From the time that I was a little girl, I knew that I was different from other little girls. Not in the scary sense – I still played with Barbies, wore cute little dresses and enjoyed watching Barney and Sesame Street with the best of them. I joined a dance studio and learned how to tap and do ballet. But there was always something a little off. While all the other little kids were running up and down the staircase without a care in the world, I cautiously took a step one at a time, holding onto the rail with the grip of life.
I am deathly afraid of walking down staircases. I think this fear has stemmed from me falling down a flight of steps when I was little. I remember it still very clearly in my mind: one moment, I was innocently taking the first step like a champ, and the next I was landing flat on my butt at the bottom of the wooden steps. It didn’t hurt like you would expect it to; I think I was more shaken up from the fall itself.
For some reason, my fear went away for a period during my time in middle and high school. It has only recently resurfaced during my college years, where I find myself using staircases more than usual. Unfortunately, this walking-down-staircases fear has only intensified with each passing year. I am that girl firmly holding onto the railing, walking one step at a time and pausing right before the bottom step. I find this is where I freak out the most for some unknown reason.
Luckily, when I attended Adelphi University, the dorm buildings were not allowed to be more than four stories high. I never had to worry about walking down an obscene amount of steps for class or during a fire drill. I was happy there.
But when I transferred to KU and was placed in Dixon Hall, the six flights of stairs and never-working elevators scared me. Not to mention the fact that we had an unexpected fire drill every other week, where I was required to walk with around 500 others down four flights of stairs. I was not happy here.
Over the years, I have found a way to hide my fear of walking down stairs. For the most part, not a lot of people know that I have an out-right fear of stairs (until they read this article, that is). A lot of my friends think I’m just really slow walking down steps.
I’m hoping this fear won’t follow me around for the rest of my life. I’m not sure on how to conquer it, though. Like people with a fear of heights, bugs or the dark, there is no way to avoid it; I will always have to walk down flights of stairs. I think it’s all about dealing with your fear in a healthy way. For example, I am trying to use stairs as little as possible. It sounds weird or a little lazy, but it’s come to the point where I cannot walk down a mini-flight of stairs without my heart beating a bit faster.
For now, I can only dream of the day where walking down a long flight of steps won’t ridiculously freak me out or make me look like a complete weird-o to on-lookers. I don’t even want to know what others are thinking when they see me trip down the steps in the library. At least now they’ll know that what I have is a real problem – I’m not intentionally making myself look like an idiot for no reason.
By Mary Pickett