Andrew Zhu

On (Un)Substantiated Fears



World events.

On (Un)Substantiated Fears

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, for the human mind, if nothing else, is characterized by ingenuity and craft, and the limits of imagination are boundless, more so if writing by oneself, alone, late at night staring out of the window into the dark. 

Disclaimer: No AskReddit threads were read in the course of creating this list!


• Falling down on an ice rink with fingers splayed out in the direct path of another skater’s blades.

• Riding in a subway car passing in a tunnel beneath a body of water – cracks in the foundation widen.

• Raining bullets from the sky during a particularly celebratory Independence Day.

• Changing lanes on the highway as a driver two lanes over swerves suddenly into the same lane.

• Staying home alone late at night and hearing a rapping, tapping at the front door.

• Riding on a roller coaster and haphazardly sticking out your limbs in the excitement, but there is insufficient clearance.

• Setting alarms for an important meeting on the eve of Daylight Savings, but your clocks neglect to spring forward an hour.

• Developing sudden anaphylactic reaction to a previously delicious, favorite food.

• Working with super glue and then rubbing your eyes accidentally, getting the glue all up in your eyeballs.

• Sneezing and holding your breath so hard that your eyeballs pop out and your eardrums rupture.

• Camping in the middle of nowhere and hearing voices out in the darkness.

• Nearing completion of writing up a paper and the program suddenly crashes without any backup saved.

• Looking out of a window late at night and seeing a pair of eyes staring back at you.

• Getting bitten by a rabid bat while sleeping and developing a sudden fear of water months down the road.

• Peering out from the airplane window during a turbulent flight and seeing debris break off from the wing.

• Standing on the balcony of a high-rise and having a sudden gust of wind knock you off your feet.

• Gazing up at the bright blue sky and having a dollop of pigeon excreta land in your eye.

• Sticking your hand out of a closing elevator to hold it for someone but the door does not stop closing.

• Staring into the mirror and seeing someone you do not recognize.



Uncertainty and fear are two wicked bedfellows, and without check, they grow unhindered and gnaw at one’s ability to affect action, will, and purpose in life. As I have already made a sizeable list of unsubstantiated fears, it would be folly, unproductive, and wholly derivative to make such a list yourself; fall not into the trap of ruminating on fear, for that is a maze that Theseus himself would have difficulty in navigating. Rather, I would very much like to see an analogous list of what brings you confidence, contentment, and laughter!


Strange times are these that we live in now, though this phrase may be uttered in sincerity by any person throughout all of history. So, perhaps Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it best, in the midst of worldwide economic turmoil, with his steadying fireside proclamation: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”