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Being Afraid: The Things That Scare Me

Updated on August 24, 2022
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Deb thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and is a Search and Rescue volunteer and writer living in Flagstaff, AZ.


Lions, Tigers, Bears, Oh My!

To be honest, I don't know why I'm doing this -- publicly announcing things that scare me. What's the point, really? Writing about my fears won't make them go away and neither has the fact that I've faced them all on many occasions.

But many of us tend to admit our fears to our friends, family, and even strangers. Maybe there's comfort in knowing we aren't the only ones.

There's also comfort in being understood. I've been helped -- emotionally, psychologically, and even sometimes physically -- by telling those around me that I'm afraid and finding out that they don't think I'm "just being silly."

So, you want to know what scares me? Okay, well, since you asked....

Fear of exposure and falling
Fear of exposure and falling | Source

I Have A Fear Of Exposure

No, I don't mean taking my clothes off.

Although, I should probably be afraid of that too.

But I'm talking about being on the edge of a long way down, which is where I've been countless times while hiking. On one occasion, I was so paralyzed by fear while backpacking in Grand Canyon, my trail-mate had to retrace his steps to where I was standing, frozen, and let me hold onto his backpack as he walked right in front of me. We took baby steps for at least half a mile, as I stared at his feet and we played memory games to keep my mind off of ... well ... death.

We were on a Search and Rescue mission, actually, hiking part of the Tonto Trail between Grapevine Canyon and Cottonwood Creek (west of Horseshoe Mesa), if you're familiar with the area. Along this section, there are stretches where the trail is right on the edge of several hundred feet of sheer cliff, without any visual barriers like rocks or vegetation to make it at least seem not so dangerous. I mean, one slip and ... bye-bye.

Whenever I come to an exposed stretch of trail, be it for ten feet or a mile, I'm very afraid. And I try to avoid such exposure on my hikes as much as possible. Still, it doesn't stop me from walking trails or diminish my love of hiking or backpacking ... or stop me from wondering why the heck they have to put those trails so close to the edge!

Acrophobia and Altophobia both mean fear of heights, but I don't think that's what I have, because I don't mind being up high. I just don't like to be on the edge of those high-up places.

More information on Acrophobia

Are You Afraid of Exposure or Heights?

How afraid are you?

See results
Things That Scare Me
Things That Scare Me

I'm Afraid Of Speed

As in, going really fast

I just learned that this fear has a name: Tachophobia. Definitely put me down for this one. Which is why I don't enjoy downhill skiing, driving on freeways where the speed limit is 75 mph, riding a galloping horse, or flying down long hills on a bicycle.

Whenever I get going too fast--or feel like I am, anyway--I feel out of control, as if I could wipe out at any moment. And that kind of thinking can only get me into trouble ... which it has.

There was the time I started flying downhill on cross country skis and, just from fear, hit the ground hard. It's amazing I didn't break anything, the way I landed with arms, legs and skis a tangled mess, and it wasn't like I had to fall either. If I'd have kept calm, I would have stayed upright.

Then there was the spectacular dive I took off a skateboard when I was a kid, as I was rolling fast down the big hill in my neighborhood. And the road burns and bloody scrapes were spectacular, too. Needless to say, that was the last time I ever got on a skateboard.

More information on Tachophobia

Are You Afraid of Going Fast?

How afraid are you?

See results

This is more my speed.

This is more my speed.
This is more my speed.
Fear of Lightning
Fear of Lightning | Source

I'm Really Scared Of Lightning

Meaning, being outdoors while it's popping

I guess I have Astraphobia too. Dang! But there's no doubt about it, when I hear that first rumble, my pulse quickens and I look around for where I can hide from the several hundred million volts that are sure to follow. Which is why I was darn scared almost daily for a couple of months while hiking the Appalachian Trail. It seemed like nearly every summer day was visited by a thunderstorm and always right where I happened to be.

And most of those storms are etched in my memory, including the time I had to throw down my pack and metal trekking poles and assume the "please don't fry me!" position, crouched on my heels in the pouring rain as the lightning crashed all around. Fun stuff, huh?

I know I said before that I don't like going fast, but just add lightning to the mix, and you'll see me hike faster'n a cheetah on speed!

More information on Astraphobia

Are You Afraid of Lightning?

How afraid are you?

See results
fear of the dark
fear of the dark | Source

I'm Afraid Of The Dark Outdoors

Or being alone in it, anyway

For me, it's not really Lygophobia -- fear of darkness -- because I'm just fine indoors or even outdoors when I'm with other people. It's being all by my lonesome in the dark in the great outdoors that gets me all panicky. Matter of fact, I get the heebie-jeebies even if I have a flashlight when I'm alone at night in the woods (or the desert or a canyon). That little bit o' light makes very little difference.

Oh, heck, you dragged it out of me; I still get nervous even when I have company at night outdoors, if it's just one other person. I mean, if it's just one person, they can only be on one side of me at a time, so that leaves three other sides exposed to the boogie monster, right? Yes, I have quite the imagination.

So it makes a whole lot of sense that I'm often traipsing around at night with one other SAR-mate, looking for the lost and missing (and over my shoulder). Just don't tell my teammates that Deb is a weenie.

Seriously, though, my fear is partially based on not knowing what I'll find when I'm out there, until I'm right on top of it ... or him or her. On one occasion, the find wasn't good, and that sudden shock--though over soon afterward--has stuck with me, I guess.

More information on Lygophobia

Are You Afraid of the Dark? - Particularly the dark outdoors

How afraid are you?

See results
things that scare me
things that scare me | Source

I Have A Fear Of Quads

The kind you drive, not the kind you flex

Also known as 4-wheelers, ATVs and ORVs, quads and I don't get along well. And I wouldn't be driving them at all if it weren't for my volunteer work with Search and Rescue. In SAR, quads come in handy on unpaved Forest Service roads and rough two-tracks, where we often have to search for lost backcountry travelers and patrol the perimeter of an area where someone is missing.

I'm just not comfortable on those heavy beasts, which I feel are determined to tip over with me on and then under them. I'm okay putt-putting along on flat terrain, but when those rocky, rutted back roads cause the machine to pitch to one side or another or angle steeply up or down, I lose all confidence. And that's when I get myself into trouble, often hitting the brake when I really should be giving the thing more gas.

I can't seem to find a fancy phobia name for this one, though. I guess maybe it's too silly to have one. Quadaphobia?

Are You Afraid of Riding Quads?

How afraid are you?

See results
fear of bees
fear of bees

And I'm Extremely Scared Of Bees

And anything else with a stinger

I have a very good reason for having Apiphobia, though. When I was about twelve years old, I was attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets and stung several hundred times, head to toe. Thankfully, I wasn't allergic and, as far as I know, I'm still not. But with that many stings, I blew up like a red balloon and was in extreme pain for days. Then, when the pain subsided, I was one massive itch.

Not two weeks later, I was stung up the back of both legs by hornets.

Needless to say, when I hear a buzz, be it one fuzzy bumble bee (harmless, so they say) or a hive full of bees, hornets, wasps or yellow jackets, I break out into a cold sweat. I know they have their place in the world, but just keep those nasty stinging things away from me!

More information on Apiphobia

Are You Afraid of Bees?

How afraid are you?

See results

Facing our Fears

Facing our Fears
Facing our Fears

A Guide to Coping with Fear and Anxiety

Written by a doctor who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders, this book includes step-by-step exercises you can do "in the moment without having to understand the subtleties of the most often used therapies for treating anxiety."

Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear & Worry
Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear & Worry
The book is available in both paperback and on Kindle

Do You Face Your Fears Or Avoid Them?

When you're afraid of something, do you tend to make yourself face it head on, or do you avoid it at all costs?

I try to confront my fears.

anonymous: I have many fears,ranging from the more practical,like spiders (help me please) ,the dark,being in a terrible much more hard to explain fears,like the unknown,not.bring prettyor thin enough and having people laugh at me,the reasons people do horrible hurtful things,and again,the dark... I say the dark twice because its been a long - time fear,u never know what's there,and I don't want to know. Thus may sound childish,but its truly nearly paralyzing at a child I couldn't sleep alone (slept with my grandma,my grandparents raised me) and even though I knew she was there...I don't know. It got worse when I suffered from sleep paralysis around the age of nine... I recall this so clearly...not being able to move,trying to speak... Anyway I'm nearly 29 and the fear remains. I make my boyfriend sleep with the tv on and panic if its off if I happen to wake to use the restroom and its not on...he's really good about it though. I also suffer from anxiety,have,again,since childhood,but it is manageable through my therapist and medication. I'm just a normal girl... You wouldn't think it to see me,but I am actually very afraid a lot of the time... I put on a good "brave" face. Its been good to post this here...the sun just came up,my favorite time of day,and I will be okay today... Thank you to all that read this and may or may not understand. I know it may sound silly... Crystalina

rollie64: I try to face every one, head on.

Michelle Hogan: I felt fear once, when I saw a woman being beaten. I am ashamed to say I did nothing. Over thirty-five years later, I can say that since then, I have never since stood by when anyone was the object of physical or mental or psychological violence. It took me some time to understand the meaning of that old saying, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." But, it is so true. THIS is what fear truly is; False Evidence Appearing Real There are reasonable fears and unreasonable ones. With the unreasonable ones, we must show our brain that they are unreasonable and why. When the brain accepts the logic, there is no fear any longer. For the reasonable fears, they exist to keep us alive. Many will state, "Trust your gut feeling." For the most part, I agree. The fears given here are seen as both reasonable and unreasonable. The story told about walking down a path in the Grand Canyon, and freezing, is an unreasonable fear. If there were a boulder racing toward you or a landslide or something about to push you over the brink, yes, it becomes a reasonable fear, but one that should enlist the fight or flight response. Trying to exist without addressing your fears will reduce the beauty and enjoyment of your life. If you wish to live a true life, in freedom, you must address anything that limits that dream, or any other.

maryseena: If it is irrational fear, I try to confront it.

lauramcclymont: i try confront them but it doesn't always work, but then again running away doesn't help much either!

sasenka: I confront my fears but it does not help me a lot.

listprofits: face it...

hmommers: I don't succeed all the time, but I do try to confront my fears. :) Great subject. And nice with all the polls in it too

SmokeybonesJr: LOL great Lens :-)

Titia Geertman: I face my fears. I'm afraid of heights, but I do climb the ladder if I have to, it only better not move an inch. I once painted the chimney of our house and didn't dare to climb down again. My hubby and kis left me sitting there for a long time before they helped me down. As long as it is steady, I climb on everything, but when it moves a little, I'm lost.

Vicki Green: I do a little of both. I try to confront my fears, but that doesn't mean I'll go out of my way to confront them every day. Some days I like to relax and stay with things within my comfort zone.

resabi: It depends on the fear. If it is something that affects how I'd function in daily life I'll force myself to face it. Sometimes I'm more successful than others at actually accomplishing it. Don't sign me up for tidal waves, though, or other water disasters. I can't even watch Titanic!

anonymous: well im afraid of a lot of things and i don't face i cry in fear and sorrow.then i face them i feel brave but scared to go to the desert.and even look at a snake.what i do is i look in my eyes in the mirror and say you don't scare me.i hope i help.

anonymous: Face my fears? Piece of cake!!!! Love going out and letting myself try to not be afraid of doing it. That's what makes me pure outdoorze kind of gal! I love going out camping and watching a lightning storm for example. HaHa!

Renaissance Woman: I do face my fears. For instance, though I feel as you do about being alone at night in the wild, I have gone solo camping when necessary. And, feeling as you do about exposure, hasn't kept me from hiking in high places.

InfernalCombust: Definitely. I get a real kick out of facing my fears.

Michey LM: I try to control, sometime with success, other times without... but at lease I try. I like your picture "facing our Fears"

anonymous: You must face your fears, but I know first hand, this is hard to do. If you do not face your fears, avoidance only makes them stronger....this is the paradox of fear and for that matter, thought avoidance. the more you avoid, the stronger the thought or fear becomes. The way the brain works is very simple, 'what you are not willing to have, you will'.

Stephanie Tietjen: My strongest tendency has been to face fear head on. But when my confidence is down to loss or to life events, I sometimes regress to the place of fear.

fenz28 lm: Im scared of heights, but Im planning to go sky diving. Crazy? Yes. But I have to..

Tolovaj Publishing House: Face your fear, do not be its prisoner!

yourgoldenfuture: i confront them...most just disappear

anonymous: i try to do my best to face them but for whatever reason i can't face them then i try to avoid them...

anonymous: Sometimes I face my fears and sometimes I avoid them.

Laurel Johnson: I face my fears and live with them because avoidance never seemed to work for me.

irenemaria: The older I get the more scary situations I have lived through. And I am still here! I am still scared of evil men thou....

Spook LM: That's if my jelly legs can still stand it.

NC Shepherd: I try to go ahead through my fears. And look what it's gotten me.....lots of experiences, and not much else.

HorseAndPony LM: I face them. I think some of my fears are exciting and some are silly.

winstngwaf: First of stupidly i look for ways arround it but if that makes it harder i take it by the bulls

WindyWintersHubs: Usually. I get a little light-headed when I'm up too high. My family are adventure seekers and sometimes I have to tell But I try and be a good sport!

Bambi Watson: As an admitted control freak...I try to overcome my fears, I loathe feeling helpless, so I face my fears head on.

If I'm afraid of something, I don't want anything to do with it.

penmypage: Most of the time, i prefer to avoid it unless i want to scare myself real bad...

Deborah Swain: Unless it makes my life totally impractical, I tend to avoid things that scare me terribly. And I've made my peace with that...I'm scared of flying but will make short journeys back to the UK, I'm determined to make a longer trip some day and visit more of the world!

Sheila: I had a paralyzing phobia for several years of flying insects that stung. I was unable to be outdoors, period. Once I figured out what the problem was, with a little help, the phobia vanished. Poof! Now I spend half my life outside. I like that acronym, FEAR, "False Evidence Appearing Real."

anonymous: I really don't like dark quiet areas, it really freaks me out.

Lorelei Cohen: I avoid my fears completely totally and without a shade of remorse. I figure if I am afraid of something then I probably have a very good reason to feel that way so I better do what my instincts tell me to do. I hate feeling scared.

Peggy Hazelwood: I avoid things I'm afraid of. I figure if you're truly afraid, why make yourself suffer?

Bernie: avoid it

anonymous: I avoid them at all costs. If that means having what others call "a boring life", so be it. It's better to be safe than sorry.

anonymous: Im Afraid of the dark since I was 6 and I want to face my fear once and for all. But I don't know how to face it can anyone help me get over my fear of the dark.

Othercatt: Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! lol My big phobias (germs and the dark) are never challenged. I just try to live my life around them. The smaller fears I don't mind facing.

anonymous: If i had to face a tiny spider, i wud die

anonymous: Unfortunately I try to avoid fears at all costs, which is not the way to go.

Nathalie Roy: I avoid or squash them (the spiders!)

Virginia Allain: I'm more likely to just stay away from it. Sigh... I wish I were more the other way.

Kitsune64: Depends on my fear, but the major ones, I'll avoid as much as I can. Like the bees and wasps. I'll stick with avoidance for that one, thanks!

justholidays: Er.. yes, I tend to run away in the opposite direction :D

daoine lm: A bit of both, but mostly I tend to avoid the things I fear.

Cheryl Kohan: Get it away from me!

Cynthia Sylvestermouse: Run the other way as fast as I can!

A Well-Liked Guide for Kids (and Parents) on Dealing with Anxiety and Fear

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What-to-Do Guides for Kids Series)
What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What-to-Do Guides for Kids Series)
This is a popular, interactive self-help book for kids to help them--and to help parents and teachers help them--deal with and even overcome their worries. It's aim is to educate, motivate and empower, and the vast majority of readers and reviewers feel it accomplishes those goals extremely well.

Want To Know The Formal Names Of Fears?

Check out this huge Phobia List

Or you can look up the phobia name by the fear on the Reverse Phobia List

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Deb Kingsbury


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