Why I’m more afraid of spreadsheets than shrieking subway guys, and other ruminations on the illogic of fear

If becoming hyperaware of my own fears in the hopes of smiting them has taught me anything, it’s this: We humans are afraid of some pretty bizarre and random things. A cabinet of curiosities, one for each of us.

We're all frightened by an oddball array of things.
We’re all frightened by an oddball array of things.

Take the act of speaking your mind in front of hundreds of strangers. That sounds scary, but for my 13-year-old daughter, it’s a walk in the park compared to the prospect of being near (and by near, I mean in the same zip code) as a construction crane. And that’s such an unusual fear that it’s not even on those lists of 101 weird phobias that Buzzfeed or whoever posts almost every other week. So I thought I’d document a number of things that frightened me over the last 10 days or so, listed here in order of scariness from 10 (Why does Voldemort want to kill me?!) to 1 (Huh, why do I have a rash there?).

AAAHHH! I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO MAKE SPREADSHEETS.

Office work=scary
Office work=scary

This has never mattered before in my professional life. Alas, my new job requires dealing with what feels like approximately 18,000 spreadsheets. The other day, wrestling with the fonts on Google Sheets sent me into a rage spiral. Just when I thought nothing could make me wistful for PowerPoint…
Freakout factor: 7.

OK, my son eats sugar. It could be worse.
OK, my son eats sugar. It could be worse.

AAAHHH! I LET MY SON EAT TOO MUCH SUGAR AND HE’S GOING TO GET DIABETES.
This is exactly the kind of thing that crosses my mind as I’m in line at the Able Baker, waiting to pay for chocolate chip scones the size of my face. But then it occurs to me that if I don’t get the boy a scone, I can’t really in good conscience get one for myself either. And I comfort myself with the thought that I made him eat grape tomatoes with his lunch.
Freakout factor: 2.

AAAHHH! THERE IS A FINGERNAIL IN MY CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD.
First, I should note: There was no fingernail in my chicken Caesar salad. But once that idea got into my head, lunch became hopeless. I spent a half-hour glaring at my salad, then decided the only logical thing to do was to turn to my bag of chocolate-covered almonds for comfort.
Freakout factor: 7.

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See? Someone’s random hair landed on her face, too.

AAAHHH! A GUY ON THE SUBWAY STARTS SINGING HOW HE WANTS TO MURDER ALL THE TOURISTS.
This normally wouldn’t even have fazed me. There is always a guy playing music on the subway, though usually it’s some pan flute version of El Condor Pasa. And who doesn’t want to murder all the tourists? But this fellow was loads creepier, maybe because he plinked out his little ditty with one hand on a toy piano, which gave the whole thing a Child’s Play horror movie feel to it. It made me sufficiently uncomfortable that I moved down the subway car to stand willingly next to the man eating a meatball sub at 8:45 AM, which is not a choice I’d make in my right mind.
Freakout factor: 5.

AAAHHH! I SEE A CURLY HAIR IN THE POOL AND DECIDE IT IS GOING TO END UP ON MY FACE.
[swimming] Oh Jesus, what is that? OK, it’s curly. Is that a pubic hair? No, no, no, it’s too long. Well, maybe it is. Do people have longish pubic hair? Eww, is it on my face? [stops swimming] No, don’t be ridiculous. [swimming] Wait, it’s on my face now! [stops swimming] Honestly! [swimming] And it’s not pubic hair! [swims past unidentifiable viscous mass, likely from the nasal passages of a child] OK, that fucking hair is ON MY FACE. [rubs entire face] Is it time to get out? I think it’s time to get out.
Freakout factor: 9.5.

What bizarro thing freaks you out?
Share it with me at noelle@myfearlessyear.com [anonymously is fine!] and I’ll share it in an upcoming blog post.