Bad Girl, Good Business

Fear Factors: What Freaks Us Out at Every Age?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have vivid memories of lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, at about age 4 or 5.

I had been reading Charlotte’s Web and had convinced myself that hundreds of spiders were parachuting down and landing on my wide-eyed face. I also didn’t care much for clowns, ventriloquist dummies,  and some of the creepy men at my synagogue. Shy and insecure, I feared bullying and disappointing my teachers.

As I got a little older, I dreaded gym class — especially jumping over the horse (which I couldn’t do).

In my 20’s and 30’s my fears morphed into (in no particular order) missing deadlines at school and work, dying in a plane crash while on a business trip, and getting fired or publicly humiliated by my boss. I was also afraid of skiing black diamond runs. But then I did one, and it was actually OK. My limbs are still attached.

Financial and health fears escalated along with my age and, as a mother, I always worry about my kids (but that was a mild anxiety hum rather than a full-on panic). As an entrepreneur, I sometimes have (usually irrational) fears about my skills and pipeline.

The point of all that spew is…

We are all afraid of something, whether or not we admit it. And those fears change over time. Some people are afraid of change. That’s called metathesiophobia. Lots of phobias have names. (If you’re anxiety-prone, you may not even want to click on that list, although I don’t think an actual fear of lists is a thing.)

Fear of failure (also known as atychiphobia) can hold you back from taking calculated risks or trying new approaches or experiences.

In recent years, social media gave rise to a whole new fear category (FOMO or fear of missing out). The pandemic birthed FOGO (fear of going out).

But only by acknowledging and overcoming our fears can we begin to grow — in business and in life. That’s not always an easy thing to do. The first article below has some great suggestions from mental health professionals (as opposed to random bloggers who majored in Psychology).

But despite my lack of professional qualifications, I do know that if you commit to overcoming your fears, realize you’re not alone, and follow advice from experts, fear (and its impact on your health, sleep, and general well-being) can subside with age and experience.

That said, I’m still not a big fan of spiders (arachnophobia) and clowns (coulrophobia) and am grateful that my current profession doesn’t involve circus performers, ventriloquists, or regular excursions to the Amazon Rainforest, where some of the world’s largest creatures reside.

BGGB.OkeyDokey-fred Don’t be afraid to read this article. It’s really helpful!
BGGB_ShakingHands Social anxiety versus FOGO (and what to do about it)

The impact of fear on your body

BGGB_Pointer Fears to overcome if you want to succeed in business





  1. Thanks for these great resources as well as your transparency in sharing your fears/anxieties/phobias! I have my own, thought there’s some overlap with yours!
    I look forward to reading more of your work!
    Many Blessings,

  2. Thanks for a great essay and wonderful resources.

    Remember Kukla, Fran, and Ollie? A sock puppet that might have been a dragon, a cheery clown hand puppet, and a nice lady. Who was I afraid of? Not the dragon. The clown. I still remember running behind Grandpa’s recliner and hiding. And I remember the adults laughing.

    Nowadays, I’m bats give me the heebie-jeebies, and I’m afraid a tree might fall on my car while I’m driving. (Based on it actually happening to someone else during rush-hour traffic.

    I, like many others, am afraid to speak in public, too. But, practice has diminished that greatly.

  3. Super post, Nancy! Great resources!
    You made me think about how my fears have morphed over the years. Let’s just say I no longer fear a giant gorilla reaching for me as I hide under the dining room table…
    Now the gorillas are fully visible and usually standing at a podium trying to win my vote…
    Thank you for this!


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