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.
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!
You didn’t sound at all scared, Kate, when I heard you speak last weekend, which is what really counts. You sounded smart and erudite and you brought cake. What more could we ask for?
I probably should just feed everyone cake during any speaking engagement. People have told me they’re surprised that I’m scared because it doesn’t show. I’m not sure that’s good. Then when I say something stupid, no one will blame it on nerves. They’ll just think I’m stupid!
Great article, Kate. I can’t stand getting wet, especially on my face. I don’t like to be splashed, tossed in a pool, or pretty much wet in any way. I prefer bathing to showers, because at least then I’m in control of how close the water is to my face.
We flew to Disney this June. It was the first time I flew in over 10 years. I was a nervous wreck. I made it through okay, but if it is another 10 years before I fly again, I’m okay with it.
Okay, I’ll block water for you if you’ll kill spiders for me. Deal?
I love that you said you were afraid of public speaking. Same here, I really get tongue tied and can’t think of articulate ways to say things. I am also in between being afraid of failure but also of success. I don’t want to fail as a writer but I am not sure how it would be to actually be extremely successful, I mean the ” I have an awesome platform with movie rights to my book” success. What would it be like to not have to work two jobs and squeeze my writing time in between working, sleeping , and taking care of my family? Who knows, maybe I will be blessed to find out someday.
You are probably wise to approach success with trepidation. Personally, I’m willing to take my chances with that one!
I never would have guessed Kate!!! You spoke wonderfully, and I didn’t hear you trip over your words at all!!! And your reading was done well. You were a pro 🙂
I too have a great fear of public speaking. But I made it my goal this year to take on a lot of speaking roles such as the BBF, and presenting workshops.
You’re right that as authors we have to sometimes come out of our cozy little writer spaces to talk about our books. Up until the BBF, I hated it. I’d done several engagments prior which left me a sweaty drained mess each time. But something clicked for me last weekend, and I found that I really enjoyed it.
Oh, and I HATE spiders too… And snakes. And I do believe in ghosts too….which scares the bejeebers out of me!
I never would have guessed that public speaking concerned you at all. You were up a panel for about 8 hours a day, weren’t you? You were awesome and I think that means the rest of us don’t need to bother – we’ll just let you talk for us!
Me too me too to public speaking (to those especially on the executive level) and spiders! I might know the stuff frontwards and backwards and then it suddenly leaves my mind in that instant! So frustrating…I’ve been meaning to join my local toastmasters group to help with public speaking but haven’t yet gotten around to it.
If you do join toastmasters, let us know if it works! Of course, it would be awful to go around dreading the additional meetings as well as the other public speaking events
I’m afraid of heights, the dark and WATER! So what do I do? Marry a guy who loves that water and wants a boat. Now I spend every vacation on a boat! Luckily my fear isn’t debilitating, I just wear a life jacket and take dramamine!
Hopefully it is not a tall boat. Do you have to spend the night on the boat? If so, you may want to act like a pirate and drink heavily!
Hahaha…great post and bonus points for the Harry Potter reference. 🙂
I can relate to your spider fear…I actually don’t mind spiders themselves, in fact, I don’t really mind any bugs at all…not even the black widows that are sometimes in our car port. I respect them and stay away from them, but they don’t freak me out.
What freaks me out are the giant cockroaches down here in Florida. Oh…my…God…
Luckily they are not IN the house, but in the evenings sometimes I’ll see them outside and they make me want to scream bloody murder…I have no idea why. They don’t bite, they can’t kill me, but bleah!!! They’re horrible!!
Cockroaches are creepy, but they don’t bother me outside. It’s when they take over insider that I get freaked out. We had so many in our first apartment that we had certain rules like “don’t go into the kitchen at night without first turning on the light and waiting ten minutes for the roaches to run away” The apartment owners had even spray painted over roaches in the cupboards. The more I think about it, the more I wonder whether spiders are really that bad.
Yeah, they are.
Ugh, public speaking is the worst. And spiders. Ick. I feel that if thousands of years in evolution left me with a very visceral reaction to the loathsome creatures, I should respect that fear. Someday I hope to move back to the Pacific Northwest, and they have more spiders per square mile than any other place on earth. At least, that’s what I heard when I was growing up there. Sure seemed to be true. I just have to make sure I have a good spider-man available for spider emergencies. 😉
Ooh, I like that – I’ll have to start referring to my husband (and son) as “Spiderman!”
I can’t believe the Pacific Northwest has more spiders per square mile than the field where we camp for Colonial Craftsman weekend at Jerusalem Mill. It’s full of wolf spiders.
Great post. I have two current fears. No problem with public speaking. I’ve read my non-fiction work many times. I’m afraid that no one will like the fiction writing. My second fear is that I’ll be single for the rest of my life. We’ll see what happens.
Oh, I think those are common fears that we don’t even admit to ourselves. You obviously know yourself and aren’t hiding things, which is great!