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The Evolution of Fear

The Evolution of Fear

By RG Daniels

Birth
From the minute your life begins, you're on a non-stop adventure filled with exciting twists and turns (and that's just in the birth canal!). You may be alarmed by your surroundings, from the pine air-freshener in the cab on the way to the hospital to the blinding lights* in the delivery room to the terrifying baby names your parents considered ("Apple," "Cinnamon," "Teakettle") before settling on "Emma." Regardless, no baby wants to enter the world pooping all over the place and this is stage one in the evolution of fear.

Being a baby
There's almost too much to be afraid of when you're a baby: clowns,* dogs,* the way Dad smells in the morning, bees, dubstep, the microwave beeping,* your older brother and his strange fondness for throwing you into a pile of pillows from the top of the stairs,* bees,* store mannequins,* Mom's t-shirt with an oversized print of Mariah Carey's face on the front, thunder,* lightning, and did we mention bees? It's tough being that small in a world so big, but eventually, all those things don't seem so scary. Except the bees. They get even more terrifying when you find out our entire agriculture industry is dependent on shrinking bee populations pollinating the crops(!).

Childhood
As you graduate to elementary school, you gain some courage. You can watch a show with creepy puppets and you have learned to handle gory badminton injuries.* As a child, your fears are mostly related to your size in comparison to your challenges, and you likely have the courage to get into a situation, but not out of it. You may recall having your first panic attack while hanging from the monkey bars,* dangling helplessly until the fire department showed up.

Preteen
By the time people stop calling you "Hang Time," you will be in middle school. Here, you will be mostly frightened on a social level, but also you'll be scared of the changes going on with you physically. You may want to talk to the girl with the Adventure Time backpack, but find you suffer an eerie condition where your hands become uncontrollably sweaty every time you approach her.* Another preteen fear: the purple rings that are supposed to show up in swimming pools if you pee.

Adolescence
Ah, the teenage years. That magical time where ANYTHING THAT MAKES YOU LOOK RIDICULOUS in front of peers is the #1 fear. Quite often, this means your parents.* There is honestly nothing more terrifying than finally catching the eye of the person you are crushing on, then hearing your Dad honk the horn and yell, "Ready for those Rooty Tooty flapjacks at IHOP, Hang Time? Let's go!!! Your mother's getting her pits waxed so we only have an hour!!" Mortifying.

College years
This is quite honestly, the peak of fearlessness. You're comfortable with who you are, have a plan, are following it through, and even have an S.O. to share those college memories with. What can possibly go wrong? Well, one day everything is sunshine and tube socks, and the next your GPA drops to 2.0, you lose the Quidditch grand final, the book on Barthes that you need is checked out of the library, and there is a goanna in your dorm room.*

Young adult
OK. Breathe. Breathe again. This is where this post might freak the ever-living daylights out of you, but that is not the intention. Instead, we want to prepare you for what's to come in the post-college, still-an-adolescent years. The yeti that will disturb your sleep in your twenties is … The Real World. You will have bills to pay.* You will have jobs you don’t want to wake up for and bosses who care less about you than they do the shopping carts at your place of employment. Your parents will be laughing. You'll wonder about the future. You'll bump into someone who still calls you "Hang Time." It'll be tough. Not to worry! Eventually, you will begin to see the world for what it is: a large and wonderful place that can be enjoyed as long as you work hard, keep a positive attitude, and take the time to see the beauty in things (especially yourself).

Adulthood
You've survived. Congratulations! See, it wasn't so bad. Now you are an adult. You are making some money doing what you love and feel born to do. You may or may not be married and you may or may have kids.* You have escaped dying in a freak roof-walking incident and becoming a mere statistic. Regardless of your situation, the only thing you have to fear is fear itself. It's true. Be the best spouse/parent/human being you can possibly be at this time in your life. Accept the hardships along with the victories and you will have nothing to be afraid of.

Late adulthood
At this point is when the visits to the doctor may pick up. You'll notice your back feels like a leprechaun was kicking it repeatedly for two weeks straight. Or maybe you'll start to develop a weird condition where every third word you say is in French. During late adulthood, your health will give rise to a cornucopia of fears. We're not suggesting you should panic every time you cough or get an itch on your arm, but if you wake up one day and your body is the same color as Smurfette,* you should go to the doctor.

Senior years
During your "Golden Years," your greatest fear is to leave the world pooping. It may or may not happen. All we do know is that people will love you for giving them an entire life's worth of memories. And if your tombstone reads "Here lies 'Hang Time,'" it's because you were strong for holding on as long as you did.

TL;DR: light/noise => clowns => heights => boys => being noticed => John Milton => LIFE => unmitigated panic => itchy eyeballs => pooping.

*All just metaphors for dying, we're afraid.

What are you afraid of?

Topics: Life
Tags: death, growing up, fear, evolution, birth, peeing in the pool

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About the Author
RG Daniels

RG Daniels is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. He likes ‘90s one-hit wonders, breakfast for dinner, and koala bears. He is currently on Level 163 in Candy Crush.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.

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