Everyone is afraid of something, but for most of us it's something that "makes sense" like spiders, snakes, etc. That's not the case for everyone, though.
Scientists haven't fully figured out the mechanisms of fear. Some seem to be instinctive, like our fears of predatory animals such as sharks, crocodiles, etc. But others don't seem to make any sense at all. There are theories that they may develop after a trauma, but that's not always the case.
As far as science is concerned, the mechanics of fear are an unsolved mystery.
Some people develop fears of totally innocuous things like butterflies, pieces of string, or the breeze. Yes, a fear of the breeze or moving air is a real thing. It's called "aerophobia" and can be so bad that people who suffer from it can't go outside, be near a window where they might see plants swaying in the wind, or even be in a room with a fan.
Quora wanted to know:
People's responses were incredibly varied and unusual - demonstrating that just about anything can end up as a trigger to someone. Before we get into the answers, we wanted to take a moment to thank responders for their willingness to be vulnerable and share.
Some answers have been edited for clarity or language.
I know this is going to sound odd, so bear with me.
I have a fear of wrists.
For as long as I can remember, I have been terrified of the underside of wrists. I can't look at my own wrists. I definitely can't touch them. I don't own a single watch or bracelet. Sometime I even struggle with long sleeved shirts, because I can feel it touching my wrists.
One time, I scratched my wrist on a nail and I almost passed out.
Anytime wrists are shown on TV, I have to turn away. Once someone unexpectedly cut their wrist during a show, and I curled up in the fetal position and couldn't move for at least 10 minutes. I still shiver when I think about it.
I haven't met anyone else with a fear like mine. Most people just laugh and hit their wrists together, just to see my reaction. *shudder*
Oh, and wrist tattoos? I will never understand how anyone could ever want one.
As a kid I was terrified of DoodleBob.
Whenever his episode would come on I would run to the kitchen and hide, peeking every couple minutes to see if the horror was over yet.
I don't know why, but I found him so scary. I couldn't stand his talk, his walk, or his look. Maybe it was because he was a mock-off of the loveable SpongeBob.
With every "'me hoy minoy'" I trembled with fear. With every crazy shriek I screamed on the inside. Every time he flicked that pencil and came up with something new I feared that he would create something even more horrifying than himself.
Looking back now, I actually find it kind of funny and feel a bit stupid that DoodleBob had managed to make me run for the hills.
I have an insane fear that someday I'm going to crash my car - on purpose.
Sometimes, while I'm driving, and I'm being tailgated, I have this incredible urge to slam on my brakes and have the guy behind me plow into me. More often, though, when I see a stopped car in front of me, I want to hit it with mine, just to see what would happen. Even pedestrians, I start to target them before I realize what I'm doing. I want to watch them jump and run away.
Also while driving I get insanely-strong urges to:
- While I'm at a red light, just go, even though there's cross-traffic going.
- Take my hands off the wheel and see how long I can go before I crash.
- Drive into the reservoir. It looks so pretty.
- Close my eyes and see how long I can last.
That last one especially scares me. Once or twice I even started to do it - just closed my eyes for a few seconds before I stop myself.
Butterfly In The Sky...
The fear of butterflies. I don't know exactly why or how I came of to be scared of such innocent and innocuous creatures, but I am afraid of butterflies since childhood and even now at the age of 22! Not to mention how utterly disgusting moths are.
Even seeing a picture of butterfly on internet causes heart palpitations.
Ancient humans have always been afraid of flying creatures, maybe I somehow carried the trait. It is strange and embarrassing at the same time, to be afraid of such things. Generally I am not afraid of insects and reptiles. Neither am I afraid of birds or bats.
But encountering a butterfly really sends chills down my spine and my mouth runs dry. Eww it's so disgusting.
I have a very weird fear. Well, it isn't so much a fear but an aversion. I loathe the very idea of it.
I have a phobia of 'socks'.
It is worse if it is wet socks or dirty socks. Muddy socks. Old socks. Unwashed smelly socks. Socks with threads coming off.
I know that socks won't bite me and they won't band together to attack me or anything. It isn't exactly fear but more like disgust. That doesn't mean I don't run to a completely different corner of the room when I see socks. I just hate them.
I hate the very thought of them.
This phobia is so weird that it doesn't even have a name.
I have a fear of elevators… something about falling down and getting splattered at the bottom. Or even weirder, to go up so fast that it flies out of the roof and falls down the building.
Nowhere Is Safe
I am truly afraid of ants.
When I was 13-ish, my ex-stepdad tried to "toughen me up" by making me help him remove weeds and plant some new plants in the garden without any gloves. He shoveled a large chunk of ground into my hands and I was supposed to place it to the side. It turned out that that particular piece of ground was also an anthill. Not the superficial useless dirt on top of the ground but the actual heart of the thing.
He shoveled an ungodly amount of ants into my unprotected hands and chest. I passed out a bit, then bolted into the shower screaming obscenities to everyone and everything. I ran and stripped naked as fast as humanly possible, got under the frigid water and danced like an octopus doing Capoeira while on meth.
My dad walked in and told me I was a wimp for being afraid of ants. Then, very large, very red and EXTREMELY ITCHY spots appeared on my skin. I ended up having to go to the hospital. That's where we were informed that I am actually highly allergic to ant-bites.
After that debacle, I swear ants hunt me down! They follow me everywhere to finish the job!
One time, I was using the toilet when I noticed a black tiny speck moving up my calf. It was an ant. I looked to my right and there was a literal conga line of ants ambling unto the back of the toilet. They were going for a sneak attack!
Then, I was doing push-ups during martial arts class and an ant bit me on my left hand right between my index finger and middle finger. It swelled up and I could not use my left hand for anything. That single ant bite removes my ability to use that hand for about a week. A clear use of intimidation tactics and psychological warfare to lessen my will to live.
Another time, I saw an ant on top of my foot while I was showering. Rambo Ant hated me so much that it decided to attack me through a literal waterfall of death (to the ant). Rambo Ant risked its own life to attack me when I was most vulnerable — half-asleep, naked and alone.
Last month, I was happily reading under my covers at night when I felt a tiny imp stab my inner thigh. It was an ant. It bit me about 2 inches away from my genitals. The area swelled up and I could not wear underwear for days. The ant could have gone for the money shot but, it did not. It chose not to. It was a warning. The ants were telling me that nowhere is safe. Not my home, not my bathroom, not my bedroom and not my own bed. NOWHERE IS SAFE!!!
I thought my fear was pretty weird, but after reading some of the other answers I feel pretty normal.
I'm terrified of cows; to the point of panic attacks, lots of tears and an awful lot of swearing.
An Extension Of My Mind
I'm afraid of things puncturing my skin, because my skin feels like an extension of my mind. I have to look away and distract myself when I get vaccines. There's no way I could ever inject medicine into myself. I can poke my finger with a pin, but just barely, and it takes all my willpower, and the very outer edge of my finger doesn't count as part of my skin anyway.
Bad news: I'll probably die of something that could have been treated using injected medicine.
I have a certain fear that people would say was weird. I'm afraid of portraits. They make me feel very nervous and self conscious. They're just literally watching me, their eyes following me wherever I go.
I don't like photographs of people looking at the camera, it's as though they're staring back at me. Any magazine, poster or picture of people looking at the camera or at me will make me either leave the room or cover the pictures over.
Flushing toilets. If the toilet isn't flushing it's fine, but every single time I flush the toilet it scares me. I absolutely can NOT flush a toilet in the middle of the night. I like using public washrooms cause flushing a toilet in public is the least nerve wracking for me. Don't know why it freaks me out but it has ever since I was around 7.
If you don't have any experience with construction, it can be pretty interesting to watch those reality HGTV shows (I know I'm addicted at this point). Some of the best episodes can be the one's where they open up the walls to find the builder didn't do anything right, causing a huge blow to the budget. The drama!
As someone who doesn't know much about building, and is dreaming of homeownership, Redditor Vast_Recognition_682 asked a question I wish I had thought of first.
Redditor Vast_Recognition_682 asked:
"Home inspectors of reddit, what are some horrible things that almost went unnoticed?"
Here's some horror stories that shed a little light on the home owner unknowns.
Behind the closet wall.
"Going through a home with [the] home inspector, didn't find any issues, bring my dad in to look through the house too and he was [incessantly] checking everything. Looks at the Zillow listing with the floor plan, measures the basement, finds out the actual measurements smaller than the floor plan which led us to go looking in a closet and realize they finished a wall and closet around the old oil tank, never decommissioned it, never planned to tell anyone about it, and we would have had to rip walls out to get to it to remove it. It was a non starter and we walked away. So happy to have my dad's sharp eye while home shopping."
If you need a good prank idea when you're renovating, here's one:
"I saw a post once, this guy said his dad's house had a diagonal outer wall and he was installing a combination wall and bookshelf to square the room. Since there was a small dead space on one side, the dad (who was a doctor), got a life-size plastic human skeleton from work and tossed it in there."
"So if someone tore the wall out to remodel in 30 years or whatever, they'd see it and freak out."
Man cave mayhem.
"Not a home inspector, but I did ask our home inspector what crazy stuff he had seen over the years. He had two stories."
"He inspected a modest three bedroom house and found that were very strange structural cracks in the walls. The area where the house was built is primarily clay soil which leads to a lot of foundation issues, but these were really abnormal cracks. He headed to the attic to wrap up his inspection; it was located over the garage so there was absolutely no structural support there. He poked his head up into the attic and couldn't believe his eyes: the owner had a fully furnished man cave in the attic over the garage. It had a couch, big screen tv, weight set, and a huge gun safe. He said he had no idea how in the world all of that stuff didn't come crashing down through the garage ceiling or how the guy had managed to get the giant gun safe up there without some sort of elaborate winch system. He said it was only a matter of time before the house collapsed."
"The only other weird thing he encountered was a cistern (an old well) in a crawlspace underneath a house. He said he was crawling along on his stomach when he almost fell into it; it was left uncovered."
A rats nest of wires.
"I'm sure there will be some stories about wiring above drop ceilings. When I was looking at houses, I saw (not the home inspector) one once where like 10 different wires came into one rats nest of a cluster. To make it even better, there was a regular lamp cord that ran from it to power the hanging kitchen light above the table. And if you want whip cream and sprinkles on that.... the power came into that mess through knob and tube."
"I am an apprentice electrician and this comment just made my soul cry."
"I found an uncapped steel conduit with live wires behind my sink while remodeling. There wasn't even a cap on the wires."
"While ripping out our old kitchen we cut the old crappy countertop with a sawzaw, to our surprise saw a spark and blew a breaker. some mother f**kers who previously renovated this kitchen ran the wiring for a new outlet on the wall around the studs in a crevice in the back of the countertop...."
"My family flipped a house a few years ago. There were four ceilings, each a couple inches lower than the one before, and all but one had old wiring in it. It was like cutting into a weird lasagna, trying to find the studs in that house."
"Grandma was shrinking with old age, but her kids didn't want her to realize."
"Not me, but one I spoke to. Place almost passed, until out the corner of his eye... bam... jack stand holding up a beam under the house."
"Same with a house daughter was interested in. The place was a flip and totally redone. Beautiful. And down in the basement was a brick holding up a big beam."
This inspector had a full list.
1. "Furnace exhaust flue inlet at the attic furnace disconnected and a dead bird below it. Would have dumped all the furnace exhaust straight into the attic area. Obvious safety implication."
2. "Long time vacant house in a very secluded area. Reeked of cat p*ss and burnt plastic. No cats or cat feces in sight and no entry point for cats. Found small balloon in the corner of the floor where the fridge would be. Picked it up (with gloves) and white powder came spilling out. We came to the conclusion there was possibly the presence of methamphetamine in the home at some point and in some fashion."
3. "5 year old house, nice neighborhood, great shape, vacant. Everything looked good visually. In the attic, just after it had started raining heavily, a slight but constant drip was noticed from the roof sheathing in one area. Got lucky on that one. Sunny day, there would have been no evidence of any issue whatsoever."
4. "Homeowner DIY replaced the microwave and thought it would be 'clever' to run the exhaust vent into the wall cavity between the kitchen and adjacent laundry room. Just dumped the moisture into the wall. Mold city after a while if you do a lot of cooking while using the exhaust fan."
5. "60s house, well renovated. Range was a gas/electric dual fuel setup. Noticed broiler took forever to even start to warm up and never got hot enough that I couldn't touch it real quick (they usually glow red after like 30 seconds). Found out the range was plugged into a 110v outlet (enough to power the control panel and light) and not the proper 220v outlet (not even present). Oven was essentially useless. That one also had an incomplete drain line from a bathroom sink dumping everything directly into the crawlspace."
6. "New build. Got into the attic and just a quick 360° scan, something was off. Looking closer found a truss web beam that was completely gone, just ripped out (gusset plates bent to hell). Probably knocked out by the framing crews crane or something and they thought no one would notice. Time is money right? Lol"
They saved the day with this good catch!
"I used to work in a hospital, in IT. We were in a back corner of the oldest building. I used an out of the way stairwell, that had a 4 inch cast iron sprinkler main running through it."
"One day when I was leaving, I noticed a little tiny bit of water on the outside of the pipe. I went back to my desk, called maintenance, and asked them to send someone down so I could show them what I noticed. Walked the guy down to the stairwell and showed him, went on home."
"The next day I get to work and there's a letter on my desk. I open it, and it's from the director of maintenance. Seems that they shut down and depressurized the sprinkler line, and when they went to disconnect the section with the leak, the pipe just crumbled. They figured that my call prevented a major flood in materials management (which backed up to the stairwell on the floor below us) as well as a FD call-out, as the alarm would have gone when the pipe ruptured and water started flowing. The director sent me a very nice thank-you, and referred the situation to the cost-saving committee to see if they could get me a bonus based on preventing an accident."
The internet might just save homeowners on a whole lot of money by taking a closer look during the inspection. Thank goodness for this Ask Reddit post shedding light on the horror stories of homeownership and renovation mishaps.
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Unless you've been a member of the armed forces, you may only know drill sergeants as uncompassionate leaders who yell at privates all the time.
War Face GIF Giphy
"Drill instructors, what is the funniest thing you have seen a Private do?"
The following examples were utterly humiliating, but valuable lessons were learned.
"Had 2 guys get in a fight in our bay during basic. The drill sergeant made them hold hands and pretending to be on a date all week. Only time they could let go of each other's hands was rack time. They ended up becoming pretty good friends."
"Ex British Army officer here."
"A corporal went on a nine week mortar course and was accommodated (obviously) while he was away. It turned out he knew one of the DS teaching the course and was invited, regularly, to dine and drink in the Sergeant's Mess."
"The month after coming back from the course, he brought his payslip to me with a puzzled look on his face and, embarrassed, explained he didn't understand what it meant and could I help him?"
"It emerged that the Sergeant's Mess had a chitty system - you didn't pay for your drinks at the time, but signed for them and the total bill was deducted from your pay."
"This legend had managed to drink more than his monthly salary both months he'd been away and his payslip was a negative balance."
"I'm sorry Smith, I'm afraid you owe the Army £235 ($327.50) this month."
Asking For An Advance
"Former European Anti-Air Trainee here."
"Recruit spent his first check on alcohol and sex workers, asked his commander for next months check in advance the next day. Instead of having a good excuse prepared to actually succeed in that proposal he blankly told him in front of 80 other recruits why he'd need it."
"I saw a guy post about how he was like 6'3 and his DS was like 5'2, so whenever he messed up the DS would go up to him face to chest and yell 'Elevator!' and the guy would bend down to eye level with the DS and say 'Ding!' and the DS would proceed to look him in the eye while he chewed him out."
Some experiences were downright hilarious.
"Not an RDC, but in boot camp I was over the laundry crew. One recruit sh*t himself because he thought he couldn't leave his rack after taps. It was funny at the moment before I realized I had to wash it."
"This was the funniest f'king thing I ever read from u/odomotto"
"Recruit fired all his blank ammo during 'ambush training.' He crawled in ditch opposite where the aggressors were, and started throwing rocks at them. DI came running in middle of the road blowing his whistle and screaming 'what the f'k are you doing?' Recruit screamed back, 'throwing hand grenades drill sergeant!' Without missing a beat, the DI screamed 'out f'king standing.' And walked away."
"My sides hurt and I was wheezing laughing so hard at this when I first heard it!"
These punishments made no sense. And that's why they're memorable.
"When I was in basic, a kid we called 'Albino' shot off a blank round accidentally in the field. The sergeants were pissed and took his weapon away and replaced it with a broomstick for the remainder of the week in the field."
"Man I remember some dude didn't put the sheet on his bunk the right way and had to wear the sheet as a cloak and go to all the other barracks dancing around sing about how he was the 'Catch Edge Fairy' or something. It was pretty silly, he owned it though. He was doing twirls the whole time. This was Navy bootcamp."
Despite how they are depicted on film, drill instructors are people who care.
Like, Beals – a drill sergeant at Fort Knox, Kentucky – who said:
"We provide more than just physical, mental and emotional guidance for them. You are a father, a preacher, a financial advisor, a counselor-you provide so many different services to the Soldier that the regular public doesn't see on day to day basis."
"They see what they see in movies and what they hear about by word of mouth. But you are fulfilling so many roles other than just being a trainer and teaching an individual how to be a Soldier in the Army."
And occasionally, they are having a laugh at the crazy things their trainees do.
Sometimes, it becomes extremely clear that it's time to leave.
That goes for short term situations like a bizarre social moment, or longer term commitments like work or relationships.
Whatever the context, there is typically a tipping point moment when all the variables appear to suggest things have become unsafe, wildly uncomfortable, or maybe even a tad illegal.
It's those moments when all you can think about is the door.
Redditor Thotus_Maximus asked:
"What was your biggest 'I'm out' moment?"
Many people talked about the times they went to parties that turned out to be very different from what they had in mind.
"Went to a friend of a friend's 35th birthday party. There were like 3 people there when we showed up. Birthday boy says everyone's in the basement. Okay cool."
"We go down to the basement. Someone's DJing, they've got cool lighting, there's like 30 people dancing. After a minute or 2 we realize everyone in the basement is like 13. Nope Nope Nope."
THAT Kinda Party
"Lived in a hotel for a while when I was 18-19. One day a bunch of people I've met at the pool wanted to go up to this dudes room and party. I thought we were gonna drink, smoke, and have a conversation, but that's not how it went."
"While everyone went up there, I had to go back to my room and change clothes. When I finally went to join them, I walked in and saw this dude injecting hard drugs. I sh** you not, this dude turned completely blue and dropped to the ground like a rock. When I saw that, I just dipped."
"He got picked up by an ambulance and survived. When I saw him in the elevator the next day, he seemed like a completely different person. Seein' stuff like that (that wasn't my first time witnessing od's), I think kept me away from the drugs that can kill you easily."
The Great Escape
"I was at a party when I was a teen. Cops turned up. I was stuck upstairs. But there was a balcony and underneath a pool. And beyond the pool a gate leading to an alley."
"So I jumped in the pool."
"But when I resurfaced there were already two cops standing there looking at me."
Other Redditors recalled the times they encountered strangers that did not appear to have their best interest at heart, to say the least.
"Was approached by someone and we talked about how we went to the same college and I showed him some of my art work, he thought it was pretty cool and offered me an opportunity and wanted to talk more later because I was at work at the time."
"I met up with him and his girlfriend and he told about what he mentioned. As I say there listening, it sounded familiar and BAM! It hit me. It was a pyramid scheme, it had nothing to do with art or any job prospects, I told him I wasn't interested many times in the nicest way possible l, but boy did they look pi**ed."
"I got stuck in an airport overnight as my flight was cancelled due to weather and I was starving because all the stores were closed. Some employee offered to show me where to get food so I followed him."
"He then opened a door to outside in the parking lot and motioned outside. I quickly said 'no thanks' and walked away."
And finally, some talked about when it became very clear that their work situation needed to end, like yesterday.
Quotas Reign Supreme
"I got buried by heavy packages while loading a truck for Fedex. It took 3 people to get me out. I was bloody, bruised, and had trouble lifting my arm."
"My manager came over and chastised me for my package count being too low. Walked out immediately."
Leaving Him a Stressful Day
"I worked in a contact centre several years ago. It was super busy and calls didn't stop coming. For some reason, my stupid boss removed everyone else from the queue for some stupid training, leaving me alone to handle all the calls. I messaged him a few times on Microsoft Teams, asking what was happening with no reply."
"After two hours, I shut down my computer and walked out of the company. I just recently withdrawn my last salary, so no regret whatsoever."
Corruption At Its Finest
"I worked for a blood analysis lab machine company for about 6 months. Hated every minute of it because I was working well over 60 hours a week every week. I wouldn't be leaving some hospitals until after 11pm sometimes. The management would never support the techs, the customer is always right, that BS."
"So one week at during the over the phone team meeting, the manager actually asked on of the younger techs to complete paperwork and submit it. Which is normal, but the manager was having him submit the repair paperwork and schedule the repair when they got around to it. He wanted the tech to pencil whip documentation we submit to the FDA so he could a quarterly bonus."
"Managers who's group hits all the pm's, gets a very nice size check. Had the tech done that and the machine failed before it was serviced, somebody could have died and he might have gone to jail. I left that job the next day."
Out With a Bang
"I walked out of a job two hours into a shift and left them without anyone who could do my job."
"As a parting gift, I threw the manual I'd written in the rubbish and didn't bother removing or giving anyone my passwords to stuff so they couldn't do anything."
Years ago I had a classmate who was a total daredevil... so much so that he would often injure himself. He once drove a bike in the direction of oncoming traffic, just for the hell of it. He got out of that episode unscathed––luckily. By contrast, I prefer keeping all my limbs, and still have them all. I wonder where he is now. Hopefully not too banged up. I did do some stuff unwittingly––like the time I stuck a fork into an electrical socket. I thankfully wasn't shocked too much. I was young and naive.
People told us all about the dangerous things they did when they were younger after Redditor Not-an-Ocelot asked the online community,
"What's the most dangerous thing you did as a kid without realizing?"
"My chore was to wash the floors. I would mix all sorts of chemicals together, not realizing they don't mix. Like bleach and ammonia with other cleaning products."
This is very easy to do––and so dangerous! Thankfully you didn't harm yourself.
"I used to walk..."
"I used to walk on a frozen river when walking home from school. I was about 7 at the time."
Seen too many movies about people stuck under the ice.
"We would sneak up..."
"I used to do parkour. We would sneak up onto the rooftops of condo buildings when they were washing their windows (the staircases leading to the top floor would be unlocked). We would then go roof hopping.
Literal roof hopping like in Grand Theft Auto. We would jump from a 12 storey apartment building's roof to an adjacent 10 storey apartment building's roof, etc."
How are your knees? That's bound to do some damage, no?
"I picked up..."
"I picked up a baby copperhead snake and gave it to my mom as a present when I was 6 or 7."
You must have really hated your mom.
"There was a railway crossing..."
"There was a railway crossing on my walk to school, and the train would often be blocking my path so I would always wait until it stopped moving and then climb on top of it and jump off the other side so I could keep walking and not be late."
"Played inside an old broken refrigerator that was outside….not knowing it could have locked or tipped over."
Yes, it could have! Thankfully it didn't. There's a really frightening scene in The Leftovers involving a character who nearly suffocates in a fridge.
No thank you.
"Like most Florida kids..."
"Like most Florida kids I swam where I shouldn't have and I'm very lucky I didn't get eaten by alligators."
"After seeing videos..."
"Playing with fireworks. After seeing videos of kids blowing their fingers and hands off, I would never let my kids play with them, without lots of supervision."
"We are super lucky..."
"Getting on a boat with my then-boyfriend and not telling our parents where we were going. The boat ended up sinking during a storm and we had life jackets and floated on the ice chest. Only reason we are alive is because a ship that was coming in heard us screaming during the storm and called the coast guard. We were out there for a total of 15 hours and had severe hypothermia. We are super lucky to be alive."
This is pretty terrifying.
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
Yes, thankfully, you're alive.
"When I was about..."
"When I was about 9 or 10 a friend and I rode an air mattress down a river. Neither of us knew how to swim and we didn't tell our parents so when we came back cops were looking for us."
Well... these were a read.
If you'll excuse me, I'll stay indoors and wrap myself in bubble wrap. The outside world is scary.
Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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