The Mighty Logo

27 'Embarrassing' Fears People With Anxiety Face

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

It’s normal for children to fear the proverbial monster under the bed — but what if this fear persists into your 20s, 30s and beyond? Even though we associate having “silly” fears with being young, for people with anxiety, these fears can linger. Even as an adult, you can fear everyday things others don’t find frightening at all. And this can be embarrassing.

Maybe the fear isn’t “age appropriate,” or you know logically it doesn’t make sense. Maybe this fear stems from childhood trauma, and others can’t understand why you can’t just “get over it.” If you have fears you’re embarrassed of, you’re not alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

To see what fears people have that still embarrass them, we reached out to people in our mental health community. If you have one of these fears, please know you’re not alone. We can’t heal from fears we’re ashamed of, and owning them can be a great first step.

Here’s what they shared with us:

  1. “Driving. It’s real fun explaining to people why I’m almost 25 and don’t have a license.” — Natalie V.
  2. “I can’t do anything alone. Even simple errands and tasks are hard for me. I always try to get someone to come with me to do things. It can be hard to even work myself up to leave the house if I don’t have someone to come with me.” — Hannah M.
  3. I hate ringing up to reschedule appointments. That’s a major fear I have. If I’m not mentally or physically up to something, I just can’t. It’s embarrassing because at 28 years old you’d think simple tasks would be easy, and they’re not.” — Sarah C.
  4. Vomiting. I hate when other people vomit and if I feel sick to my stomach, it causes panic attacks. Funnily enough, anxiety also causes me to have stomach aches so I create a nice vicious circle sometimes.” — Megan M.
  5. “Sleeping at other people’s houses. I can’t sleep away from my own environment because I fear I will be trapped there. It stems from when I was a kid and I wasn’t allowed to go home when I got scared at a sleepover. So now as an adult that same fear exists even though I have free will to leave whenever I want.” — Megan K.
  6. “Interacting with people because I am always thinking they are judging me.” — Lillian A.
  7. I am afraid of being apart from my husband for more than a day. He understands my anxiety so much and I’m afraid I’ll have a panic attack and be alone and have to suffer by myself. It’s so embarrassing. I am too embarrassed to tell anyone because I’m afraid they’ll think I’m clingy and if I tried to explain it, they wouldn’t understand. It’s embarrassing to admit it to myself even.” — Liz T.
  8. “I get really anxious when it comes to social interactions and I feel like everyone hates me. It’s embarrassing because it’s something that makes me feel unworthy, like it should be obvious that my friends and family don’t hate me, but my mind tells me otherwise. It’s an internal struggle I’m learning to get through.” — Rylee E.
  9. “It’s nearly impossible for me to make a phone call. It might be ridiculous to some, but it’s real to me and frightening. I have to practice what I want to say and I’m still afraid I’m going to stumble over my words… my boyfriend has to make a lot of calls for me.” — Marcie P.
  10. “Fear that I’ll have a panic attack in public. Fear that people will find out how scared I can be of everything. That I always feel like I don’t know what I’m doing and everyone will know I’ve been faking it all this time.” — Michelle S. 
  11. “Public restrooms. I cannot use a public toilet if other people are in the bathroom. I will be trying to go and someone will walk in and my body will not go until the other person has left. (People who talk on the phone while in the bathroom are even worse than people just using the bathroom) This has caused me UTIs and accidents. I have stopped going to places that don’t have single toilet restrooms or family bathrooms available. This fear extends to other peoples’ houses. I can’t stay places long because unless I am very, very comfortable with the person who’s house I’m at.” — Billikay P.
  12. “My house at night. When I’m laying down for bed, I hear the house settle or furnace/air kick on and it’s automatically someone breaking in the house or someone walking. I can even hear my dog’s tag rattle and my brain will make it out to be some alarming sound. I know these sounds and I try to tell myself it’s just the dog or furnace or whatever it really is, but my anxiety gets the best of me. I hate to admit it because it comes across like I’m scared of the dark.” — Amanda W.
  13. “Unexpected visitors. As much as I want to be that friend with an open door policy, if someone knocks on the door to visit, drop something off or hang out without notice, I have a full-blown panic attack. I worry about if my house is clean enough, do I look OK, do I have drinks for guests, what if I want them to leave? It’s debilitating and difficult when I so desperately want close friendships or family relationships.” — Amanda M.
  14. “The sound of my own breathing. I’m hyperaware of it and worry that I’m wheezing or breathing too heavily. Which of course, triggers my anxiety and causes an attack to come on where I am really wheezing. A fun cycle, really.” — Shelley A.
  15. “Ugh, bridges.” — Trista B.
  16. When the sun starts going down I get a trapped feeling and get panic attacks.” — Taunia M.
  17. “Waking someone else up with my alarms. I’m so worried they will get mad over it. I’ve made myself late by not using alarms if I think it will bother someone else.” — Allison H.
  18. “That bugs will crawl up my vagina in my sleep. How is that not embarrassing?” — Lizzy H.
  19. Fear of touching the hand rails on the bus. Germs, germs, germs.” — Karla H.
  20. “Going on down escalators. I can do it only if I’m not tired or stressed or sick or being hurried.” — Krista J.
  21. “Swallowing. Sometimes my anxiety makes it hard to swallow. It’s embarrassing when I am out to eat with friends and don’t want them to know.” — Jessica H.
  22. I ‘m afraid of the dark. It’s hard being a grown woman and afraid of the dark. People never understand and don’t get it when I try to explain.” — Maggie B.
  23. “My fear of checking the mail. It’s embarrassing because I know it’s silly, but I can’t help it.” — Courtney D.
  24. Walking in public. Just merely walking in public puts me in a low-key fight, flight or freeze mode.”– Athena B.
  25. “I fear shopping alone. I don’t even know why. I sit in the car crying until I’m too exhausted to care. Once I’m inside I’m OK if I’m not in there long.” — Krystal K.
  26. “I have this weird fear that one day I’ll wake up in an entirely different country to the one I was in with nothing but the clothes on my back.” — R.J. P.
  27. “Eating in front of people or eating food at someone else’s house. It’s embarrassing when I stay over for the night and won’t eat anything for a lengthy amount of time even though they said it was OK. I can’t help but feel like I’m stealing or I’m going to over take/eat.” — Giuliana S.

What would you tell someone who’s embarrassed by a fear caused by anxiety?

Originally published: July 10, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home