Give The People What They Want

Will My Fears Ever Change?

Tween columnist Henry J. walks us through his biggest fears (heights, insects, chalk, death), while musing on the human fear cycle.


Give The People What They Want is a monthly column on the happenings of a preteen, written by 12-year-old Henry J.

Sorry for my hiatus of articles, lots of stuff going on in my personal life. So, I bring to you my latest and greatest Masterpiece, Freaking Out.

What makes me freak out? Well, there's the common stuff. Heights, we all have that fear when you’re on a hike on a mountain, and you peek off the side of the cliff, and that shot of fear goes directly into your face. Heights and Insects are my main fears.

The insect fear didn't actually start until I was like 6 or 7. Before that, I was fine with bugs. It started when I watched Indiana Jones 4: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There's this one scene where the bad guys are chasing Indiana through the jungle on separate jeeps, and at the end of the chase, they drive off into a large dirt open area, where a bunch of huge, man-eating ants come out of huge mounds in the dirt and start eating the bad guys. Indy has a fight with one of the main bad guys, and it ends with Indy sucker punching the guy, making him stumble and fall into the ants, where then the ants enter every single orifice on his head (Mouth, Nose, Ears) and he's screaming his lungs out. At that moment, I'm starting to rethink my future job and become an exterminator. The ants drag him away into the mounds, and the scene ends.

I'm here, in a shocked state, with my jaw dropped to the floor and further down to earth’s core. There are scenes like this with various giant man-eating bugs that have scared me; The Mummy and the Skin-Crawling Scarabs, King Kong (2005 with Jack Black) and its giant worms and grasshoppers, and StarShip Troopers with the giant weird alien bugs.

“At that moment, I'm starting to rethink my future job and become an exterminator.”

Now, let's talk about the less common fears that I have. Chalk is a notable one. When I was about 9, in an after-school activity where you sat around and did stuff with your friends, the supervisors brought out buckets of chalk. My friends picked up the chalk and started drawing. I went to pick one up, too, but when I touched the chalk, I just hated how it felt. It’s so dry, so weird feeling, and just like, chalky.

Another time that I freaked out, I was at my grandma’s house for Christmas and I was on my laptop. Now, I don't know if I've told people this, but I have a stuffed animal named Gabriel. I’ve had him since I was about 5, and he’s a dear good friend. (I got him at Legoland) Gabriel is a white tiger, which is, unfortunately, an about-to-go-endangered animal, so I was on my laptop, and I saw a Dodo Article that was talking about how they were about to go extinct. It wasn't the exact name of the article, but it was because the image on the front page of it was a dead White Tiger with bullet holes in it. I was absolutely freaking out. I was running around like there was a Cruise Missile about to blow up the United States. My parents calmed me down, and I eventually just sat down and watched whatever my granddad was watching on the TV at that time.

On the topic of animals being endangered or being IN danger, let's talk about my cats. I have owned five cats in the past. Shermy and Bucky, two black cats who have passed. Yasha, a 3-legged cat that I loved with all my heart, we had to give him to my mom's friend because he kept on doing his business everywhere like he had a report to file on Monday (He had a bladder problem cuz of his three legs), And Anushka and Misha, who are my two current cats. When the lesser three cats went away, we all had our fair share of crying. Shermy died on Christmas morning, Bucky died the morning after a sleepover with my friends, and we gave Yasha away when we got back from vacation. All of these are very bad times to lose your cats. I just want to say if you plan on owning a cat, be prepared to do the following: Feeding, Scooping & Refilling litter boxes, Cleaning up whatever they hack up all the time, and, unfortunately, be ready for if they pass on.

“I was absolutely freaking out. I was running around like there was a Cruise Missile about to blow up the United States.”

You know, all of this talking about freaking out has made me think about why some people are completely fine with some things like snakes or spiders, but some people are extremely sensitive to these things. I guess it’s just how people’s nerves or brains react. I mean, I guess those people who aren’t scared probably started out being scared but gradually got used to the things they're fine with. For me, I'm just scared of things, and I won't get over it. I guess there are some things I can remember that I got over, like when I went fishing, my dad got a little tub of worms, and I was at first terrified of them, but I got used to them, and I was able to handle them without freaking out.

Another example is at night, when I take out the trash, tons of crickets just sit in our front yard, and I swear every time I go out there, I feel like I'm about to be eaten alive by the crickets, like a swarm of piranhas. This feeling has been with me for more than like three years, dude.

As I look back on these memories, I think how my fear reactor hasn’t really evolved. When I was little, I was scared of Chalk and Bugs, now it’s the same. I can’t get over a fear, and I can't make a new fear, it’s just the same fear that makes me freak out every time.

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