Life is terrifying

wise owl face

No matter how old you are, life is terrifying for one reason or another. Here are some of mine.

When you’re young, you don’t know anything and that’s fine.

You get older and start to believe you know some things. But you look young so no one believes you know anything.

You get older some more and realise all those things you thought you knew–actually you have no idea about them. Or possibly they made the world more complicated while you were watching Red Dwarf.

At some point when you (again) don’t know anything you start to look old enough that people think you know things. They listen when you speak and assume you’re correct.

Then you’re in trouble.

I’m not putting numbers on the age when these things happen. When my sister looked old enough to know everything, she was six. For the average stranger, perhaps this happens around forty. Or twenty. Or sixty. Or a hundred.

I mention this because I’m getting to the age when people look at me and assume I know things. And it scares the squirrels out of me.

Trust me, I don’t know anything.

To make myself feel better, I’m going to look back at the other stages and remember what was so terrifying about them.

Stage 1: You know nothing

When you don’t know anything, the world is a terrifying place.

Adults get mad at you for no reason. All you did was take your shoes and socks off to play in the sand pit.

And that woman, is she your mother? You can’t tell. She looks a bit like your mother, but her hair is shorter than before she went into that shop with the red, white, and blue pole outside. Better ignore her and see if she recognises you. (I kid you not, it was confusing and borderline terrifying.)

So many adult knees, and occasionally you attach yourself to the wrong ones. Not only terrifying, also mortifying.

Come to think of it, I spent most of my childhood feeling horribly embarrassed.

The upside? You’re adorable.

Are you going to get mad when she can’t answer your questions about quantum mechanics? No, because she’s adorable.

Stage 2: You know things but no one believes it

Sure, you know things. You know calculus and all about black figure Greek vases.

But no one is going to pay you to use what you know.

Instead life will be a series of pointless tests.

Can you cook something edible for dinner without setting the kitchen on fire? Can you scrape together enough money to keep the power on? Where the fox is the bus stop and how will you know when to get off?

Can you stand up and talk in front of all these people without spontaneously combusting?

Does he like you the way you like him?

(Okay, that’s not a test. Still terrifying.)

Who am I, even?

Stage 3: You know nothing (again)

They’ve changed the concept of a phone, Facebook is what your parents use, and did you know that electrons aren’t really little balls orbiting the atom’s nucleus?

You have to travel internationally on your own, and they no longer send a friendly flight attendant to hold your hand.

You might face a nasty gutterbug called a mortgage, or deal with soulsuckers called lawyers.

Your cat will probably bite you. He will definitely draw blood.

Face it. Life is terrifying.

sleeping hippos

So, that made no sense. I blame the food poisoning.

What do you think? Does life get more or less terrifying as you go along?

Hear more from me. Some of it might make sense, but no guarantees.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

8 thoughts on “Life is terrifying”

  1. I think life gets progressively more terrifying until it gets to the point where you can no longer take it seriously. That’s something of a relief, but I still wish the flight attendant would hold my hand.

    1. That’s an excellent point. When I was young I took life very seriously. Then I reached a certain age and decided much of life was probably a big joke. It did make things less stressful.

  2. In my case it’s both: life becomes more AND less terrifying the older I get.

    I totally identify with Stage 3! I turned 40 in February and I’m utterly confused. I feel like a fossil beause I watch TV the old-fashioned way while others watch Netflix. I also have this nagging feeling that I should know stuff by now, but adulting remains scary and challenging while the stakes keep getting higher. I’ve ended up co-owning property and trying to run a business. I don’t even want to think about that too much, too frightening.

    On the other hand, life is also becoming less terrifying because the scary stuff affects me less. For instance, I still make dumb mistakes and fail at stuff, but whereas earlier in my life I found it devastating, these days it’s more like “Man, I failed again. Bloody embarrassing. Oh well, I’ll just keep trying.”

    All things considered, I like growing older.

    1. I hear you! Businesses and owning property are hugely scary grown-up things.

      I think I’m the same in that I’ve gotten less worried about failure. Maybe because when you’re young you’ve never tried much, so if you fail at something it looms large. After a while you’ve tried so many things and succeeded at a lot that one failure doesn’t shift the balance much. Either that you just get apathetic. 🙂

  3. I think maybe it’s that life keeps getting scarier **as long as you are looking for new challenges**. If you stop doing that, you can settle into a nice routine where you recognize your parents, and poop in the big-girl potty, and maybe have a nice predictable job… But I’ve never hit a point where I’m willing to settle into that reassuring rut that so many of the “together” people seem to be in.

    1. Omg, I think you’re a genius! As we get older we do learn enough to recognise our parents and largely handle everyday life. At that point we can choose to fall into a rut and keep doing the things we know how to do, or we can strike out, scare ourselves, and see new lands. Apart from being brilliant, this is the best excuse ever for not having things “together”.

  4. I’m starting to think that life is being taken waaay to seriously. Why did I spend so much of my life taking things so seriously?!! I still take some things seriously, so I must not be old yet. At the same time, I feel like I know nothing (still) but now I’m starting to care less. Does this mean I’m getting old? Or maybe, I’m in the stage of life where I’m both old and young at the same time. 🙂

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