I am not easily intimidated.
Sure, I get a little nervous about public speaking, and I never, ever, sing in front of an audience — but for the most part, I’m not really afraid to try new things, or speak my mind. I stand up for myself. In short — I don’t take a lot of shit from people.
My mother says it’s my natural combativeness. That I shouldn’t be so confrontational. I’m usually quick to point out that, 1) she raised me, so clearly my behavior is completely her fault, and 2) she should be thrilled that I’m not anybody’s doormat. It’s a good thing I’m so tough.
That being said — there are a few things that terrify me. Like, irrationally terrify me. I’ve taken the liberty of ranking them for you in order from least scary to I-think-I-just-shit-my-pants.
Skating/Skiing/Biking. In general, if it’s not a car, or my feet — I’m not using it for transportation. Skating (both roller and ice) has tormented me since I was a little girl. My parents can both skate, and year after year I was tortured at roller/ice rink birthday parties. Eventually I’d get the hang of roller skating — and after a few trips around the rink I’d start to enjoy myself. But never, ever, ice skating (see number two). Ice skating, skiing and biking all lost their appeal after I managed to fall in some freak accident and got hurt. The last time I went ice skating, I was 17, skate-flirting with Doug Johnson, and ended up with a broken tailbone. The last time I went skiing, I was nine, fell down using a hand lift, and got hit in the face by a ski-lift handle. The last time I rode a bike, I swerved to avoid a car, ran into a chainlink fence and went over the handlebars and into a steel post, chest first.
Ice. Winter is a stressful time of year for me. Yes, I love that it’s cold outside, and I don’t get sweaty. And I get to wear sweaters again, which usually means I can eat more pizza. And don’t even get me started on the amount of Christmas gifts I receive. But the ice. Oh. My. God. The Ice. I’m terrified of walking on it, or near it. If there’s ice on the ground, and grass in sight — you can bet your ass I’m walking across someone’s front yard. I know no one enjoys slipping and falling — it hurts, and it almost always happens in front of someone who’s going to laugh at you instead of helping you up (no? that’s just my friends? those bastards.) — but I am honestly crippled with fear when I have to walk anywhere outside and there could be ice. It’s invisible! You never know where it’s going to be! Mother Nature, you’re the worst.
Boats. This one is a little more specific. I’m not afraid of actual boats. I’m not afraid of the act of boating — I don’t even get seasick. No. I’m afraid of getting on and off of a boat. You know that crack between the boat and the dock? I’m convinced the boat is going to move, I’m going to fall in that crack, hit my head on the pier, and no one is going to see it happen. Then I die a watery death. It’s worse getting off the boat for some reason. And don’t even get me started on little boats. You want me to climb into a canoe?! No thank you, Girl Scouts of America.
Spiders. Spider and I? We go way back. As a child, I regularly picked up daddy long legs like it was no big deal. I wasn’t afraid of spiders when I was little. And then I saw Arachnophobia, and my life was ruined. Recurring nightmares*? Check? Crippling fear of the world’s smallest spiders? You betcha. I used to hunt them down and trap them so someone else could kill them for me. I couldn’t possibly kill them myself, in case they escaped and fought back. In high school, my stepmother had a pet tarantula, and she and my dad would let it run all over the place! WHO HAS A PET SPIDER?! Then a few years ago — I was sitting at my mom’s kitchen table with my boyfriend at the time, and a spider lowered itself onto my leg. I thought I brushed it off, but I think I just made it stronger. About ten minutes later, I was in mid-sentence when my mom and the bf both simultaneously: leaned back. pointed. screamed. It was the spider. He was back, and he was running across my exposed and vulnerable throat. Like he owned the place. Cue running, screaming, swatting myself. But over the years, spiders and I have come to an agreement. I won’t kill them, if they promise not to touch me. I figure they’ll eat all the other things I hate, and don’t want running around in my basement. *Those recurring nightmares, btw? I dream I’m sound asleep in my own bed, when a giant hairy spider lowers itself onto my face. I either wake myself up punching at the air (and on two separate occasions I’ve grabbed the lamp on my nightstand and thrown it across the room) OR I wake up, crippled with fear, and frozen staring at the ceiling where it should be — hoping that if I stay still it will leave me alone (and then I remember that only works on a T-Rex.)
Bees. Bees are the worst. They sneak up behind you and buzz your ear. They hide in your cup and then sting the inside of your mouth! They can smell fear!! And some of them will swarm and sting you until you die. Yes, I like flowers, and honey, and agriculture in general — and my mom is obsessed with the hive collapse (“We need bees!” could be her mantra), so I can’t bring myself to kill them. So I run, and I swat, even though I know I’m not supposed to. Those reality shows where they cover people with bees? I’d have a heart attack. Also, I’ve only been stung like, twice in 30 years.
Sharks. Admittedly, this is the most irrational of all my fears. I blame Shark Week. I am simultaneously fascinated and terrified by sharks. So, year after year, I can’t tear myself away from the Discovery Channel and it’s week-long, in-depth coverage of my ocean nemesis. Yes, I realize it’s statistically unlikely that I will ever get attacked by a shark. But, I swim in the ocean. Sharks live in the ocean. It could happen. But that’s not really the irrational part. I have, on more than one occasion, had to get out of a swimming pool after convincing myself that there could be a shark in the deep end. That it was down there circling while I was swimming laps. Just waiting to get me, when I least expected it. The upside? Before I broke down and got out of the water – I swam really, really, fast.