Fear, such a small word but with huge effects. Fear of the unknown, fear of the dark, fear of failure. The verb translates as to be afraid of someone or something as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful. But what about the unfounded fears? The untypical fears. Some people are afraid of tomato sauce, for example, others find their hearts racing at the sight of cotton wool. Harmless objects that seem neither painful, harmful, or dangerous. Do you ever wonder why some fears are so ingrained, what historical event was so traumatic that your body has now created a physical alarm system that triggers your flight response?
Take me for example: To coin a phrase, I consider myself to be a “double hard bastard”; I tackle spiders like a boss. I don’t even need a cup, I just pick them up and put them outside as gently and kindly as I can. If it’s raining I might even let them stay a while longer. Rats? I laugh in the face of rats. Well, not quite, I actually like to kiss their little twitching noses. I have kept pet rats and love the feel of their rough-textured tail between my lip (a dangerous pass time as they share an equal appreciation, except it triggers them to wee). Snakes? Whilst I don’t want to have one as a pet, I hold no fear of them.
So here I am strolling through life with no apparent fear, like a superhero. Except I do have a fear. I have my very own kryptonite. Worst of all, I have no grounds for it. I have no idea why or how I came to be afraid, but I am. I mean full on goosebumps, shallow breath, heart-racing fear. I am putting it out there and fessing up. I am a naviphobe (from the Latin for ship) a fear of boats and cruise ships. I am equally afraid of those in dry dock of water. Okay, I hear you say, but as fears go, it’s a rare one. I mean, you are not often faced with a ship, right? Except I attend the University of Greenwich. After McDonald’s the next thing you see on leaving the station is…that’s right, the Cutty Sark! A big bastard ship flaunting itself in front of me like a cruel taunt saved especially for me. Unfounded, I know, but terrifying all the same. I have no idea why this became my fear, I have no childhood memories of being by a boat whilst feeling unwell for example. No recollection of a horror film, where a ship crushed a small family of puppies. Seemingly completely random. My question is what are you afraid of? And more importantly, do you know why?
By Julie Sanford
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