The problem is most of what I've ever done in my life is motivated by fear. It's like a big dust storm of fear, and you're asking me to pick out 10 little motes or something. And then of course there's all the fears that you don't even realize that you have. I once went to this anesthesiologist slash therapist who used the technique where he would put you under just to the point where you would have no memory of what you said and it would be unmediated by anything social.
I went in there for various complaints about work and the way I live my life. And then, when I went under, the first thing I said was, “I can't sleep unless the kids are home.” And the kids are 33 years old.
That is not something that I'm aware of continually. But it was the first thing that came out of my mouth after the drugs started to work. In our pre-drug discussion he said, “Well you know there are certain things you can't control,” and I said, “Of course I know that. What do you think, I'm nuts?” And then, under the drug, he said, “You know there are things that you can’t control,” and I said, “Not true! I can control it if I just focus hard enough!”
One. Fear that something bad will happen to my kids.
Two. Fear that something bad will happen to Fred.
Three. Fear that I will be revealed as an imposter. I know a lot of people have that.
Four. Fear of failure. You know, when I started as a reporter, I didn't really know anything at all about journalism. I would leave with my boss, you know, at six thirty or so, and it was in Washington and I'd go down the Dupont Circle subway, and when he was out of range I would go back to the office and get driven home by Melvin who operated the elevator in that building, and he was off at 1:00. I sort of snuck around like this because I didn't want him to know how hard I was struggling to figure out how to write a lede and how to organize things. That degree of, you know, working-through-the-night-thing. I mean, if I could choose, it wouldn't be my process, but I've always worked full-bore. Not because I love it, but because of fear.
Five. Fear of loss of control. I have a kind of long-standing, age-old fear of finding myself broke and sitting on a curb with a bottle of Thunderbird in a brown paper bag.
Seven. And this is a big one: boredom. So much in my life has been motivated by boredom. I make choices based on this terrible fear of boredom. The second that I get bored I start to screw up as a way to remove myself from the situation that is boring me.
Eight. Fear of running out of time. I have a lot to learn about how to live before I die. I mean, everything that is good in my life... my life is so good, and it is a tragedy, but even more it's a crime, it's practically immoral that I can't see that every moment of every day.
Nine. Fear that I will never conquer being afraid.
Number ten. I know the numbers tell us that this is a kinder, better, place than it's ever been. But I fear that the democratic experiment may be coming to an unsuccessful conclusion. And this brings me back to fear number one. I'm really scared about what's going to happen to the kids.
It's interesting, once I asked Margaret Atwood, who's a number of years older than I am, isn't she worried about what's going on with the environment. And she said, “You know, it's funny, people are always asking me if I'm worried. Sure, I'm worried what's going to happen to people, but there's nothing I can do anymore. So what's the point in being worried.”
Well there's something to strive for when I get to my 70s.
I'm Brooke Gladstone. And here are 10 things that scare me.