Everyone is afraid of something. Some of us are afraid of many somethings. Yet in life we often find ourselves facing the very things we would most like to permanently avoid.

I’m well acquainted with my own fears, but I find it very interesting to learn what scares the heck out of other people. Maybe it’s empowering to know that I blithely face things that make others cringe. But really, true power comes from confronting your fears.

So here’s my proposition: you share your fears and I’ll share mine. What are the things that you most fear and yet still find yourself having to face?

Now I want to establish a few ground rules. I’m talking about fears for yourself, not those on behalf of others. I could spend the rest of day listing fears on behalf of my children, and that really would not be entertaining – maybe curiously morbid at best.

And it should be a fear of something you expect to confront at some point. I, for instance, don’t relish the thought of facing a zombie apocalypse, but I also don’t actually expect the living dead to be a real danger any time in my foreseeable future. You might feel differently, and if so, I want to hear about it.

So since I started this, I’ll go first.Spiders are what Kate Dolan fears above all else

I’m terrified of spiders. It’s not a rational fear, because there are many things in life that can hurt me much more than a hairy little eight-legged, beady eyed, creepy crawly creature. Even the bites of the poisonous variety would probably not cause nearly as much grief as an auto accident. But cars don’t spin webs. And they don’t suck the life out of their victims. And they just don’t look scary (although maybe they should.) My fear of spiders is based solely on how they look. I hate them and the moment I see one, I run to grab a can of insecticide and the vacuum cleaner. And that can of spray is much more of a danger, I’m sure. Anyway, I can’t avoid spiders because they live everywhere that humans do. And apparently they don’t realize that it’s in their best interest to hide from me.

Though my first fear is pretty much unavoidable, my second fear is actually one that I could avoid and do try to most of the time. But last weekend proved to be equivalent to living the giant spider scene from Harry Potter II in terms of that second fear.

I am afraid of speaking in front of people. I even get tongue-tied talking in front of friends, if there’s more than three or four of them listening at a time. My thought process starts to seize up and sometime words seem to bypass my brain and just flood out of my mouth with no advance preparation. It’s really scary to realize that not only do I not know what to say next, I don’t even know what I just said—or why.

Last weekend I spoke on several panels as part of the Baltimore Book Festival and emerged from the three-day event feeling like I’d been sucked dry by one of those giant spiders. And here’s the ridiculous part – I volunteered to speak on those panels. No one held a gun to my head or slipped me mind-altering drugs – it was my choice.

It is a unfortunate fact of life that in order to publicize books, sometimes the author has to speak in public to let people know they exist. Both the author and the books. I don’t know why people expect someone who deliberately chose a profession where they work in quiet solitude to be interesting or enlightening when thrust into the opposite situation, but authors are asked to speak in pubic all the time. Maybe it’s for the fish out of water experience – look at her – she can write 100,000 words in two months but can’t put together two coherent sentences aloud. I don’t know. But whatever the case, most authors are expected to say something about their work aloud occasionally.

Frankly, I’d rather kiss a spider.

Okay maybe I’m not that desperate yet.  But check back with me after next year’s festival.  In the meantime, I want to know – what are the things that you fear yet cannot seem to avoid? Please share!