Skinned knees hurt.

I’m no good at skateboarding. It’s not about balance. I do yoga on the semi-regular and can hold a tree with the middlest of them. It’s about impact on cement and being kind of a chicken.

I’m also pretty willing to give up. As Homer Simpson says, “if something’s hard to do, it’s not worth doing.” I like being comfortable and not looking the fool and that’s been true my whole life. Skateboarding promised to end both those things. Giving up seemed like a better choice.

Add four decades and stir, and you end up with regret. Skateboarding is once again having a moment and I wish I could play. It’d be nice to glide along the boardwalk on a sunny, winter day with the wind in my hair and my iTunes on shuffle, local bylaws preventing the same notwithstanding.

I’d skip the cranberry beverage though: I find them weirdly dehydrating. [i]


When the going gets tough, the tough get going: out of the room, down the hall, and out the door. Don’t participate in any activity that generates discomfort or fear. Safe and easy is the right way to live.

What a horrible philosophy I sometimes embrace.

I don’t always give up. I got over my fear of spiders. In an, “I can deal with them around the house and in the garden without having a panic attack” kind of way: I still have no plans for a pet tarantula. I also get out of bed and investigate the scary things that go bump in the night, terrified-certainty of an awaiting supernatural horror notwithstanding. And laziness isn’t evident when I spend hours redesigning my library or repainting the living room: sometimes I get it done.

Other times, not so much.

Ask me to work on my last big phobia and my body language mimics someone thinking about bolting for the door.

Probably because I’m considering bolting for the door.

Androphobia. Fear of males. I’ve had it most of my life and I don’t know where it came from. My dad’s a benign pushover and I didn’t encounter that many horrible adult men growing up. Despite not understanding the origin, the fear exists: I’ve been afraid for a long as I can remember. Add bad luck and instances of abuse and you end up with one phobia, as ordered.

I know, without needing it said, that “not all men” is true. As mentioned, my father is great and my brothers, while wanting as siblings, are decent human beings in other respects. I also number men in my circle of friends and none are raving lunatics, though acceptance took time: I was not instantly warm and welcoming.

Unfortunately, what you know in your head is different from the instinctive reaction you have when you turn the corner at the end of the grocery store aisle and a large man you didn’t expect is standing there. It takes me time to relax my guard around men: chance encounters are hard on the system. All that adrenalin surging causes wear and tear.

The increased isolation of the pandemic, though necessary, has made things worse.

I worked on it half-heartedly pre-pandemic via exposure. Going out more often and not shying away from the men I encountered while doing so. Making eye contact. Not fleeing or changing directions. Even occasionally attempting verbal interaction.

But even with the work, men still scare me. And if, as Homer says, hard things are to be avoided then scary things are probably best left alone too.

Which is the long way of saying that left is the only direction I seem comfortable swiping on the dating app I downloaded. [ii] I tried swiping right a couple of times but I matched. That was not a good feeling.

I know not all men. I know skinned knees heal and fear is rarely as bad as reality. Unless you live in Maine. Not being ready is a not good reason to quit. I did anyway. Maybe I’ll be ready in a fortnight when the app wakes back up.

Or not.

Bravery and persistence are likely overrated qualities.


Do you have fears and phobias?
How do you deal with them?
Should you always lean in and face the fear or is it sometimes okay to give up?


[i] “Viral TikTok video shows man skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac song Dreams

[ii] I went with Bumble. I like it because in heterosexual matches, it requires women to make the first move, theoretically cutting back on inappropriate advances (the polite way of “trying to reduce the number of unsolicited penis pictures”). I hate it for the same reason. It also has “friend finding” and “career building” options.

By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so that things start to make sense. Once I have both myself and the universe figured out, I plan to take up macrame. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

8 comments

  1. This might not make sense but I’m afraid of being afraid. There was a time when anxiety and panic were constant companions. To run away further I drank myself into oblivion for decades.

    Now I still have the fear that they might jump up at any time and beat the hell out of me, but it very rarely happens and never to the degree it used to.

    As I get older I deal with it a little better and by the time I die I think it won’t be a problem at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I get that. The anticipation of those horrible feelings is a misery, especially if you are even the tiniest bit sensitive.

      It’s one of the great ironies of life I think that we only get good at things as the time for doing them passes. So at the end of life, being an expert makes sense. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fear of men? Weird. But some men fear women, so, who am I to say? I like your strategy when choosing a dating app. I didn’t know Bumble had all these cool features.

    Do I have fears? Yes, probably, but I try not to think about it too much. If I face something I don’t like, I reason to see if it’s a rational or irrational fear. (Being scared of jumping without a cord off a tall, tall bridge isn’t fear. It’s common sense.) Afterward, yes, I usually just face it. I like challenging myself. It’s a fetish of mine. However, I think sometimes it’s ok to just walk away. When? When you know that the chances of you facing your fear are slim. It’s ok not to tackle it if you can avoid it in the long run. I don’t think you can avoid men for the rest of your life…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like you logical response to fears you can realistically avoid. People get weird about their worries sometimes but honestly, if you have a dire fear that makes you nearly pass out but you can completely avoid the thing without negative affecting your life, do it!

      But yes, you can’t avoid men. I was somewhat disingenous when I said I didn’t understand the source, but it’s only a possible, not a “for sure” and unfixable in any case.

      But yeah, avoiding men isn’t realistic. Plus, when I calm down enough to interact, I like them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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