The fear of fear itself*


chickens at the end of the world

I was thinking about writing a blog post about phobias. Did you ever read those fascinating lists of phobias when you were a kid? The fear of chickens – alektorophobia. The fear of dolls – pediophobia. The fear of sharks – galeophobia. I recognise that last one. I sometimes have to get out of the swimming pool, just to check (though I will make it look like I am sitting peacefully on the side of the pool before deciding to dive back in again. I’m not, I’m scanning the deep end for fins).

I had some fun revisiting those lists, and feeling ever more unsettled by discovering how many phobias I have (fear of burglars! fear of space exploration! fear of infinity! fear of driving!**). It was like reading a medical dictionary, and discovering you are, in fact, dead. Then yesterday in the supermarket, buying groceries for tea, the friendly cashier asked me if I was off today? I realised she meant off work, not in the office or wherever, otherwise why would a healthy, capable looking woman in the prime of her life be dressed in jeans and trainers, with hair in a scruffy ponytail, buying chicken (which I am not afraid of, it’s OK) in the middle of the day?

You might well ask. Instead of saying no, I’m not off, I have just somehow managed to carve out an increasingly viable life in which I can pop to the shops and then return home to paint a picture (which I will then likely sell, at some point) with a cat on my knee and a cup of tea in my other hand, I said Yes, nice to have a day off.

This reminded me of another big one: achievemophobia – the fear of success. The inability – nay, the refusal – to internalise the fact that one has made, is making and will continue to make a good go of things. The strong desire sometimes to hijack it all; to press the big red button. To wind things up. To not go for opportunities, because one might get them (the horror! It’s worse than when they say no!). In so many ways, I ache to self combust – BOOM! There would be nothing to worry about anymore. Good job I also have autocombustophobia and know how to avoid it.




**My friends and family know all about my protracted, decades old, struggle with driving. It’s quite clearly highly dangerous! How can anyone can remember which pedal is which? I don’t trust myself one little bit, and go on the bus instead.

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