July 21, 2011

Things I Am Irrationally Afraid Of

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What is the issue?

Airplane Apocalypse. The longest-held fear I have is of airplanes. I’m not afraid of flying (give me a bottomless supply of Xanax and Bloody Marys and I’ll get my mail forwarded to the sky) – I’m scared of planes that I can watch from ground level, planes in mid-flight. Directly after 9/11, every plane was ordered to fly substantially lower than what was normal. Whenever I saw or heard a plane in the weeks that followed the attacks, I’d drop out of whatever conversation I was having and watch the plane until it was out of view, as though my watching the plane would somehow detract it from crashing. I’d stop in the middle of crossing a street if a plane seemed too low, I’d crane my neck out of a car window and guide it with my eyes.

The dreams started shortly thereafter – I’d see one plane fall neatly out of the sky, without purpose or provocation. It always appears accidental, the plane slips into a body of water and dream-me is able to accept it. But moments later, I bear witness to hundreds of planes falling out of the sky, crashing into buildings, crashing into the sidewalk, lighting the city on fire. I have these dreams at least twice a month and will probably continue to do so until I can afford therapy or at least, hypnotization.

Tidal Wave Apocalypse. Similar to Airplane Apocalypse, I have a paralyzing fear of tidal waves destroying the city (as seen in my dreams). I think my brain likes to store the very worst imagery from CNN, make a cocktail of those images, and get drunk on it while I’m sleeping.

Choking. I forget how to swallow my food. It’s one of the ways my anxiety manifests itself. I have to consciously focus on swallowing what I’ve chewed, which makes me anxious, which makes me choke. I have to have a drink in front of me in order to eat (sounds like an exaggeration, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has dined with me that can state otherwise). I don’t eat while walking or while on the subway or while riding in a car.

Having a baby. In order to have a baby, one must have sex – and so this isn’t an immediate concern for me. I’m not even (all that) afraid of giving birth to a baby. It’s the having it, afterward, forever. Paying for it, mostly. Having a baby seems like an uninsured person’s nightmare. Also, I don’t really know how to hold babies, or change them, or make sure that they don’t choke. I would actually like my baby to be born as a five-year-old.

Getting pushed into the subway tracks as the train is arriving. If I had to give you a rough estimate, I take the subway 600 times a year. You’d think I’d be over the “someone’s going to push me into the train tracks” thing by now. It only takes once though, am I right? I know I could tuck and roll out of the train’s path, and that trains aren’t driving all that fast if they’re stopping to pick up passengers, but I’m still nervous that someone with nothing to lose will throw me in, just for owning an iPhone (and honestly? I guess I’d understand if that were the case.)

People watching me get dressed through my window. Growing up, I could see directly into a Fat Naked Man’s apartment (mostly, I could see into his bathroom). It was my first experience as a voyeur, and I loved it. I watched him cook naked, use the bathroom naked; just about anything you’d want to see a Fat Naked Man do (and more). But now, I live in fear that someone is doing the same to me. No one should be afraid of being naked in their own home, but I’m crippled by the idea of someone staking out a spot on the roof across the street to peer into my window. This fear has motivated me to clean my room more often, so it’s not altogether terrible.

Pigeons. I will zig-zag and loop de loop to avoid a pigeon. Pigeons have violated my personal space countless times, flying inches away from my face and even going as far as to shit on me. Hearing the flap of their dirty wings makes me want to call my mom and invite her to spend the weekend. If pigeons were people, they’d be the type who would throw you into the train tracks. A few weeks back, a study was released on pigeons – they never forget a human face. In fact, they are incapable of forgetting a face. If you fuck with a pigeon, it will remember you and it will get revenge. If that doesn’t keep you up at night, add your name to the bottom of this list. You are scary. TC mark

Stephanie Georgopulos

Steph is a former editor at Thought Catalog and a current writer at Studio@Gawker. Her work has appeared on Glamour, …

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