I have a weird phobia …
Globophobia: a fear of balloons.
Now, this isn’t an invitation for you to appear in front of me Pennywise style with a bunch of balloons — that might earn you a punch to the nose.
My problem with balloons is that it makes my anxiety blastoff whenever I see, or imagine, someone blowing one up. This sensation then heightens when I imagine said balloon popping in the individual’s face — as it’s doing right now.
So R.K, were you terrorized by a mini car full of clowns? As fun of an origin story that would be, no I wasn’t. It all started when I was 14ish. A cousin of mine was having a party and long story short, we blew balloons up and they kept popping around me. I also watched a few popped in my cousins’ faces. [Insert horror stricken scream.] I never thought anything of it until I came across someone blowing a balloon and I almost lost my s**t! A feeling of claustrophobia kicked in. A feeling of dread washed over me. And then it dawned on me: balloons are evil!
I avoided balloons at all costs. Unless I had to attend an event that featured them, I usually declined offers to kids’ parties, baby showers, and so forth.
This all changed a few months ago — when I attended a clown festival by accident. I was invited to explore an old comune called Monte San Guisto, when I stumbled across the Clown & Clown Festival. I had no idea what was happening — language barrier. Hundreds of people were in attendance. The place looked festive. Vendors, carousels, art, foods … and clowns. That wasn’t so scary.
Until it began to rain balloons! Balloons were everywhere! Some were in people’s hands and the larger ones were crowd surfing. When I tell you “I wanted to curl up in a ball and die,” I truly wanted to do so. And then the thing I dreaded most started to happen: they began to pop in every direction.
- I am from Brooklyn, where loud pops meant run or duck for cover.
- I felt trapped in a nightmare.
Unfortunately, this was one of those times when I had no choice but to stick around — I had no access to transportation and a child was with us. Since my Mama didn’t raise a quitter, I faced my phobia. I gritted my teeth, whipped out my phone, stood in a corner and did my best to drown it all out. Finally, we left and I was able to release the breath I had been holding for an eternity.
I am not saying I am cured. However, I am able to ignore my discomfort more than I used to. It’s okay to face our phobias, especially if the encounter might make us stronger, and even more resilient than we already were.
Spoiler alert: I survived this encounter.