My flightly fear

Hannah Kim, Spotlight Editor

Humid summer days can only be cured by a refreshing day at the beach. There is nothing better than the serenity of a perfect day spent near the ocean: golden sand to play with, idyllic walks on the boardwalk, and gentle waves to wade in. All hallmarks of a blissful summer afternoon. Until they come. It starts with one piece of bread, then two, then three. Armies of Seagulls squawking and fighting over morsels of leftover carbs. The first time I had witnessed these ferocious birds in action, I was three. Since then, I’ve developed an acute fear of birds. 

While I have come a long way from being that scared toddler on the beach, my phobia of birds has only worsened throughout the years. I lie restless at night after having terrifying nightmares of the flighty creatures; I strategically avoid certain parks known for their bird populations; and I even cried the first time I saw the villain–a terrifying animated Cockatoo named Nigel–in the children’s movie Rio

Sometimes it feels like birds are punishing me for detesting their existence. A bird pooped on my brand new tote bag, a gaggle of geese chased me around a park, and just last week I witnessed the most heinous bird-related crime of all. 

My sister and I were on our daily walk chattering away about the show on Netflix we were watching until I saw it out of the corner of my eye. Completely still and unmoving on the sidewalk lay a little black bird. We were sure it was deceased. Chills ran up my spine as I quickly ran away from the scene. 

It was a very macabre and eerie sight. Despite my aversion, we continued onto our last lap of the walk. When we reached the same area uptop the hill again, I was shocked to find that the little black bird was no longer lying there. Maybe someone cleaned it up?

As we wandered down the hill, the image of the bird wouldn’t leave my head. Lost in my own thoughts, I almost didn’t feel the tug on my arm from my sister. My sister whispered harshly to me that she saw the bird. Where? 

As I turned around and saw the bird, I felt as if I was in a slow-motion scene from a movie. It was not in the sky, not on the ground, but in the grubby hands of a neighborhood kid. Horror filled my entire body, and bile rose up in my throat. 

In my seventeen years of life, there has never been another moment so horrific and awfully memorable. However, as terrifying as that experience was, it led me to realizing that I don’t hate birds. I hate the unknown birds present to me. I hate the effect birds have on me.  Hate is so intermingled with fear because it is human nature to abhor what is unknown to us. 

Although my relationship with birds will always be tumultuous, I take comfort in knowing that fear is normal. Being afraid of something is not irrational, and overcoming fear is hard. I don’t think there will ever be a time where people are truly fearless of everything, but fearless to me doesn’t mean not being afraid of things. It means living on despite that fear; it means not letting fear drive us; it means not letting that fear turn into hate.