Fear Itself


I read somewhere that people with anxiety have brains that can’t distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate danger. It said that we can’t judge whether a situation will actually be harmful and we react to safe circumstances as if they were deadly. Well, I’m pretty sure the person who wrote that study will be kidnapped by a stranger in a windowless van as they happily stroll through life worry-free. But I won’t, because I’m mentally and physically prepared for that.

I’m well aware I have an extremely active amygdala. Sometimes it’s frustrating that my brain makes me extra awkward in crowded spaces or in the face of a seemingly simple decision, but usually I say thank you to it for keeping me safe and prepped for the dangers of life. To be honest, I think people who walk around without at least a moderate amount of anxiety are just naive.

To help educate those delusional folks, I’ve compiled a list of things that stress me out—each of which I’ve been told are irrational by someone who doesn’t understand reality. Here they are:

  1. Peeling potatoes or any other round items. That is a shape that just isn’t meant to be peeled. Your hands will inevitably get in the way and then you’ll be one finger down. And you can kiss your dreams of playing piano in Carnegie Hall goodbye. All because you had to peel that damn potato.
  2. Walking next to a railing in a mall. Obviously, when you’re walking by the railing, you will lose all control of your body and will fling yourself over the edge to your untimely death.
  3. Standing in lines. Because where are you going? You may think you’re headed to buy a movie ticket, but who really knows what’s at the end of that line? And what if people panic once they discover they’re actually in line to be force-fed crickets and stampede toward the exit behind you? Also, your legs will get tired.
  4. Eating a treat cut in a perfect square. Any real baker won’t waste his time slicing dessert into geometrically flawless shapes. Only a sociopath trying to distract you from the fact that the cake is actually poisoned would go through that effort.
  5. Writing a list with an even number of items. Because that’s just unnatural and everything will be off balance.

So, you’re welcome. Now you have five more things to worry about every day. Unless you already have these on your list of stressors. If so, I tip my hat to you, my thoughtful friend.

3 thoughts on “Fear Itself

  1. turns out, there is a whole website for this. http://www.anxietyzone.com/ it made me think of laser zone, but something tells me the people on this site are afraid of accidentally getting a laser to the eye and going blind. on second though, just the forum headings of that website are stressing me out. i should really delete that link…

  2. I am pretty certain that the second example you listed there must have at least been influenced by watching Clueless as a child…

    1. I definitely suffered from some minor PTSD after watching Tai be accosted by those teenage boys, but that’s because I already had a really healthy fear of mall railings instilled by my mother.

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