Afraid of the dark? Me too

Shelley Blundell

I am afraid of the dark.

Not all dark, mind you. Generally I am OK with it.

But sometimes, for no apparent reason, no matter where I am, I will get that “hinkly” feeling when the hair on the back of my neck will stand on end, my stomach will start to do Michelle Kwan-reminiscent movements, and I run for the nearest light source.

While I acknowledge that this fear is irrational and that my “fear” has reared its ugly head for a generally stupid reason – for example, I have just watched a scary movie and now my overactive imagination is running wild – it doesn’t help me when I’m in that initial grip of fear that sends my every sensory perception into overdrive.

I am a self-diagnosed nyctophobic.

I share this with you because the other day, I read that an alarming number of Americans have at least one phobia – one of the most common being social phobia. About 5.3 million Americans ages 18 to 54 suffer from social phobia, while 6.3 million Americans in the same age range suffer from a specific phobia, according to phobia-fear-release.com.

This means that while I may feel stupid for my nyctophobia, I am not alone in my illogical and irrational fear.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s Web site, a specific phobia is “an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger.” No problem – I know there are no such things as boogeymen in my cupboard or “baddies” hiding under my bed. However, every so often that fear of the dark thing, a “specific phobia,” will rear its ugly head, and I feel almost powerless to resist it.

What has happened to us, I wonder? When did we all stop being fearless kids – the kids who would run barefoot through unknown forests with reckless abandon, who would play on rusty jungle gyms erected on concrete paving with no fear for our impending death should we fall, or better yet, those of us lucky enough to get a set of lawn darts for Christmas, which we eagerly threw at shrubs, small animals and, egads, younger siblings?

Because it seems almost vogue to do so nowadays, I blame the terrorists.

Well that doesn’t make any sense, does it? Exactly.

Too often these days we are paralyzed by fear of the “terrorist cells” we’ve been told are hiding in and around America. Let me tell you something – I’m more afraid that F U Bob is going to pee on me one day in downtown Kent than I am afraid that I am going to be the victim of a terrorist attack.

So don’t let the “war on terror” cripple your ability to have fun. Speak to that girl you could never get up the courage to speak to before. Go ahead and buy that ridiculously overpriced pair of green stilettos that costs more than you make in a month but make your legs go up to your eyeballs. Better yet – try and live your life like you did before “the terrorists.”

I’m not saying be careless or reckless; I’m just saying don’t let your fear ruin your life. I’m slowly coming to terms with mine, and I know I’m a better person for it.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even sleep with the light off tonight.

Shelley Blundell is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]