There are the classic fears of spiders, heights, and enclosed spaces. The obscure and ridiculous ones such as a fear of socks, cotton wool or losing phone signal (nomophobia is a genuine a phobia...I told you there are some ridiculous ones). Worst of all are the subconscious ones which creep up on you in your sleep and terrify you as nightmares. Whether you’re a hard nut who laughs in the face of danger, or a massive hypochondriac who squeals when someone puts mushrooms in their meal (like my fella), we’ve all got a fear.
Two years ago my biggest fears were spiders and heights. I had vivid nightmares about being on the top floor of a shopping centre and there being no railings to stop me tripping and falling off the side. I would pelt out a horror film scream if even a tiny money spider crawled past me. With this in mind, my decision to go to Australia, a country famous for its deadly spiders and dramatic cliffs and gorges, may have seemed a little absurd. Yet determined not to let my fears control me, I booked my one way flight and prayed for the best (no point in wasting money on a return flight if I may not survive!).
It was very early morning when I arrived, but my spider sensor kept me exceptionally alert. It began with checking the bus seat before I sat down, and quickly escalated to insisting the windows be kept shut in the hostel room despite it being a sweltering 38 degrees (obviously spiders can only get in via windows and doors). As you may expect, I wasn’t the most popular person in the hostel. On my first night in Oz I managed a meager 3 hours of sleep, and that was just because my boyfriend lied and told me that he would keep watch to make sure no spiders crawled into my mouth while I was sleeping. The ‘every person eats an average of 7 spiders in their lifetime’ fact becomes slightly more petrifying when you’re surrounded by red back and funnel web arachnids (aka the killers!).
Yet somehow, amid showering with my poisonous eight legged friends and trekking to gigantic gorges and waterfalls in the Kimberley, I overcame my fears. The stupidity of having to be surrounded by an infestation of truly deadly spiders to finally overcome my fear of them makes no sense to me, but it worked. I now have two well fed daddy long leg spiders living above my front door, and rather than squash them, I leave them there to eat all of the pesky flies, and to remind me not to let fear stop me from doing anything. Give it a go; climb to the top of a tall building and peer off the edge, dare yourself to take the lift, let a spider crawl across your hand (maybe not a poisonous one though), and I bet you’ll feel proud afterwards. Take control and conquer your fears!