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”
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? 🙂