When I was younger I used to joke that I was only afraid of three things: clowns, needles, and country music. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’m still terrified of clowns, as every sane person should be. However, I’m no longer scared of needles, thanks to receiving a multitude of them before moving to Zimbabwe, and I’ve also developed an appreciation for some forms of country music, mostly because I went through a Johnny Cash phase in my early 30’s and more recently binge-watched three seasons of Nashville with my wife.

The unfunny thing about my fears is that I have many more than three. Without spending too much time thinking about them, I can easily make a lengthy list, such as:

  • Dying before my kids are old enough to take care of themselves
  • Dedicating too much of my daily life (and vacations) to my work and my phone
  • Wondering when people will realize I’m inherently lazy and inefficient
  • Messing up my kids with inadequate parenting skills
  • My shyness being interpreted as arrogance
  • Having to network in a room full of strangers
  • My crazy puppy racing out the door and getting hit by a car
  • Not investing enough into my older son’s social and academic development
  • Realizing that I’m a sell-out who got a desk job instead of writing a novel
  • Squandering my resources instead of giving more to people in need
  • Not being suitably qualified to find a new job or career opportunity
  • Staying in the same job because I lack the courage to try something else
  • Becoming seriously ill or losing my mobility
  • Cutting open my hands while washing the dishes
  • No longer being useful or valued in my professional life
  • Participating in a system that marginalizes or devalues others
  • Moving into a greater leadership role … and not moving into a greater leadership role
  • Being fake and insincere around others and with myself
  • Caring too much about things that don’t truly matter
  • Admitting to my constant struggle to believe in God
  • Embracing too much public transparency and vulnerability

But mostly I’m afraid of getting into my car one night and discovering there’s a clown in the back seat.


2 thoughts on “Fears

  1. Scott Myers says:

    Interesting post. I have a theory that society’s collective, fully justified fear of clowns can be triangulated to the clowns in Poltergeist and/or Stephen King’s “It.” Evidently clowns were once seen as benign, based on the fact that McDonalds chose a clown to serve as the most articulate, sane and intelligent character among their cast of spokesperson misfits (Grimace is pretty creepy too, actually). I have an irrational fear of buses (city buses only…school buses are ok). I’m alright being in them, just not near them when they are driving down the street. I trace this back, perhaps, to a fear that as a runner, being hit by a bus makes for a pathetic obituary. I think many fears are instilled by culture/environment/upbringing…people take their cues from their social/family circles. Others may be some kind of traumatic event (I knew a guy in the Army who had a full-blown phobia of cotton balls. Naturally some other guy took the cotton ball out of an aspirin bottle, put it on the cotton-ball fearing dude’s shoulder while he was sleeping and then abruptly woke him up. I still remember the sergeant who had to then counsel our platoon how some soldiers are scared of dying in battle, some are scared to jump out of a plane, and others still are scared of cotton balls). Other fears are probably genetically hard-wired, such as the fear of heights, as a survival mechanism.

    I found your “struggle to believe in God” as the most intriguing personal fear of yours.

    Thanks for the post.



    • Ooh, I’m now afraid of school buses (or at least getting off them) as I fell on the stairs of one of them Saturday and badly bruised my back and shoulders. There’s nothing benign about clowns. I mean, what are they hiding behind their makeup and weird clothing? 🙂


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