Last week, in honour of Halloween, I was going to write a post on fears—my fears, specifically. And then, you know, Rob Ford happened, and washed that idea away in a huge tide of crazy. But I still think it's a good idea to examine what makes one afraid, and anyway, maybe the darkening days of November are better suited to being afraid than Halloween's more festive jump-scares. Who's ready to take a plunge into the inky side of the psyche?
I'm afraid of never being alone again. People usually say they're afraid of being alone, and I know from experience that too much time spent by myself isn't good for me. I like my time, though. And as my relationship deepens and we start talking about having a family someday, my personal Klaxons start blaring: trading in huge chunks of me-time in exchange for snippets of solo time wigs me out. Louis CK does this great bit about little vacations from his kids—not, like Caribbean cruises or anything; no, his "vacations" are the seconds it takes him to walk to the driver's side door after buckling his kids in the backseat of the car. That's scary.
I'm afraid of job interviews. God, there's something about the banality of evil on that one, eh? "Come, in your finery, to sit in this windowless room with a jug of flat-tasting water to answer questions about how you handle conflict!" I sweat. I get light-headed. I become supremely self-conscious. It takes all my white-knuckled energy not to flee the room. The only good part is the rush of endorphins that flood through me after I walk back out into the sunlight. I. Fear. Them.
I'm afraid of spiders, deep space, and deep water. As all good humans should be.
I'm afraid of my parents dying. I've been hounding them for the last year to update their will, and they keep accusing me of being macabre. I'm not. I just want them to never die; having a solid will feels like they'd be taking care of me from the great beyond. It's childish, I know. I can't help it. The thought of being without them makes me breathless with sorrow.
I'm afraid of getting fat. Ugh, I know, I know. After a lifetime of grappling with my weight, and a decade-plus of living with an eating disorder, I went to treatment and got better. Still, I'm not at a yogurt-commercial level of joy with my body, and I suspect I will fight my entire life to not ascribe negative value to my double chin/upper arms/rubbing thighs. And yet, it's impossible to let go of the death grip this particular fear has. I check myself out in every mirror I pass, and am constantly calculating what needs to be hidden, what needs to be flaunted, and what can only be despaired over. Jesus, how tedious. Thank god I got rid of my scale, or who knows how crazy I would get?
I'm afraid of having kids. Jeez, there's just so much that can go wrong! From the moment of conception to, basically, forever; I'm afraid that I'm going to leave some sort of toxic imprint on them, pass them a variation of my illnesses, damages, and flaws. I'm afraid I'm going to miscarry at a family reunion. I'm afraid I'm going to sleep through their midnight cries. I'm afraid I'm going to back over them in the driveway, or forget them in their car seat on a hot summer's day. I'm afraid the dog is going to lick them to death, or I'm going to drop them on a stone patio, or they're going to develop an eating disorder or start drinking when they're twelve or slice their arms open to feel their feelings. I'm afraid of nut allergies, of creepy neighbours, of falling down the escalator at the mall. Oh my god, how does anyone ever live through having a kid?
I'm afraid of never having kids, or never getting married, or owning a house. I'm afraid I'm going to stay in perpetual 29-year-old limbo for eternity, my favourite black tank tops and miniskirts rotting around me. Even as I examine my life for what I need (maybe a good mutual fund portfolio is a better financial path than a house in Toronto? Maybe marriage sounds wicked but gala weddings leave me cold?), I'm afraid that somehow, I'll wake up one day to discover all my eggs have gone rotten, I still live above a bar, and my relationship has turned into the one my upstairs neighbours have—they seems to communicate primarily through name-calling and blasting pointed Fleetwood Mac songs. Shudder.
I'm afraid that I'm actually not a very good writer. That all the work I've put into writing this blog, and writing fiction, and writing interviews, will have been for naught. There will always be writers who are much, much better than me—I'm not afraid of knowing that. I'm afraid of being one of the actively bad ones. I'm afraid of being boring. Or worse, of being trite. I can't imagine a worse fate that of the middling creative type with aspirations of grandeur.