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Written By Deborah Onanuga

A phobia is defined as “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.” I’ve had my fair share of phobias throughout my life. I’ve been scared of the dark, dogs, and bugs, for pretty much all my life. But now my fear of the dark and dogs is gone. Like I didn’t even realize this until I noticed just how bad my fear of bugs has gotten.

For me, it’s worse with spiders, but all bugs scare me. Just seeing a spider (no matter how small,) makes my heartbeat skyrocket and my breaths quicken. And seeing one moving… well, it’s just hard not to spiral into pure panic. ‘They’re so small, how can you be scared. Just step on them!’ Those are the things my parents say after I frantically wave them to the newest spider I’ve seen in our house. I know that they’re small, and easy to kill. But I just can’t. I really wish there was some magic word I could say to remove my fear, because at this point, it's debilitating. I can’t enter a room without scanning the corners and walls for bugs. And then once I know there are no bugs in the room, I can’t help but look up every 20 minutes or so to see if one came in. I envy the people who look at spiders and don’t immediately go into fight or flight. Or the people who are brave enough to pick a bug up and take it outside, instead of just smashing it. Or the people who keep tarantulas as pets. (I can’t believe people can do that. A normal spider is bad enough. One that has giant hairy legs... )

In May, cicadas came around, which made everything in my life infinitely harder. If you don’t know, cicadas are big bugs that fly around lazily and land on people. That’s like their whole goal in life (just kidding), to ruin people’s lives. Did you know that someone even got into a car crash because of one? Their window was open and one flew in and BAM, they crashed their car. That’s something that would happen to me. And the worse part is, they’re not like flies or mosquitoes. If you swat at them, they don’t fly away. You literally have to brush them off your body. I swear I am scarred because of this. The next time they come around, I’m just going to stay inside.

But back to my Entomophobia (fear of bugs.) The people who say things like ‘just step on them, it’s not that big of a deal (or my favorite,) you’re overreacting,’ make me so mad. Like, I can’t control my fear of bugs. I really truly wish I wasn’t like this. But you’re not in my mind. You don’t know what it’s like to see a tiny bug and have a full freak out. Their words make me feel like something is wrong with me for my fear.

Once, I came across a girl who said she had a fear of mushrooms. And at first, I laughed at her in my head. ‘What?’ I thought, ‘How could someone be scared of mushrooms?’ But then it quickly dawned on me that I was being hypocritical. I hate it when people look down on me for my fear. So why should I have the right to laugh at someone else’s fear?

Everyone is different. We have different lives, different lifestyles, different experiences. So why should we all be held to the same standard?

Phobias suck. Big time. But they’re made worse when people judge us for our fears. So whether someone has coulrophobia (fear of clowns,) or arachnophobia (fear of spiders,) we need to remember not to judge them. And to the people dealing with those phobias, remember that you’re not alone. Maybe after people teased you for your fear, you felt like nobody understands you. But chances are, your fear is more common than you think.

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