Things I Am Irrationally Afraid Of

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


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  • Anonymous

    you don’t have sex?

    • Stephanie Georgopulos

      dry spell beb. you understand.

      • Anonymous

        totes, and also: how you doin?

  • Julian Galette

    I’ve got the train track train fear. And replace Pigeons with Seagulls. 

    But my ultimate irrational fear is post-shower alien abduction. 

  • Pirate

    Greatest Fears:
    1) Seeing someone watching you through a dark window at night, standing there…silently2) Finding a dead body in a broom closet…yup.

  • Brian McElmurry

    I used to get super stoned and paranoid about choking, or my throat closing up. Not so much anymore. Nice article.

    • misskimball

      I used to get that too but it was more like I thought something was growing inside my throat

  • misskimball

    mine are identical twins, very pregnant women and those green street cleaner machines.
    Identical twins is rational though because they are always evil

  • Kay

    pigeonssssss. they remember our faces?? fucking scary. and along the lines with seagulls and pigeons, i have a fear of geese

  • illdoit

    “If pigeons were people, they’d be the type who would throw you into the train tracks.”

    Youre funny,steph.

  • Asdf

    I’m irrationally afraid of making a comment on Thought Catalog. I am so afraid of the repercussions it may have that I edit, edit, edit. Sometimes I over-edit to the point where I actually made an otherwise coherent sentence into a complete train-wreck run-on sentence full of so many pronouns, verbs, split infinitives and danging participles that it would make your head spin and oh yeah, I usually end up editing out a crucial word. 

    Don’t even get me started on my use of passive voice. I’m just a doormat, pushover kinda guy.

  • Heretica Neue

    I used to eat while driving all the time. Then I suddenly became paranoid of choking on the food while I was driving, and having nothing to wash it down with, and then choking to death or crashing my vehicle and then choking to death. Now I won’t even eat a skittle if I’m in the car without a bottle of water. Hell, I sometimes choke on nothing BUT water! I should probably just stop consuming anything at all while driving.

  • chan

    yes, pigeons. yes.

  • dip

    A true rugged independent soul. OH SHIT A PIDGEON FUCK

  • Brit

    It’s like to jumped into my mind to write this article. I have at some point in my life been afraid of  EVERY fear you described, although a couple are a little different due to my location…

    I watch every plane that flies overhead within a semi-low distance… and intense plane crash movie-like scenes flood my imagination until, like you, it has gotten safely out of sight. I don’t share your sentiments toward tidal waves though… I live in Oklahoma so they’re not exactly something to be concerned about… I’m not afraid of choking anymore, but when I was a kid I remember chewing bites of food for minutes that seemed like hours, and feeling like there was no way I could possibly swallow, because surely I would choke. It caused a lot of dinner time problems with my parents, you know that whole, “You can’t get up til you finish your food” speech…I’m sure they thought I was insane…a seven-year old pleading with them  for what she thought was her life over some green beans and pork chops…I am also terrified of having a baby… but not the act of actually caring for it and whatnot, but the birthing process scares the living hell out of me. All of the things that are completely out of your control during labor make me embarrassed to even THINK about… Oklahoma doesn’t have subways (surprise?) but anytime I drive my car over a railroad tracks I have the thought “What if trains really do go super fast and I don’t see it and I think I am safe and then BAM, as I cross the tracks I am destroyed by the sonic speed train?!” or “What if the levers signaling a train start to come down RIGHT as I cross the tracks and I end up trapped between them to face my ultimate fate of being demolished by giant canvas for graffiti artists across the country?!”My absolute worst fear has always been my worst fear, isn’t being murdered or heights or water or anything MOST people are deathly afraid of… I am TERRIFIED of someone watching me while I’m in my house…although it’s not the idea of being seen naked that freaks me out the most, it’s just the idea of being watched while going about my everyday business. I HATE places with large windows that lack opaque covering at night… someone could just be right outside and the indoor lights would keep me from every seeing them. I guess the general idea of being stalked is a good ‘label’ for it. I am afraid of not only pigeons, but all birds actually…I was bitten by one of those evil white geese with the red flaps all over their heads when I was four… I bled, and since then I’ve been traumatized. ESPECIALLY if a bird manages to get indoors… I will lock myself in a room until someone else gets it out. you just don’t know where its going to fly in its panic!!! For some reason my ‘vision’ is that they will peck my ears and eyes. Anyway, I apologize for my novel of a response…it is just quite refreshing to know other people in the world have the same irrational fears I do! And especially that you know they’re irrational just like I do… most people do not get it at all when I try to describe that… 

  • Miranda

    Mine: Televisions that are turned off, because weird shit only happens (“weird shit” here meaning someone crawling out of it) when the TV is off. Wandering around the house at night. Bathrooms. Mirrors. Going down stairs without a railing to hold onto. Going downhill. Standing near the edge of something. Accidentally scratching paper, cardboard, or the outside of cars.

    • Jason Ham

      My friend’s house does not have a banister on her set of stairs… Because of that, her kids treat the house like a jungle gym which is awesome for them but going up and down the stairs TERRIFIES me.

  • Jason Ham

    What is with “creative types” and anxiety disorders?! Christ!

    Did I mention I never wear short sleeves or shorts unless I’m only with REALLY close friends or family because I hate people’s judging eyes…? :C

    • A.

      Completely understand- I’m the same way.

  • Kushagra Udai

    You sure remember a lot of your dreams! And that’s not to mention that they’re mostly apocalyptic – I mean, what’s with that?!

  • Laurel

    You are my absolute favorite

  • Guest

    The ending was hilarious. Stephanie, you are by far my favorite author on Thought Catalog. 

  • Anonymous

    Fear – Leaving the stove on

  • Sophia Doe

    Omg! I have the exact same plane thing too. I have had the dreams for years, and I do the exact same thing when I hear a plane.

  • Sophia Doe

    Omg! I have the exact same plane thing too. I have had the dreams for years, and I do the exact same thing when I hear a plane.

  • Natt Smith


    • Asdf

      That’s OK. Fear not, for we suffer from similar things. I suffer from trypophobia. Those fucking lotus seed pods. Beehives. You name it. Undefined holes are at once disgusting and terrifying. Ugh.

      • Aaaahhhhh

        I get so much shit for being afraid of undefined holes. I’m glad I’m not alone. Looking at Lotus Seed Pods make me itchy.

  • ANG

    pigeons are such assholes.
    are you cereal about them remembering faces? what the FUCK.

  • ANG

    pigeons are such assholes.
    are you cereal about them remembering faces? what the FUCK.

  • Frida

    I have a big phobia of statues(sometimes the ones in churches), especially big ones, fountains, or giant, old portraits of people It’s  hard to explain to people.  But I have a need to run out of the places.

    Also, looking into a mirror with the lights off, being in a bathroom with the lights off (thanks to Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark, if you know which one I’m referring to with the mirror.)
    I think I will leave the other ones out of this.

  • Anonymous

    I jumped out of my skin when I saw the photo of the pigeon that accompanied this article. They are terrifying.

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