Fear Of Bathrooms
As a child growing up, I grew up with many fears. Some of the phobias seem funny now but some of them still scare me to this day. I was scared of a lot of things, and I mean A LOT! Some of my fears included: going to the bathroom and the light turning off while I was in there, going to a public bathroom alone, Chucky the doll, the darkness, looking under the bed, ghosts, dentists, and needles.

My fear of bathrooms was probably one of the worst. There were so many factors that contributed to that fear. For example, one day, my cousins thought it would be funny to have us all in the bathroom while trying to call “Bloody Mary” to appear in the mirror. I remember all of my cousins and I running out of the bathroom as soon as we could after the lights went out.

Another factor to my fear of bathrooms was the dark bathrooms at my elementary school. The old bathrooms there were really dark and the water from the faucet ran and it was scary. I hated going to the bathroom alone because I was afraid something bad would happen.

It really didn’t help when my brothers contributed to my phobia of bathroom darkness. I remember one day, when I was about 6 years old, the power went out and I was in the bathroom. I screamed as loud as I could and my brother came to the rescue. After that my other brothers used this to scare me by flickering the lights when I went to the bathroom. I know it’s a bit silly now, but I still have a little fear of dark bathrooms.
-Arena, 17


Insect Trauma
When your life is filled with fear, you are enclosed by this emotion. It lets no light in and keeps you captive until one day you grow up and break free from this cage full of childhood fears. I refuse to grow up and this leads me to never let go of my fears. Sure it should be easy since it is child-like emotion. But what happens when you’re scared of everything, like me?

As a kid I fantasized a lot and my imagination grew like wildfire. I was scared of this and that, anything around me. The most abused fantasy was the invasion of bugs. I portrayed myself as a tough kid so when my friends screamed, “Ahh…a big bug,” I would squash it whether it was an ant, cockroach, or spider. I’d kill those nasty little devils.

But in the back of my mind I would panic. What if that cockroach’s sister saw that I killed her brother and she was so shocked she went to tell her mother? Her mother would have to be a sweet little lady and break the news to the father. Now the father is very angry. He tells the whole colony, which has over a million cockroaches.

The whole colony is now going to target little Victoria and crawl up my foot and begin to devour my left leg. The angry father walks its tiny legs all the way into my nose and starts to chomp away on my brain. And this is why little Victoria with her childhood fears needs to grow up.
-Victoria, 16


Adrenaline Jockey
One of my childhood fears was being scared of fast moving roller coaster rides and rides that went upside down. When I went to the fair I would only get on the rides that were moderate speed. My biggest fears were roller coasters. I was always scared of them and I don’t know why. I didn’t conquer my fear of roller coasters until I went to Disneyland during my senior year and got on California Screaming. After I got off, I was a changed man. I became an adrenaline jockey.
-Kevis, 18


I Hate Hallways
As a child, I knew I would have fears from the most basic things such as the dark to fictional characters like Freddy Krueger and Jason. I never expected that these things would still petrify me after 12 years of my life. I think it’s kind of embarrassing to tell my friends that I still sleep with a night-light or how I’m still scared of the monster under my bed and in my closet.

For my family it’s pretty entertaining for them to see me walk down the long hallway in our house still as petrified as I was when I was five years old. But for me it’s not amusing one bit partially because it feels like every day of my life I’m living my own horror more. It’s as if every day when I walk down that hallway I am expecting either Jason or Michael Myers to chase me down the hallway like in all those scary movies. Like they are just waiting for me at the end of the hallway in my parents’ room. This is a fear I don’t think I can possibly get over as long as hallways exist in my world.
-Gracie, 17


Protégé Moi (“Protect Me”)
I opened my eyes—darkness has fallen,
Just as it has every other night
I lie reluctant, paralyzed by fear
My bones turn to lead, enveloped in
A blanket that does not protect me
My eyes, though I cannot see,
Dance and flutter about
Searching for what is not there,
A space, a hole, a crevice
An opportunity for something to get
Me, I whimper, I whine
I cannot fathom what’s inside,
The dark moves toward me—
Shimmering white around its skull
I emerge from my own cocoon by sheets,
Though I see them as gilded
I am now protected,
Only until I descend into sleep.
-Jaleesa, 20


Needles And Blood
My fear when I was small was needles. I would go to the doctor with my mom. I would sit there shaking. Then when the doctor called my name, I would jump and scare my mom as if something bad happened to me. Once I was with the doctor, tears would come out of my eyes.

The doctor would look at me and ask me what’s wrong. Then I would ask him, “What are you going to do to me?” He would say, “Well, I’m going to give you a shot.” I would get really scared because I was afraid the needle would break and all my blood would come out. Even to this day, I’m really scared of needles. I am afraid that if I move, the needle will break or cut my veins. I really hate and am scared of needles.
-Luis, 17


A Crawl Space?
We had just moved into a two-bedroom apartment. My sister and I shared the room on the right, which had two closets. My brother got the other room while my mom got the couch. We unpacked and my sister had more stuff than I did so she got the walk-in closet. While I was putting my boxes of books, shirts, pants, and stuff away, I got a really eerie feeling from above.

I looked up to find a little space with an open covering. I asked my mom what it was and for her to close it because I don’t like attics. She said it was called a crawl space. The next day I went into my closet and looked up to find it was open again so I told my mom to close it again.

That night I was babysitting my siblings and we were sitting on the couch watching a scary movie when we all heard a noise. I muted the TV and we all looked towards the rooms and we jumped because something went flying across the room into the dining room. We all jumped off the couch and ran outside until our mom got home. She checked everything and found that it was a toy and that the crawl space was open again. Before I went to bed I put a chair under the handle. I am scared of attics, basements and now crawl spaces.
-Chanda, 21


Dark Night
A stain embedded in my memory
A striking moment put fear in me
The patter of feet for my ears and
These sounds pierce the shadows that
Engulf me, the dog hops and sprints
An odd event in my head questions what is
This? An explanation does not exist
Shhh, more feet, a dark figure in this darkness
Only a blank picture my mind wonders
Just a backyard or a forest thick
With oleander bush.
-Marcus, 19


Angry Big Brother
Growing up as a child, I have always been afraid of my older brother. I feel like he hung out with the wrong group of friends. He is very controlling and wants everything his way or no way. He expects us to respect him even when he doesn’t respect us.

With his kind of attitude, I had a harsh childhood. Instead of my parents disciplining me, it was my brother who beat my younger siblings and me most of the time. This made me feel like maybe violence is the key to convince people to do things for you.

However, one incident affected my childhood to this day. It happened one day when my brother and father got into an argument. I wasn’t sure what started it but before I noticed it there was heavy breathing and people screaming. When I got to where the rumbling and yelling was, I saw my father tackle down my brother onto the floor. I did not know such violence like that existed. It was my fearless brother and father who were fighting.

Terrified, I jumped in but was yanked out by my mom. She told me not to get involved and to let my other brother stop them. Ever since that day, I know how crazy my older brother can get.
-Dasen, 18


My Fear Of Loneliness
Many people grow out of their childhood fears but some still have that part of them stay in their shadows, as they become adults.

As I look back to my younger years, I was afraid of many things, from the dark, to being alone, afraid of my mom, to the dogs next doors. Now as I am older and more mature, I grew out of those fears. I’ve been through so much in the 18 years I’ve been on this Earth, which helped me face my fears and become a strong woman.

Now as I think about it the only fear I’m still scared of is not having someone to hold my hand when I’m lost or someone to lend me a shoulder when my brown eyes are in tears. I’m afraid of being alone. When I’m talking about being alone, I mean like I’m scared of not having someone to trust. Like a best friend or someone I know who will be there for me body and mind…

I was loved as I grew up, but in the shadows of my life, I was abused in the dark. Not many people know what actually went on in the dark part of my life and to this day, it’s so hard for me to let people know. One way I’ve tried to get rid of my fear is by being a bit more open through years. Don’t get me wrong; I am open to others but the dark part of my life I am not.

I’m not only talking about being abused mentally, but also physically. Not the physical when you are beat for no reason, like not cleaning your room or something like that. I’m talking about…well about being “rap.” I must admit I wasn’t rap the way most people think about. But I was rap in a different way, which I don’t feel like saying at the time… This is part of my fear and this actually caused my fear. I can’t be alone with a cousin or uncle without worrying about what might happen.

I’m the type of person who won’t admit that I’m scared. I’m the type who acts tough and sometimes I’m not but I can’t let people know that part of me. I don’t like to show fear. I do show what I feel but I’m scared to let people in because my fear of being alone may cause me to actually be alone and chase that person away. It’s sort of complicated to explain at times.

I guess that my fear of being alone is not having someone be there for me in case something happens like what happened as I was growing up. So don’t take things for granted, because when you have someone special don’t let go just like that…hold on and fight for it. Friendship is important and having someone to trust is even more important then you may think.
-Anna, 18

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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