Spiders have always been something that I’ve been afraid of. I don’t know whether it was just engrained into my brain to be terrified of them, as it seems to be for many children, but for some reason ever since I can remember they have scared me. I’ve always had this unexplainable, irrational fear of them. Just thinking of them makes my skin crawl and I feel as if they’re walking all over me.
Despite this, however, they have always sort of fascinated me. I’ve heard the phrase “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them!” repeated to me over and over again as if this was actually a helpful thing to say. Do I really care how much the disturbing creatures fear me? They terrify me, but it’s all good because it’s a mutual terror. No. I really could not care less how scared they are of me, because in no way does that cancel out my fear.
When I was younger I always used to write short stories. None of them were particularly good, or particularly memorable, but one that I remember writing was about from a spider’s point of view. He lived under the bath with a bunch of other spiders, and was the biggest and boldest spider of them all. One day, he decided to leave his family to explore the house. However, while on his travels he was caught, and, well, killed by a human. It’s quite a common, everyday thing – we see a spider, we kill it. But in the story it was rather tragic.
Thinking back, it was a really bizarre thing for a child who was terrified of spiders to write. It wasn’t particularly well written, in fact, I don’t think I ever finished it, but I always knew the plotline, and how it would end. Considering my hatred of the arachnid, it was unusual that I would attempt to write a story making people feel guilt over an action that I would have encouraged.
Random? Yes, a little. But this brings me to today. I had an exam, so naturally, I was in a bit of a stressed rush, running round my room attempting to find pens and rulers. But just as I was picking up my bag and my iPod in preparation for my departure, I saw this spider. Naturally, I immediately jumped on to my bed and shrieked – only quietly, however, which I feel as a testament to my self control. Or maybe it was just the fear of my older brother killing me for waking him up over an admittedly quite small spider.
What I remember, however, is that when I jumped, it backed away, and we both just stood there in a kind of stare off. It eventually seemed to deem it safe and started to move forwards. I slammed my foot down on the bed to scare it, and it backed away again. Call me an overemotional fool if you will, but at this moment, my heart went out to that spider. As it backed away, it just looked so scared. It sounds crazy, because, obviously, how can a little black insect with no obvious face show any emotion? But it was just the way the quick, panicked movement seemed to reflect my own that really got me.
Anyway, I had an exam to get to, so I jumped over the area where the spider was and went to school. But while I was rambling on about corrie lochs, limestone pavements and changes in the CBD of Glasgow, my mind occasionally strayed back to the little spider that was probably currently roaming around my room without my permission.
A seemingly inconsequential moment, but it got me thinking. A lot of us live our lives in fear of something that is probably harmless. Fear of the unknown, fear of people we’ve never met, or even just fear of little bugs that have never done anything to us. I’m going to be completely honest, in my head I related it to the Death Eaters in Harry Potter – I know what you’re thinking, but just stick with me. The Death Eaters were prejudiced towards muggle-borns because they were born from muggles. (For any non-Harry Potter fans, a muggle is a non-magical person.) They were scared of the unknown, of what was unusual to them. So instead of trying to discover and understand them, they lashed out and attacked and ridiculed them.
The same thing occurs regularly in society. Years ago, people decided that being black was unnatural because their skin was a different colour from ours. It still happens today, but when we first met black people, it was unusual and unknown. You see it in white children – when they see a black person, they will often ask why their skin is that colour. They don’t realise that they’re just the same as us on the inside. They’re unusual and unknown and that scares us.
The future is another example of this fear of the unknown. We don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, and that is absolutely terrifying for us because we are not in control of the situation. We don’t know how our lives are going to map out and that is scary. I hate the idea that I don’t know what university I’m going to go to, what job I’ll get, if and who I marry, if I have children and if so how many? There are so many unanswered questions – but truly, if we did know the answers, what would be the point in the ride? If you know the end of a book, why do we read the rest of it? So yes, the future is scary, and change is scary, and the unknown is scary but it’s also exciting, because it’s unknown – anything could happen!
I’m not saying that spiders are the same to us on the inside. Because I highly doubt they are. But they most certainly look different. I’m also not saying that inside, spiders are wonderful creatures, because you know, they’re still just bugs. They probably do not have the cure to cancer or access to a renewable source of energy, and are just waiting for the right time to tell us. And I’m not suddenly immune to all fear of the bug. In fact, the thought of that little spider still wandering around my room somewhere is a terrifying thought. The idea that it could be crawling over me when I go to sleep tonight makes me want to go and sleep in a different room. But maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. I mean, spiders can’t be that bad, can they? They’re just trying to live life, like we are. And if that involves invading our homes (breaking and entering, anyone?) then maybe that’s just something I have to learn to deal with. The unknown is scary, but if we just wait to get to know it and experience it…to try and understand it, then maybe it won’t be so bad.
Who knows, we might actually end up enjoying ourselves. So go out and live your lives. Try not to waste your life worrying about what is going to happen. Try to stop being so consumed with fear that it stops you from enjoying certain activities. Even if that fear just revolves around that little spider.