Monday 14 October 2013

by Nicole Lee Poh Sim, Sophomore 2 Cempaka, Class of 2015

Phobia. Phobia. Phobia. Now try repeating that word a few more times slowly in your head. I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear the word ‘phobia’, it gives me a cramped feeling. Even if you’re unsure of what the word means, doesn’t it sound like a weird and melancholy word? 

Phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. In my opinion, every single human being has a phobia. Everyone is afraid of something. No matter how big or small or stupid your fear may sound, it’s a part of you. Yes, some may be lucky enough to be able to get over their fear, but for others, it’s not that easy. You want to get rid of your phobia so badly. You want it to be out of your life forever. Having a phobia is a big flaw but, having a flaw does not make one imperfect, but instead, it’s what builds the character and personality of an individual. And that, is what makes every single person unique in their own way. 

Now, I’m sure most of you know me for swimming and maybe some of you are expecting me to write about my swimming life. Well you are partially right, but, I’ll be talking about it in a more interesting way. The question is, what does a sport like this have anything to do with having a phobia? 

As a child, I’ve always had many fears, it may have been simple, everyday things, I can’t remember, but the two most outstanding ones were atychiphobia and dentophobia. Atychiphobia is the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure and dentophobia refers to the fear of dentistry and of receiving dental care, in my case, receiving dental care. 

Most people do not know I’m afraid of failure, and that I hate losing. One thing I dread most, are competitions, especially swimming meets. Training is fine, it’s just competitions. I will not talk to anyone. I will snap. I will sulk. I hate the pressure. I will basically shut everyone out. Everyone expects me to do well. I’m always afraid of being looked down upon by others when I don’t perform well. Even I myself don’t know why I work myself up so much. If I don’t meet my expected time, everything will usually go down the drain.

I was probably five or six when I got my first medal. I was one of the slowest swimmers at that time. I also remember it was my first competition, and I barely knew anyone or anything. I remember feeling so lost, because almost everyone there was older than I was. I remember my parents telling me about how it didn’t matter if I lost. I was put in for a few events, and for the first few, I would always end up second-last or last. For my last event, which was the backstroke, I remember getting fourth. I was furious and devastated. Why fourth? I squatted down on my kicking board, and hot tears prickled out of my eyes. When the prize giving ceremony started, I walked over with a big sulk on my face to see the winners. When it came to the backstroke event for my age group, I held back my tears. I didn’t want to hear who got third. But, to everyone’s surprise, my name got called out to receive the bronze medal. You see, I actually wasn’t supposed to get anything, but the girl who got third got disqualified, and so I got the bronze by default. 

I’ll now be talking about another fear I’ve always had, dentophobia. I hate everything about teeth, especially when they’re shaky. As a child, I always dreaded going to the dentist, especially to pull out my teeth. You know how when you were younger, you always liked to play with your teeth when they were shaky. I was the total opposite. I would always leave the tooth alone. But the funny thing was I would always feel and shake my teeth which weren’t shaky. If they shook a bit, I would start freaking out. There was a point it was so bad that I would start crying to my mum when they shook even a bit. I don’t know why I was so scared. I would chew my food in one side of my mouth, hoping it wouldn’t affect the shaky tooth. And you know how some children like pulling out they’re teeth by themselves? I didn’t at all. Nearly all of my teeth have been pulled out by a dentist. I remember my first dentist. I hated her so much, maybe it was because she was always so impatient. Or maybe it was just because I was a difficult child to handle, I don’t know. I remember I gave her such a hard time once, she just walked out on me. My mum had to call her back in just to pull out my tooth. After that, I think she didn’t want me as her patient anymore, and so I had to go to another dentist, who was thankfully, so much nicer. 

At the end of the day, everybody has a fear of their own. No matter how ridiculous or how trivial it may seem, a fear is still a fear. And it's okay to have one. Like having hobbies, favourite colours and habits, fear is just part and parcel of life but never let it hold you back from trying new things, achieving new heights and exploring new dreams. 
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