Irrational Fears



I have lots of legitimate fears, some typical ones, and some completely irrational ones.

I am not afraid of spiders or snakes or mice or clowns or needles.

My worst fears are that terrible things will happen to my loved ones.

My typical fears are things like merging into speeding traffic across multiple lanes, or getting stuck in an elevator.

And then there are my irrational fears. Whenever I walk to my car holding my car keys, I’m afraid I will drop them down a storm drain. Weirder still, when I pass a mail box, I am afraid I will accidentally drop my keys into it and not be able to retrieve them. Why am I so hung up on losing my keys?

I have heard of people who won’t walk over a bridge because they’re afraid they will jump off.



For many years I hated the thought of anyone hearing me in a public washroom, but I am (mostly) over that.

I am afraid of getting stuck for days in a public place with thousands of other people, like an airport (with all flights out cancelled) or an evacuation centre. I need to spend a good amount of time each day away from other people – or away from “the public” at least – so being stuck in the midst of a mass of humanity scares me silly!

I have an irrational fear of being taken hostage and being tortured. I can’t stand the idea of being helpless and at the mercy of someone cruel. Since I don’t travel to dangerous locales and I don’t have any cash value as a hostage, I reckon I’m safe!

I don’t spend any time obsessing over these things, but once in a while I get a little “jolt” as one of them comes to mind.

Photo: forums.

Photo: forums.

I am fortunate that I live in a place where rights and freedoms are respected, no matter how much I might joke to the contrary.

What are your irrational fears?


  1. Dropping things (namely my phone when it’s in my back pocket) in the toliet. For this reason, the toilet lid MUST be down. I didn’t used to care, but now I’ll pick the Sydney Harbour Bridge over the tunnel, cause I am scared of being stuck in the tunnel (and everyone always drives slow in tunnels, esp that one!)

    I don’t moths much – not cause of the flying, I’m scared they’ll eat my winter jumpers! I’m trying to think of all the other ‘fears’ the BF laughs at… Like the smelly dish sponge (it must be squeezed out and left to dry, or it’ll get microwaved to try and redeem it from horrible smell-dom). Likewise damp towels/clothes – just NOT ok, will be rewashed pronto. And the one fear I always tell people about – swimming with fish!

    • I am not wild about driving through tunnels either. Swimming with fish…have you ever done it? I grew up next to a lake and I’m sure I swam with baby fish lots of times – but I was afraid of leeches, eww!!

      • Yeah see I used to swim and snorkle with fish, but then didn’t for a while, and when I next did, it freaked me RIGHT out!! I’m ok with fish smaller than a finger, anything bigger and I shriek!

  2. What is it about keys that brings us all out in a sweat – Don’t mention front door keys as they rate quite highly on my worry list lol
    I wont click my key holder to open the car until I’m actually there at the car – have this thing about others watching me make my way across the car park (especially an underground one) and being there at the car waiting for me. Until quite recently keys being locked in the car was one of my fears and also like you I have this thing about keys and storm drains expecially the ones that have grates – won’t park anywhere near one. And having posted a credit card once I make sure nothing else is in my hand on the rare occasion I post anything 🙂

    • So I am not the only one who thinks of these things! I must have a primal fear of either being stranded somewhere (without car keys) or having a nice warm house waiting for me and not being able to get into it!

  3. I am terrified of rats and mice! I think I get it from my dad, who also doesn’t like them. I don’t even like them on TV, or even the toy rat my ex had. I went and saw the movie Ratatouille at the cinema to try and get over my fear, and there was a real mouse running around the cinema (it was fairly run-down). Needless to say, it didn’t help!

    Weirdly enough, I’m fine with dissecting them after they are dead (I used to teach a course where first year students did that), I just don’t like them scurrying around anywhere near me!

    • I went to Disney World once and they had a movie with “sensory effects.” One of them was a mouse crawling on you. And to think I paid for that entertainment! I actually think pet rats are cute but I won’t put up bird feeders in my yard because I’m afraid the bird seed will attract rats.

  4. Thank you, Dar! FYI, an excellent saving grace when marooned with many strangers (says the needs solitary regularly and poor luck long distance and so has been stuck in huge airports fir days): always carry a completely gripping and very fat book! The people will still be there but you can get away from them.

    • I know you speak from experience! And you would know that a print book is necessary after all the batteries drain on all the devices. Nevertheless, I have decided that my travel and emergency kit needs noise-cancelling headphones!

  5. I don’t like rodents of any kind. Mice, gerbils, squirrels, hamsters etc all get a no go from me. Surprisingly I watched Ratatouille without any issues. My problem with that movie was at the end of the airing on TV they discussed “interesting” rat facts. One of which is swimming long lengths without taking a breath and coming up in people’s toilets. Needless to say night time bathroom trips were not fun for some time.

  6. EcoCatLady

    I have plenty of irrational fears… and the funny thing is that I can trace many of them all the way back to the careless comment made by some adult during my youth that I completely took the wrong way. When I was a kid it was during the cold war, and I was scared to death of the nuclear holocaust. One time my mother, trying to soothe my fears, told me that she was sure that the federal government complex near our home was a nuclear target, so I needn’t worry because we’d be wiped out instantaneously. Somehow, this was not exactly comforting to an 8 year old, and thus began my irrational fear of the Federal Center! Seriously on September 11th, my very first thought was “OMG – am I within the nuclear blast radius of the Federal Center?!?” It still gives me the creeps do drive past that place!

    Then one time we had the hot water heater replaced and the repair man made some off-hand comment that it was a good thing we did it when we did because it was “about to go.” Now at the time, there had been a very publicized incident of a man who blew himself and his entire house up trying to light a faulty hot water heater pilot light – so my young brain put two and two together and came up with 6 million! I was just sure that the repair man meant that the thing was about to explode. Many years later I figured out that he meant the bottom was about to rust out… but I still get queasy walking past the thing in my basement!

    And then there’s the “bad guys breaking in” fear. This one dates back to the time when I was about 7 and heard on the news that an entire family had been murdered in their sleep by an “ax murderer”. I’ve worked REALLY hard to banish this one, but still sometimes when I hear a noise in the middle of the night I freak out. Anyhow, lately I’ve been keeping the cats out of my bedroom so I can get some sleep, and one of them isn’t terribly happy about it. So the other night I’m sound asleep when suddenly I hear someone jiggling the bedroom door knob. I leaped out of bed just convinced that the ax murder was coming to get me. Of course it didn’t dawn on me that my bedroom door doesn’t actually have a lock on it, so if it had been a person they would have just opened it. So, in my somnolent stupor, I started looking around for a heavy object with which to defend myself and grabbed, of all things, a glass jewelry box. So I cock my arm, prepare to meet my fate and swung the door open, only to find my little kitty standing on his hind paws trying to get the magic round thing to open the door for him. Good GAWD!

    • I know just what you mean. Back in 1983 there was a TV movie called The Day After which left me terrified that the world would end. But then with Reagan and Khrushchev, it did seem likely. Kids do take seriously what adults say, in random ways. Once my brother got stuck in a tree. A neighbour came over with a saw to take a branch down, but he joked that he would saw my brother’s leg off. It was a truly scary moment!

  7. I have an irrational fear of frogs, flying and bridges. I always think the plane is going to go down, or the bridge collapse, at any second. It makes for a very long flight every time I go anywhere,,,,,I just avoid bridges if I can. Frogs? It’s the jumping – enough said! 🙂
    I carry two sets of house/car keys at all times because I’m scared of dropping them in a drain too – that may be more of an OCD thing than a fear though,

    • Frogs! That’s a new one to me. Do you get toads in your garden? I don’t go so far as to carry two sets of keys, but I have learned to take an extra car key when I go on a road trip 😦 I’m surprised about the flying since you travel a lot – do you drug yourself, LOL!

  8. Fiona

    Oh my goodness – it would *not* be pleasant to have the hostage/torture fear thing. I would much prefer the Frog fear if we had to choose these things! Although agreed – the jumpiness issue…!

    I have an irrational (but probably common) fear of not being able to sleep. When it kicks in it drives me absolutely loopy…the more I worry, the less I sleep. Lots of ironing gets done at 3am when this happens.

    Interesting to read other people’s comments of how childhood influences impact some fears.

    • Interesting about the sleep issue. I have the opposite fear – I don’t really like the process of waking up because of all the semi-conscious, left-over dream fragments that are hard to dispel. I never linger in bed!

  9. Fiona

    * note that typo was from a bout of insomnia last night!! You know what I meant…

  10. Jodi

    This might not help your key fear, but it is funny. A few years ago, I was coming home from a business trip in the middle of the night and I was getting into the elevator in my building. My hands were full and as I went to push the button, my keys fell. There was a small crack between the floor and door and the keys went down it. Long story short, the keys were never found, not even by the elevator repairman months later. This experience taught me that keys for filing cabinets work in all of the same models, and so do Samsung suitcase keys. It also made me happy that I have a great pet sitter who brought me keys to my apartment in the middle of the night.
    I never took the fear on though and I am happy about that.

    • Aaagh, that would do me in! I will have to mentally check where my keys are now every time I step into an elevator – especially when returning to my car in a parking garage!

  11. Lisa

    I have the common irrational fear of spiders, although I can trace mine back to a childhood incident with a drink, shaved ice and a spider that ended up getting chomped and spit out by me (in reality it was likely another type of insect, but when I spit out the weird thing in my mouth to my hand my mom said it was a spider and I have been freaked out ever since then). Weirdly too, I always seem to be the one that has a run in with a spider…sort of like the person who doesn’t like cats so all the cats come to them. Sadly, as a biologist this can be embarrassing especially when you are out in the field and you scream like a little girl at a spider on you 🙂

    • Lisa

      PS. I had to skip over that first picture in the post really, really fast, and then pretend I didn’t see it!

    • I did go through a phase of disliking spiders, because when I lived in Montreal, there were such huge ones! But I got used to them. I once let a tarantula crawl over my hand; I bet you wouldn’t have liked that!

      • Lisa

        Nope, don’t like it at all. If given the challenge even to win say, a kazillion dollars, I am pretty sure I could not do it! I met some really big guys in my travels in Australia, but it still didn’t cure my phobia once back in Canada – have you ever seen the size of a dock spider!

      • OMG, yes, we had a dock at our place when we were kids and you should have seen those critters!

  12. Where do I start!! My biggest fear is coming face to face with a snake – I often have to check under the bed just to be sure. I dislike any reptile or scaly fishy things I like my animals to have fur or even spikes like a hedgehog. After that it would be planes flying overhead (like they just drop out of the sky!) and I cannot sleep with the wardrobe door ajar – it has to be firmly shut (a hang over fear from my childhood – but we won’t even go there). Of course I have a new irrational fear – that you might never remember what you spent that $9.20 on!

    • I like snakes, turtles and frogs…hate slugs, though! I hope your home isn’t on a flight path? I think I will write off the $9.20 as a blogging expense since it was used as content for a post, LOL!

  13. What a great post! I have to agree about my worst fears – nightmares about my family being harmed usually stick with me the whole day as an undercurrent of worry and uneasiness – ugh.

    As for my irrational fears, I have some good ones: balls (for tennis, baseball, whatever) and eyes! I was hit in the forehead with a ball as a child and now I flinch whenever they come near me. Unfortunately, this fear has bled over into not liking anything being thrown at me . . which is a little embarrassing at times, but oh well. And eyes. Can’t stand watery eyes, injured eyes, a close up of an eye with veins popping! It makes my eyes water and then my mind races with a million scenarios of what might injure my eyes, bleh. If I ever need glasses, I’m definitely not the ideal candidate for contacts 😉

  14. With the arrival of our kittens, I have loads of new rational and irrational kitten fears…my worst is that they’ll manage to scale the upstairs windows and open the openable bits at the top and fall out from a great height and that the ginger tom from next door will sneak into our house and eat them…

    • We have a drain in our basement floor and I used to worry that the kittens would fall down it. They have an outdoors enclosure, and my neighbour told me that the crows used to watch them, so then I worried they’d be carried off by crows! Luckily they are middle-aged now (6) and nothing bad has happened!

  15. Another one who gets a slight shiver of anxiety as I cross a grate. I hate it when I have to park near one. Although it has never happened to me, if fear dropping my keys down the grate. But maybe it is because I fear it, that I am careful and so I don’t drop them?

    My other irrational fear: sitting in a car when the driver is reverse parking. Crazy, I know. I’ve been working on it and now don’t have to close me eyes, but I still sometimes have to get out before they park. It is OK when I am the driver,

    Reading other fears makes me happy to hear I’m not the only loony.

    • I am so used to driving that it feels “wrong” when I am a passenger. I feel nervous, even with a good driver – their reaction time and mine are never quite the same! I have found everyone else’s comments very reassuring for that reason, too!

  16. Flying in a plane or anything really, my dad tells me I’ve much more chance of dying by driving on our local roads, but this doesn’t really comfort me. Heights terrify me, Injections, giving blood, anesthetics. Hmm, I really do have quite a lot of fears! I don’t like cats either, one decapitated my canary, one jumped up on me and hung by it’s paws from my school jumper and only last week, a very wet cat came running in from outside at a dinner party, jumped on my lap and planted it’s paw in my dinner. I don’t like to touch them, even kittens give me the creeps. I think they know this, they seek me out…..

    • As a cat owner, I know from people visiting my house how many people are so very afraid of cats. It’s the not knowing when they will jump that does it! While I can tolerate injections, I don’t give blood because it trickles at a snail’s pace and doesn’t want to be given up!

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