The Only Thing We Have to Fear . . . .

An online newspaper recently published an article on the fear of flying. As an accompaniment, they did a blog asking people to state their greatest fear.

Now, I'm not going to ask anyone to answer that – it's a rather personal question – but I thought some of the response were interesting, and you might find that your thoughts aren't all that different from anyone else's.

Many of the usual phobias were mentioned – fear of flying, of bridges and tunnels (I'm in this group and was long before 9/11, but I can't say it's my biggest fear), elevators (or other enclosed/tight spaces) or getting stuck on/in the same, fear of seeing the doctor (interestingly, although numerous people spoke about being afraid of tooth pain, no one mentioned fear of seeing the dentist), fear of swimming, fear of heights, fear of injections, fear of insects, fear of public speaking, fear of snakes, OB/GYN exams, pregnancy and childbirth. There were a few surprises: I was surprised at the number of people who cited driving . . . and clowns. (Clowns? There are adults who are actually afraid of Bozo?)

Health and aging concerns appeared frequently. People cited outliving their money/poverty, becoming disabled, losing their homes, losing their teeth, developing cancer or Alzheimer's, losing their independence, losing their eyesight, losing mobility, losing their spouses.

Some people went for humor, as the man who declared his biggest fear was "Hillary Clinton" (but then again, maybe he wasn't kidding.) "My mother-in-law coming to live with us," said a woman. One man said he didn't fear flying so much as the thought of a "400-pound behemoth" sitting next to him on a lenghty international flight. Someone else, perhaps a resident of California, named their biggest fear as "driving in the same state as Lindsay Lohan." The man who said he feared OB/GYN exams (yes, the man.) "Reading this blog and seeing the one fear I haven't thought of yet," someone else pointed out.

I saw a great deal of poignant concerns. "That something will happen to my only child," a woman wrote. A man wrote of fearing drunk drivers and the safety of his surviving daughter after one killed his other daughter. One woman said her fear of giving birth is so strong she never had children. Many people spoke of their fear of being incapacitated, poor, and alone in their senior years, relegated to nursing homes and being forgotten. Several women feared they would become proverbial "old maids" and never get to experience marriage and children. One person said they feared working in high-rise buildings, understandable after 9/11.

Financial concerns ranked high. People feared losing their jobs and everything they worked for as a result, not saving enough for retirement, that catastrophic illness will bankrupt them, or that their chosen field of work will become irrelevant, leaving them with no way to make a living.

Others have clearly been influenced by horror movies, like the people who fear being buried alive or falling and becoming impaled on something on the way down. To the person who has nightmares about dirty public toilets, I can only say that they've probably seen the Saw movies (seen the saw . . . get it?) For the person who said "Dolls coming to life and terrorizing me," I say, "No more Chucky movies for you!"

Religion came up in a few responses. One brave soul said, 'I fear nothing because Jesus has changed my life." Brave, yes, but I question his honesty. Another said, "I don't necessarily believe in God, but I fear Him." A little contradictory, if you ask me.

Finally, there's the woman who said, "I felt fine until I started reading this list. Now I'm jumping all over the place."

That's a good place to end.


Patricia W. said...

Fear is a strange thing. It can strangle the owner. I don't remember who but didn't someone famous say something along the lines of "We have nothing to fear but fear itself"? I have a few phobias but I fight against having fear (or at least being ruled by it) everyday.

bettye griffin said...

That was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who said that (I paraphrased it for the title of this entry) when he was elected in the early years of the Depression.

Good for you. I agree that fear can be paralyzing. Fortunately, I think most of the people who responded to this survey did have theirs under control. The ones with the nightmares probably could use some help.


Donna D said...

I have similar fears about my son's future and health and financial issues. But none of those things are stopping me from living my life. I know that God holds our future and with Him, all things are possible. I only have today and if I see tomorrow, then I'll deal with tomorrow then.

bettye griffin said...

I do sympathize with people who've actually lived through awful experiences (the man who lost his daughter to a drunk driver, the people who worked in the Twin Towers who now fear tall buildings, people involved in serious auto accidents learning to cope with fear of driving again.) On the other hand, the "what if" factor shouldn't be so strong that it limits one's enjoyment of life.