A List of Things That Scare Me

Now you’ll be comforted to know the following do not scare me: fire (I’m a bit of a pyro—I mean candle lover, and maybe I lit my hair on fire once. Whoops?); zombies; bumble bees (They’re not the same as wasps. Screw wasps); heights; roller coasters; dementors; spiders and tarantulas (to the point where I’ve played with the latter); and caves and all the bats and small spaces inside of caves. Bats are great.

I digress.

Sewing machines

My grandmother is a seamstress. My mother is a seamstress. It seemed only fitting that I would follow in their footsteps and also become a seamstress. No such luck. My mother did try, of course. Maybe she should have waited a few more years, I was a tiny lass when I was first introduced to the giant needle hopper of finger death.

Then again, I was mesmerized even before she tried to teach me; I often watched my mother sew. I was completely fascinated by how she transformed soft malleable fabric into beautiful dresses for my sister and I, scrubs for work (she’s a nurse), and endless incredible costumes for Halloween; I’ll never forget the purple princess gown, or the cool snow leopard jumpsuit she made for me, glow in the dark claws included.

But as badly as I wanted to be like her and create really cool shit, I was horrified by the needle that stabbed the fabric and wove it together. The machine was loud. Very loud, and very old. Chug chug chug, stab stab stab, and my mother inched her fingers closer to it…

Nope. No. No way, no thank you. I want my fingers in tact.

“It’s not going to stab you, it’s built not to,” my mother would reassure me during every teaching-attempt.

“It might,” I insisted, “it might.”


I didn’t realize I had irrational fears for a long time. People would ask me if I had any during small talk, and I’d always shrug and scratch my head. I’m not afraid of spiders; if I see one in the house, I set it free.

An underpass or an overpass is my bug equivalent. The odds one of these are actually going to hurt me is slim to none. Still, I hold my breath whenever I have to go over or under one of them.

Austin, Texas has ones so high they’re held up by pillars. I visited there in 2011 with some friends, and the noises I made as we drove up the long slim ramp up into the sky were akin to when you release all the air in a balloon and it makes that loud whistling. If you share this fear, never ever EVER visit that city.

The Kitchen

That’s an exaggeration, but I am afraid of many things found within most kitchens. In fact, it’s the reason I don’t cook or bake very often. Sharp knife going to chop off my fingers? No thanks. Hot oven that might burn my fingers or hands? N-ope. I legit toss the pans of pizza and french fries into the oven in order to avoid having to touch said oven. When it comes to knives, I use the dullest one possible even if it makes life harder (which is probably more dangerous anyways?). Whatever, my hands are not dealing with that.

I’m starting to see a theme here…

Hair Curlers/Straighteners

The knife and the oven had a baby, the end.


More like driving. Every time I get into a car I have to give myself a worthless pep-talk about how it will be fine, I won’t get into a car accident and die. The reality is I’m more likely to get into a car crash than die from some horrible diseases, but I don’t spend my time fretting over those.

Funny thing is, I’ve never been in a crash that caused any bodily injury to myself or anyone else. I’ve gotten rear ended and been in a few fender benders, but nothing that would initiate this horrible fear I have.

So where did it come from? It didn’t start until I started Drivers Ed. Maybe it was the pressure of the class—I was a good student but I wasn’t a very good driver. Or maybe it was the fact that my teacher who yelled and screamed at me until I was a puddle of tears and utterly traumatized (take a breath, here) was later arrested for having sex with a student, and I was picking up on his predator-vibes. (Don’t worry, my mom shut that shit down and I was assigned a new teacher. Thanks, mom!)

I digress—I’m not too sure where the fear comes from but now a very ordinary task, driving, something I and nearly every citizen of the United States does every day to get to and from work, is one hell of a challenge for me.


Flying balls were my worst enemy in gym class. Every time one zoomed at me I shied away from it and lowered my status on the popularity ladder one more rank.

Irony would dictate that in my junior year of highschool I signed up for ultimate sports. I wasn’t very good at any of them except one, Ultimate Frisbee. We played it rain or shine and even in the snow—I loved it.

Of course, once I started getting good at it the school’s star basketball player, a tank of an individual who wouldn’t hurt a fly, threw the frisbee at me and my face caught it. There was so much blood the school nurse was adamant that he must have done this on purpose.

And that’s how Frisbees got added to the list, too.

Cotton Balls

Yes, cotton balls. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m scared, exactly; I have had sensory motor issues ever since I was very little. My mom had to put my socks on me three times everyday before they felt okay. I wasn’t some shitty kid, either, throwing a fit because I had to wear socks, the socks hurt.

Luckily, I went through a lot of physical therapy. I’m much better now, but cotton balls still get me. Specifically, cotton balls inside of pill jars. As soon as I open the bottle and see that fluffy nonsense, I get stressed. The feeling of pulling the cotton out nearly makes me have a conniption. Thank goodness for tweezers, huh? But let’s be real: just the notion makes the hair on the back of my neck rise. The anticipation of will there be cotton inside this new bottle of medication is nearly as bad as opening it up and seeing yes, yes there is, and now you have to DEAL WITH IT.


This one isn’t mine, but I had to share it. I once had a friend who was utterly and completely afraid of penguins. She couldn’t even stand the image of them on the TV. When I told her my brother and sister love penguins—they’re their favorite animal, she looked at me like the entire family must be secretly diseased with an unholy affliction.

I bought her a little baby-penguin plush at the Chicago Aquarium to try and help her get over the fear, but I’m not sure if she ever really got over it. Also, we’re not friends anymore. Oops?

And that’s that. That’s all the ridiculous, or maybe not so ridiculous, stuff that keeps me up at night. I’d count sheep, but that whole bit with the cotton makes it tough. Alas.

Mikayla Matz1 Comment