving along coast lines. However, when there is a curve in the road, I get nervous and clutch the door handle if I’m a passenger or the steering wheel if I’m driving. This particular fear used to not bother me because I thought I had a strategy if I ever found myself sinking in water while trapped in my vehicle. My escape plan was to open the door or roll down the window and swim like the dickens to get air. However, years ago I happened to watch a news program that put holes in my plan. To my horror, I discovered a person can’t open the door or use power windows when a vehicle is submerged in water. The recommendation is to have a screwdriver near the door. There is a magic spot on the window when tapped with the screwdriver the window will break. Then you have to fight the onslaught of water pouring in the vehicle to escape out the window. Perhaps this has moved to an intense, irrational fear because I can’t remember where that magic spot is on the window. I also have never put a screwdriver in the secure spot the program showed us for safekeeping. This fear occasionally will peak at number one if I’m in a vehicle near water.
Intense, irrational fear number one: bears. This fear alone has affected my vacation itinerary for many years. I no longer camp in tents because a bear can rip through a tent looking for meat, which is what I would be. Awhile ago I remember I had a very spooky dream about a bear stalking my house. It was so intense I woke up shaking. In contrast, shortly after, I had a dream I was fighting vampires. I was sad to wake up from this dream because it was so exciting and I wanted to see who the winner was going to be. The conclusion I reached is this, if I’m walking down the street and I see a blood-sucking vampire coming towards me I’ll be ready and willing to fight. If I see a bear coming straight for me, I’m probably going to lose control of my dignity and run in the opposite direction with my arms flailing and yelling hysterically. I haven’t looked up the statistics but I’m guessing I have a greater chance of encountering a bear than a vampire. So I should probably come up with a better plan.
Those are the three intense, irrational fears that keep me humble. I’m not claiming to be capable of handling everything else that comes my way. At least, with everything else I can take a breath and gulp and regain some composure. Here’s fair warning: if dealing with any of these fears on the top of my list, I will resort to childlike behavior. And if being chased by a bear, I will outrun you.