Halloween hang-ups: Fears range from relatable to ridiculous

Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton, for example, has a fear of antique furniture while Grammy-winner Adele is afraid of seagulls.

Jessica McMullen stands next to a monitor Monday, Oct. 28, at Central Lakes College. The 34-year-old yoga instructor from Brainerd has a bachelor’s degree in finance but is contemplating a career switch, which scares her. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Everybody is afraid of something -- right? But what frightens someone may come as a surprise.

Some phobias are common and relatable, such as a fear of flying, public speaking or snakes, while others are arguably irrational, idiosyncratic and downright bizarre.

Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton, for example, has a fear of antique furniture while Grammy-winner Adele is afraid of seagulls.

But what really scares some people in the Brainerd lakes area? It comes down to the individual, and Halloween is the perfect time to find out.

“Spiders -- oh, my God! I don’t know where it started for me, but there’s just something that’s always creepy to me about them,” Shayla Makowski-Budrow said.


The 17-year-old Brainerd resident is not afraid of taking charge as president of Central Lakes College’s student senate but is afraid of, among other things, arachnids.

“Everyone always tells me they fear us more,” she said. “They always told me spiders cannot bite. But then one time, a spider came down from a tree and bit me.”

Makowski-Budrow said she would probably sprint past a spider if she saw one or have someone kill the creature.

“I feel bad about killing animals and stuff like that, but they are all right,” she said of killing the eight-legged creatures.

Adrian Santana said he is most afraid of losing his mother or his sister. The 21-year-old Brainerd resident said he grew up in a close-knit family.

“It was just us, so those were the only people that I could rely on,” Santana said.

Because of Makowski-Budrow’s Native American culture, she said losing a loved one is a fear that she also shared with Santana while a fear of dying is practically universal.

“Family is pretty much everything to us … so losing someone is a big loss,” said Makowski-Budrow, who is Ojibwe Anishinaabe.


She said she considers not just blood-related American Indians as “family” but also Native Americans who are not related directly by blood because they comprise a small demographic.

Fear can serve a practical purpose. It is the body’s way of alerting a person to potentially dangerous situations or environments, and the risk of physical injury or emotional harm.

Jessica McMullen is the director of the Lakes Area Yoga Association at the Franklin Arts Center. She took up yoga more than a decade ago as a form of pain relief from scoliosis.

McMullen said she worries about paying the bills while paying college tuition and is a little afraid of doing something different later in life.

“I’m still trying to figure that out,” McMullen said of following her dream, whatever that may be. “I’m taking a definite shift in my career path.”

The 34-year-old yoga instructor from Brainerd has a bachelor’s degree in finance.

“I did it for 15 years and then a little voice inside me said, ‘This just isn’t for you anymore.’ My heart wasn’t there, so I’m trying something new,” she said of attending Central Lakes College. “It’s scary, but I’m also trying to learn to just trust that it will all work out OK.”

Crystal McCormick, a 26-year-old mother of two and also a community college student from Crosby, said she is not a fan of Halloween.


“I am terrified of the dark, but I like to bring my kids out trick-or-treating,” she said.

McCormick’s fear can be traced back to her childhood and is not an irrational fear, like coulrophobia, or a fear of clowns, or pteronophobia, a fear of being tickled by feathers.

“I have been through some things in my life that have caused some post-traumatic stress. I avoid the dark. … If I have to travel in the dark, I try not to replay the scenarios in my head,” said McCormick, who was sexually abused by someone who was not a family member.

“My daughter is afraid of spiders, and I just tell her to express her fear, that her feelings are valid, so she should express it in any way she feels fit because it’s sometimes hard for a 4-year-old to express how they feel.”

Celebrity phobias

  • Oprah, chewing gum.

  • Tyra Banks, dolphins.

  • Alfred Hitchcock, eggs.

  • Nicole Kidman, butterflies.

  • Matthew McConaughey, revolving doors.

  • Andy Roddick, rabbits.

  • Christina Ricci, indoor plants.

Source: BuzzFeed

Shayla Makowski-Budrow writes on a dry erase board Monday, Oct. 28, about Central Lakes College’s Halloween party. The 17-year-old Brainerd resident and president of Central Lakes College’s student senate has arachnophobia or a fear of spiders. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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