What Your Irrational Fear Says About You

Spoiler: it says you’re insane but aren’t we all?


When you dig deep into your psyche and sniff out the cheap seats in the back, what kind of weirdo worries and neuroses do you find? Do you discover that off-looking tile you avoid in your parents’ kitchen? The way you check to make sure you have your keys two seconds after putting them in your bag? How about the way you leap onto your bed just in case — JUST IN CASE — that girl from The Sixth Sense is waiting patiently beneath for a nice pair of ankles to grab?

There are so many odd little fears baked into the way we do things and it’s about time we addressed what they truly say about us. So snuggle up, draw the blinds and put some garlic on your door because it’s about to get seriously scary in here.

Fear of ordering a variation on a menu item


You’d gladly pay a premium for food you don’t like that much in exchange for the warm and fuzzy pleasure of a 17-year-old kid thinking you’re easy going. Your biggest secret is you don’t like tomatoes and the only thing worse than a big juicy one hidden in your sandwich is the agony of giving your server a 1-second wrist cramp by asking them to write that down.

There’s just no nice way to say “Could I by chance get that without tomatoes please but no big deal if it’s not possible also I adopted my dog and am available to help you with your homework later for free.”

Fear of running into an ex in your sweats


You’re not sure of much but you do know one thing: your self-worth is tied directly and intimately to how attractive your ex thinks you are. If you run into them with sweatpants on your body then they’ll have a light bulb moment containing the following realizations: you were never a good partner to them, they are inherently better than you and you’re probably dating several subway rats.

That you aren’t interested in them nor have any desire to be with them has no bearing on the level of importance you place on their opinion of you.

Fear of telling your uber driver they are going the wrong way


Sure, maybe you’ve lived in the neighborhood for six years and could zip around these streets with your eyes closed, but isn’t it possible that this driver who was hired on Sunday knows better than you? Isn’t it possible that your brain just stopped working, like, 12 seconds ago? Maybe you’re actually dumb and don’t know stuff.

Even if not, you’d rather be late than be so bold as to tell your driver they are going the wrong way down a one-way. As no one in their right mind ever said: better off dead than rude.

Fear of wearing the same dress as someone else


Showing up to a party in the same dress as your friend immediately broadcasts to all attending that your clothing is not bespoke and that makes you shake in your boots (which you shamefully did not cobble yourself). You’re not sure what’s worse: showing up to a party naked or people knowing you shop at stores. The kicker is that everyone at the party will remember this moment because they definitely aren’t too focused on their own weird shit to worry about yours.

You call yourself a big fan of the tap-dancing twins emoji but if you’re honest it sends a shiver down your spine.

Fear of disappointing salespeople by not buying what they’re selling


Nothing gets your guilt engine rumbling quicker than a compliment from a salesperson who financially benefits from giving it. You may have entered the store looking for a very specific shoe for your sister’s wedding and you may be on a budget after your car broke down on the highway last week but what even is your actual physical safety compared to the puppy dog eyes of the guy who just told you that $17,000 bag ought to be glued to your fucking shoulder it looks so good?

Your car that’s literally on fire can wait. Not buying the bag would only disappoint this random person for like ten seconds and rob them of a 10-15% commission.

Fear of asking what a word means


You’re pretty sure you got an education but what if you accidentally missed a whole chunk of it? You know, the part where everyone learns all the words? This seems plausible, so you tread lightly.

If you ask what the wrong word means then not only do you undermine every bit of hard work you’ve done to build your reputation as a person with half a brain, but you might actually — and this would be worse than sawing off your own head — make someone around you feel better for having the same question.

Fear of telling your hairstylist how you really feel


You just know deep down in your bones that your hairdresser has been waiting their entire life to hear four little words crawl lifelessly out of your unsmiling mouth: “Aw, I like it.” So who are you to rob them of self-realization?

Telling them the truth might mean your hair gets fixed or your money gets saved or someone else’s hair gets spared but are any of those worth it if your hairdresser — who is being paid to make you look better — is privy to tenderly-provided constructive feedback that they miserably failed?

You think not and you may even tip them extra for the shitty job.

Illustrations by Meghann Stephenson. You can follow Meghann on Instagram and Tumblr.


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  • Pia Hocevar Mucic

    Hahaha fear of disappointing salespeople, I totally have that!
    Fash ‘n’ fudge
    Fash ‘n’ fudge

    • I make up reasons as to why I can’t buy something. A sales lady at Kiehl’s was being really pushy trying to get me to buy one of their oils, and I just looked at the ingredients and told her I was allergic to something on it. It was total BS, but it worked.

      • Melissa

        I ended up just making my Kiehls purchase and then returning it. Haha I’ll have to use your trick next time.

      • Kelly

        Oh, as someone that’s worked in sales it is one of my pet peeves when people make up silly excuses to not buy something. Like, I don’t really care if you don’t buy it.. You can just tell me that you don’t like it and it wont bother me at all. I’ll stop suggesting things if I know you’re actually not interested in that particular thing.
        But I didn’t work in a commission based store, so I was making the same amount of money if you bought it or not!

        • Trust me, this lady was being SUPER pushy and trying to force every product down my throat. As a consumer – who also likes the space to browse without being followed like prey – I don’t appreciate it when a sales person is being extremely pushy.

          I did buy two creams, but I came out of there feeling exhausted and claustrophobic. We all shop differently!

          • Kelly

            I get it. I’m the kind of shopper that likes minimal contact.
            I swear working in retail ruined the joy of shopping for me.

    • $%^%$^%$645645

  • Kristi

    Soooo I have a quite a few on this list. Hairdresser fears are REAL yo. Except I never overtip for a bad job. I have a pretty standard amount I tip her every time unless I do something majorly different than what I had before.

    My sister has a practically debilitating fear of Wind Turbines – you know those large whirlygig looking things that generate electricity naturally – she will tear up if she’s driving near them (there are a lot on the west coast). My bff and I are the asses that take photos or videos and text them to her. Sometimes I feel bad but irrational fears are SO irrational.

    LASTLY – Bees are a VERY real fear. I have that one too. I’ve been attacked more than once. Why why whyyy do we need hornets and yellow jackets?! They are just mean. Honey Bees on the other hand, fine, they can live. I like honey.

    • Aydan

      I too have the hairstylist one and it gives me so much anxiety of whether or not to tip! Made the mistake once of going to a different woman when my typical stylist was on vacay for a bang trim — took me nearly two months to get that mistake corrected and I struggled with how much tip in the moment and probably overpaid… 🙁

    • kellymcd

      I have a friend who is irrationally afraid of butterflies. Myself (and others) are CONSTANTLY sending her photos and videos of anything butterfly related. Yup, we’re also asses.

    • wind turbines!! not that i can talk – i have a fear of medical gauze and anything with tiny holes (i refer to it as an “aversion” to save face)

      • Rachel Janaye

        That’s called trypophobia!

      • Tess

        Hey, guessing your fear of medical gauze is a kind of off-shoot of Sidonglobophobia, which is the phobia of cotton-balls. But maybe that’s me projecting a bit, since sometimes certain cotton products freak me out a little.

        • oh wow. did not know this one! I’m actually okay with cotton balls, so I think it’s more related to trypophobia. I’ll have to keep my eye out for sidonglobophobia reactions now because it’s too much fun to say to not be used in everyday vocabulary

  • I have this weird “fear” of interacting with sales people — forget disappointing them! I used to be terrified of paying cashiers at the grocery store (thankfully I got over that one), and I still want to hide in the clothing racks when approached by a salesperson. They’re so pushy!

  • Laura

    No hypochondria? Or fear of travelling?

  • Kelsey Moody

    Fear of not telling people I didnt hear what they just said….a lot of smiling, nodding and saying “totally, right?” Also, not remembering someones name immediately after they tell me their name very clearly to my face

  • I’m afraid (maybe hesitant is a better word?) of revolving doors and escalators. The first because I fear having my arm caught between the doors, and the other because I might trip.

    • MT

      My mother is afraid of down escalators, and trained us kids to get on them in front of her so she can’t see the bottom as she steps onto them. It really helped. Once she’s on and has stable footing, we can turn around and continue our conversation, but in the first 3-5 seconds of getting toa down escalator, it’s silence and jsut get on the damn thing so mom doesn’t have to see the thing that scares her.

  • Maia

    I have roughly 6/7 of these fears – and they’re all really just symptoms of my larger fear of disappointing people/leaving any interaction with anyone thinking ill of me.

  • Mercedes Ayala

    I have sweatpants with cat faces on them. You tell me if the fear is irrational or not.

  • Maurissa Dahms

    Still terrified of flushing airplane toilets, but that irrational fear is slowly being overtaken by the fear of flying in general… Also after I turn the lights off in the basement or garage there is no way that I’m not sprinting up the stairs/away from whatever hands are definitely reaching for me from the darkness.

  • So most of these are the fears of people-pleasers and like two are fears of people who are easily embarrassed i.e. people who have imposter syndrome/not a high (enough) sense of self {if I don’t know this word it determinedly means I’m stupid}

    So basically I have all of these fears

    And also my worst fear is that my fears aren’t irrational

  • Escalators.

    I watched a show in the 80’s about a kid who got his shoelace stuck in an escalator, and it scarred my 5-6 year old self FOR LIFE. To this day, I still hesitate getting onto one, out of fear that I’ll trip or get stuck. Every. Damn. Time.

    It’s why I always insist my husband go ahead of me. If I don’t, he will for sure crash into me when I stop for that split second before hopping on. Even on the most leisurely of days, he’s always in the biggest damn hurry. 😉

  • Well, after moving to 9 different countries – and finding the one I love-I have an irrational fear of moving back to NYC – and its happening!!! anyone there to offer advice?! :S


  • Sarah Tindale

    I suffer from the irrational fear of getting someones name wrong, and I don’t just mean someone i just met. Sometimes i have a little freak out that I’ve been saying my husbands name wrong and hes too embarrassed to tell me. I may have a problem.

    • Maia

      Definitely have this one.

  • Most summers include a week or two spent in a tent in Scandinavia, to enjoy the great Outdoors. Love it every time.

    Unfortunately, it is hasn’t been the same since having watched The Blair Witch Project.

  • Rosaly

    is there a fear of never getting a job. Post grad feels!!

  • Carley

    Terrified of going to new food places, especially ones where you have to order Subway-style. WHAT IF I DO IT WRONG!? It = order food.