More than once, people have asked me what my biggest fear is.
I've given this a tremendous amount of thought as I've gone about the business of living. Always, in the back of my mind is, "Am I afraid of this?" and "Should I be afraid of this?" and "Why am I not afraid of this?"
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Just to be clear, these are the most common symptoms of fear (which are milder than the symptoms of phobias, because we're not talking phobias, just fears):
Feeling anxiousPhobia symptoms are much stronger, often paralyzing, so we aren't going to mention phobias, just fears.
Getting a butterfly feeling in your stomach
Being nervous upon encountering or experiencing the thing you fear
Feeling queasy or slightly nauseous
Toddlers have different fears from adults. Their fears are more concrete, and often outgrown.
DarkIn literature, the top fears are different than they are in real life. I'm not sure why. Real life adults fears can provide very gripping plots for stories. Karen Thompson Walker, in a TED Talk, discusses the fears most written about. Those fears are:
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DeathWhat are people really afraid of? It really depends on where you look. The lists vary. Most are concerned with phobias - extreme fears. I was interested in just ordinary, everyday frissons, little fears, the things that cause people to pause before they go on.
Avoiding death for the wrong reasons
Hunger or other severe physical deprivations
Illness and/or aging
Law, or more specifically, lawyers
That life doesn't resemble fiction/literature
The Self Help Collective considers these to be the most common fears:
FlyingListverse lists these as the top 10 fears:
Loosing your freedom/being imprisonedDeath and rejection are on all three lists, so we can surmise those 2 fears are fairly common. The two non-literary lists also share failure as a fear. But after that, it seems to be quite a mix of fears.
I'm kind of fascinated by what authors most commonly write about. Are these fears more common among authors - or are they the fears that sell the best, the fears that evoke the strongest images?
I've also spent a lot of time wondering what my fears are. I have a lot of cautions - like driving on ice. I'm not afraid to drive on ice, I simply hate doing it.
Living in Oklahoma, where we have so many small earthquakes, like the one last week that pulled this strut from the ceiling in my office, I haven't really developed a fear of earthquakes. I know they can be bad, but I think I take a fatalistic view - by the time the earth is shaking, it's too late to do much except wait it out. There is no warning system for earthquakes like we have for hurricanes and tornadoes.
Perhaps it's because I prepare for all the things I might have been afraid of and have plans in place to deal with them if they arise that I have so few fears. Maybe, if I encounter something I am afraid of, I'll do like Xoco and find a cozy place to hide.
What do you think of these lists of fears?
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