I have many of them. Not as many or as interesting as some (I am thinking of Megan here, who I remember in the sixth grade having some kind of worry about her jaw unhinging), but many of them. In the spirit of sharing, here are five.
Appendicitis. I don’t know why this has always seemed so urgently possible to me, but as far back as middle school I would assume that every small twinge or pang meant that my appendix was about to rupture. This was exacerbated by my inability to remember which side of your body your appendix is on, so I passed many afternoons casually quizzing my friends – “Hey, where’s your appendix? Definitely not on your right side, huh? No, I was just curious.” – while trying not to appear panicked or call 911. It has been revealed to me that you can just have your appendix taken out as a precaution, and I would be lying if I said I had not considered this.
Airport security. Flying doesn’t bother me; in fact I really enjoy the moment of takeoff, and the opportunities for napping. I am a skinny 20-year-old white girl who looks like the most dangerous thing I’m capable of is dropping luggage on your foot. But I am positive every time I fly that I am going to be locked up in a windowless room and interrogated, or forbidden to fly ever again, or sent to Guantanamo Bay. I am so sorry I forgot to put my liquids in a Ziploc bag! So sorry!
Cancer. I am not actually convinced that this is an irrational fear; if you saw my pasty white skin, you would agree. But I am still pretty much the only person I know who puts on SPF 50 to go to the bank, or makes her mother buy glass containers for our leftovers so that carcinogens cannot slowly leach into her food while it sits in the fridge. I take so many vitamins daily that I think my freshman roommate thought I was on HIV meds or something. And you know I have my Gardasil all taken care of. Just thinking about cervical cancer makes me feel physically ill. Guys, that means cancer. But on your cervix. Oh my goodness.
Car trouble. My car is thirteen years old, and while it is mostly well-maintained it has seen better days, and OH JESUS CHRIST I JUST HIT A POTHOLE GOING 70 I am probably about to die. That is what my commute feels like every day. Every time I change the oil a week late or accidentally start in second, I see the car’s life (also my own) flash before my eyes. Related fear: having to order one of those “teach yourself to sell everything you own on eBay” DVDs because I totaled the car and can no longer sustain a job that requires leaving my house.
Undercooking meat. I have been cooking at least a little since like the age of twelve; my mother has always worked pretty long hours, and if I start dinner before she gets home we can eat around 8 or 8:30 instead of 10. I have been burning the meat beyond recognition since maybe the age of fourteen, when I found out what E. coli was and freaked the fuck out. As far as I can tell, E. coli and salmonella mean that I can kill you by making you a hamburger. That is terrifying. So I developed this neurotic kind of system where I cut the meat open to check the inside every two minutes or so, and every two minutes debate with myself over whether maybe it is still a little pink in there? The light isn’t so good, but it couldn’t hurt to cook it a little longer. This continues until I can no longer cut the meat open because there is a hard crust burned around the outside, and the inside is hard as a rock. It’s inedible, but also not deadly. (Side note: watching the Food Network in my later years has taught me that you can use a thermometer to check the inside temperature. Comforting, but not totally curative information.)
(Runner-ups: Paula Deen, clowns, horror movies featuring creepy children, the General Theory of Relativity, caffeine.)
There you have it! If you feel like sharing any of your own anxieties, feel free. Or don’t, whatever. I guess I can handle being the only crazy one around.