The only thing we have to fear is….plummeting to our deaths.
The only thing we have to fear is….plummeting to our deaths.

The only thing we have to fear is….plummeting to our deaths.

One of my last Toast speeches was about fear – and getting over it.

The top two search terms that bring people to this blog are arachnophobia and anthropophobia.

This makes me a little sad. I’d rather people found me by looking for awesome shoes, or paranormal romance book reviews (new one coming up on Wednesday! Woo!) or race reports, or cheesemaking (especially cheesemaking).


But – back to fear. I used to be relatively fearless. Nothing really scared me. The older I got, the more fearful I became, until there were times (I like to pretend that these are in the past) that the fear was so paralyzing that I couldn’t leave the house. Those times are mostly in the past. I have spent a lot of time in the past couple of years working through my fears and trying to conquer them.

I know I’ve talked about my fear of open water swimming (which was actually the crux of my Toast speech). I now barely even have an elevated heartrate when getting in the water. As long as I take my time, I’m fine. I actually have even really enjoyed my last couple of swims.

I know I’ve also talked about my fear of public speaking.  Obviously, I’ve gotten over this. I just gave my 7th prepared speech for my local Toastmasters, have won a Table Topics contest, am president of my club, and am entering the humorous speech contest next month.

I’ve also mentioned my fear of people & social situations (anthropophobia). This is the one that is the hardest for me. There are times that I can’t go to social events because the thought of doing so gives me mini panic attacks. Fortunately, this is not as bad as it used to be, and as long as the social event is in a setting I’m comfortable in (i.e. not too many strangers packed into small rooms), I usually do okay. I never even have to pre-drink to hang out with my friends anymore. GROWTH!

I’ve talked about my fear of spiders, which is dumb. They are just little bugs that eat other bugs. WHY ARE THEY SO FREAKING CREEPY? No one knows. ACK. Anyways, I am not over this, nor do I particularly work on this one. It doesn’t really affect my ability to live my life, so I’ve decided it’s okay.

I’m afraid of flying (actually, that’s not true. I’m fine with flying. I’m just afraid of plummeting to my death, which seems more likely in an airplane than while walking). I deal with this by drinking in the airport bar. Or doing deep breathing exercises.

But today, I want to talk about another fear I’ve mentioned. This is also related to plummeting to my death. I am afraid of going over high bridges.  Especially long, high bridges. I’ve worked through this fear a LOT, since I live in Portland, city of 1,000,000 bridges (or like 10 if you count all car bridges b/w the St. Johns & the Sellwood). I can drive over the high bridges if I go really fast & close my eyes. (ha! I jest. I go slow and with my eyes open. Less likely to plunge to my death if I watch where I’m going.) I am not afraid of walking or running over said bridges, and have, in fact done so. But biking is even scarier than driving, I think. I once rode over the St. Johns Bridge, and I swear my heart rate was higher for that portion of the ride than any other part – due to fear.

One thing I have never done is ride my bike across the Columbia River. There are only two bridges in the Portland area that cross the river (not counted in my 10 bridges above). They are both Interstate Bridges.

There is the Glenn Jackson (I-205) Bridge:


And the I-5 Bridge (apparently this one doesn’t have a fancy name):

I was terrified  of riding over these bridges. Earlier this week, the Ambitious One asked me if I wanted to go on a bike ride with her & Mr. Pi on Friday morning. They are going an insane 84 miles (up to the Bridge of the Gods, which I’m pleased to not ride over). I am not so much up to 84 miles, since my longest one-day total in 2011 is 20 miles, and that was my bike commute on Wednesday, so broken into 2 parts.

I did, however, agree to ride a little ways with them – up to the 205 bridge. And then, I found the route to ride over, back west on the Washington side, and then across the I-5 bridge and home. Up until the minute we got to 205, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. BUT, I did it. It was not as scary as I thought, but it was longer than I’d anticipated.

I got a little lost in Vancouver, but had my phone (with the Google Maps app) and found my way again. Crossing back to Oregon on the I-5 bridge was also a little nerve-wracking, and I got lost on Hayden Island and tried to ride back to Vancouver again, but eventually made it home.

I’m still not fast. I was definitely faster on the first half of the ride when I was with people. The last three miles were brutal. My longest all-in-a-row ride before today was 15 miles, and I doubled that. My legs were wiped out by mile 27. BUT, I did it. And honestly, I think I could do it again.

Fuck, yeah!



  1. Jen

    Great job in the ride!! I’m so proud of you for ALL this stuff- you have come a long way! Soon you will be giving a speech high above a room crowded with spiders. Or something. 🙂

  2. I love you extra hard for this post. I don’t think I knew some of these things about you! I have the world’s worst social anxiety. I can relate to pre-drinks before meeting friends. Also, my fear of public speaking can’t even be discussed, as the mere thought of it makes me want to snort a line of valium. Bridges also terrified me. Whenever I’m in a car I have to actively focus on just getting over the bridge. As a child I used to clench my butt, shut my eyes and plug my ears because as anyone with this phobia knows, you can actually hear the difference between being on a bridge and being on a solid road surface.
    This entire comment is only highlighting the fact that I need therapy.
    Anyway, I’m proud of you! You have, indeed, come a long way!

  3. I, at 40, have NEVER gotten over my fear of public speaking. I loath it. And the only thing that is stopping me from trying a tri is my ridiculous fear of the bike.

    Which means that at some point, I’ll probably try one. And maybe puke. Or crash.

    1. I absolutely recommend joining Toastmasters. For real. It’s a great group, they won’t make you speak in public until you’re ready, it’s a supportive environment, and in addition to helping you get over the fear, they help you develop good speaking & leadership skills.

      I have actually vomited before having to speak in public before (college presentations), so I know from public speaking fear.

      Now, I enjoy it! I’m not saying that you’ll start to love it & become a paid motivational speaker or anything, but it’s definitely nice to not have it be crippling. 🙂

  4. Kristen

    That is so awesome about your public speaking!! I should really look into Toastmasters. I have no fear of “public speaking” per se if I am giving announcements, reading something someone else wrote, etc I just hate it when it is my own work.

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