Three students from Friends School in Detroit gathered around a table:
Alex Halladay, 13, an eighth-grader from Detroit:
I'm afraid of heights, spiders and falling. I used to watch TV a lot and I'd see scary films where people are up high and like an elevator might fall or something weird so every time I look down I think I'm going to fall off a big building. The first time I went to the Ren Cen and it was all glass and I was really afraid of that. ... I'm afraid that if I fail a class I won't be able to get into a high school of choice and I won't be able to get into my college of choice and I'll just be a person living on the street. I've never actually done bad on a test. One time I got a C on my report card and I really freaked out. It was science. I really freaked out. My parents were like, "Alex, it's OK. Calm down." I have no idea where this fear [of living on the street] comes from. I've never known actually anyone in my family or close to me that this has happened to. I'm just afraid of it.
Rosie DeSantis, 12, a sixth-grader from Detroit:
I'm definitely afraid of bugs. I hate centipedes. I'm afraid of falling off boats into deep water. I don't know why. I'm just afraid of some big fish attacking my leg, like some eel. I'm also afraid of being worse than everyone else. I like to be the best. I think I'm also afraid of global warming just because I've got all these plans and if climate changes ruins it I'm going to be really mad. I want to be an interior designer but I also want to help in South Africa and Darfur with famine. I don't know where [fear of] bugs comes from because my mom and dad are really big on camping and they're not afraid at all. So I don't know where that comes from. The boat? I've been on a boat. I usually almost fall off but the thing is I'm always in fresh water and places where there aren't any real big fish and stuff. Global warming I'm afraid of because if everything gets ruined for me, I don't know what I'm going to do. ... Also I hate standing under bridges. If I'm standing on something and it's really high and a lot of people are above me, I'm afraid it's going to collapse like a million people will be on me crushing me. So I do not like standing on bridges.
Carson Lankford, 14, an eighth-grader from Detroit:
I have a lot of fears. I'm probably not going to say them all. Some of the biggest ones are elevators and heights but I love the roller coasters at Cedar Point. I have like an iron stomach. I can eat before I go on any rollercoaster. I think I'm OK when I'm moving but on an elevator when it's like really slow I'm afraid the cable might snap. I think peer pressure is also one of my big fears like what people think of me. Do they think I'm smart? Do they think I'm dumb? Grade point averages. I too am deathly afraid of spiders and bugs, especially centipedes. I too am also afraid to fail because I plan to volunteer places. If they see my grade point average isn't so good they might not let me help. And also, I too am afraid of global warming because I too have plans to work with animals. I'm afraid that might upset them. [The animals? Or the plans?] Both. And for some reason, I don't know why, I'm afraid the world might end. I have one of those dreams where you're kind of falling into oblivion you don't know if the ground is there, it's like the sides melt away like a waterfall and then there's little itty-bitty tiny squares and the people around you just disappear and disintegrate and you're just falling and floating in oblivion.
Alex: So something that the three of us have in common is we all have a fear of something that is going to hurt us. Rosie falling off the boat and falling in the water, Carson afraid of heights and I'm afraid of heights. I think that all three of us fear pain. We're all imagining scenarios where we might end up getting hurt. And that's really scary to actually think about because if we get hurt our dreams would be over in a flash. So it's really creepy.
Ryan Barnes, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from West Bloomfield, has joined the table.
You heard what we're talking about, what are you afraid of?
I'm afraid of how my life is going to turn out or something. I'm afraid I might not be as big as I want to be.
How big do you want to be?
I want to grow taller so people stop teasing me.
Are your parents tall?
My mom is. My dad isn't. I'm also afraid of ghosts. I believe in ghosts and I'm afraid of ghosts and aliens.
Carson is nodding.
Carson: I believe in vampires and werewolves.
Are you afraid of them?
No. Sometimes I get in one of my kind of goth moods and I'm afraid of the sun.
Are there things you were afraid of years ago that you're not afraid of now?
Alex: I was afraid of the dark. And I was afraid of the boogeyman. The dark was connected to the boogey monster. The dark was freaky to me. I thought something would come out of the dark and eat me. I thought somebody would come out from under the bed and pull me under or I thought somebody would come in my room and kill me. Anything can happen in the dark. So I got a nightlight. It was pink and I was fine with that. My mom would come in sometimes and turn it off. I woke up one time and started screaming.
They're all laughing.
Ryan: I'm not afraid of the boogeyman. I always thought the boogeyman was like, you know, boogying down. So I wasn't afraid of that.Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org