Sorry to disappoint, this isn't about romantic relationships or leaping into the arms of the person you're going to die with. For all you uncultured fellows, that reference to The Notebook was just a desperate attempt to make my fear more culturally attuned.
If you've ever walked across McCarthy Quad or been anywhere remotely outdoors with me, you've probably seen me halt, swerve, and reverse with ~uncharacteristically~ extraordinary agility (accompanied by some of my unique screeching sound effects) anytime there's a pigeon, crow, or quasi-flapping organism within a ten foot radius — yes, birds. I'm deathly terrified of birds.
Whilst most people see them as creatures that are harmless, endearing, or — God forbid — cute, I prefer to more accurately describe them as "satanic pawns of the devil himself". I'm honestly only being like 4% melodramatic right now. Because really, the possibility of running into a bird is a legitimate concern hovering in the back of my mind every time I'm speed-walking to class. I don't really have a descriptively traumatic or specific moment to which I can pinpoint the origin of my fear; maybe I just rolled out of bed one morning deciding to plague my life with a newfound fear of the obnoxiously ubiquitous creatures of the sky.
But "fear of birds" sounds a little lame and absurd, does it not? Fear not, for there is a much more esoteric and slightly snazzier term to describe this aversion to the avions! Ornithophobia is officially defined as "an abnormal, irrational fear of birds", affecting about 0.9% of the US population ("Fears Ep. 18"). I'm often asked by the other 99% of the population why I'm so stubbornly averse to birds. Honestly, my question is what about birds isn't there to be afraid of? They have those soul-piercingly beady pupils, those disturbingly talon-like feathers, and their absurd head-bobbling gait. Oh, and there's the fantastic way they like to abruptly dive-bomb their way through crowds of humans, watching for the weaker ones that flee in fear — truly, the whole package.
You might find this fear of mine a little amusing, a little absurd. In my 19 years, I've received way more than my fair share of bemused head-turns and half-pitying, half-ridiculing snorts of laughter from friends, from acquaintances, and from utter strangers who happen to be walking behind me on the sidewalk. What's funny is that if you're afraid of heights or bugs or public speaking, you're utterly normal and not a single person will ask you twice about it, You're afraid of public speaking?! What a concept! Nope.
So why does ornithophobia become such an outlandish concept just because fewer people are plagued by it? Not all fears are treated equally, but I think all fears should be acknowledged equally. This isn't to say I retaliate with a scathing comeback when a random fella walking past half-laughs at me or that I have a major existential meltdown when a friend pokes fun at my extreme aversion to birds; most of the time, it's all received in good humor, as a bit of banter and perhaps a slight show of weakness to reveal that wow, Kiana is human and not a soulless robot after all! But deep down, there's a small bit of me that feels utterly unacknowledged and slightly ridiculous when it becomes a regular joke; call me sensitive, but I'm adamant that, despite how implausible and ridiculous it may sound, my fear of birds is real and just as terrifying to me as public speaking is to three-quarters of the population.
So moral of the story? Respect other people's fears, no matter how preposterous or far-fetched...and BEWARE THE BIRD.
"Fears Episode 18: Ornithophobia." AKB, Penn State, 6 Apr. 2015, sites.psu.edu/akb13/tag/ornithophobia/.