Next Chapter

Dear readers,

Today’s post is not usual. It doesn’t tell a story of another “victim”. Instead, I dedicate this one to a little recap of everything that happened up to this point. As you probably figured, the semester is over, and so is my beloved Multimedia Journalism class. During these four months I had a chance to meet new people and interview them (and that’s not something I normally do). I heard a lot of engaging and curious stories, and shared all of them with you, guys. Some were interesting, some were shocking, some were funny. But they all were extraordinary. The heroes of these stories taught me that no matter how scared you are, you ought to pull yourself together and do it.


So, shall we begin?

The first story I’ve ever written for this blog was about professor Pierangelo Castagneto. He told me a story about his childhood fear – a fear of not putting his socks on while asleep. This fear, he explained, had to do with the monsters who, professor believed, had lived in the dark. Not a little boy anymore, professor still prefers to cover his feet during the nighttime. His story taught me that you should never be ashamed of your fears, because it’s something that makes you – you.

My second interviewee was Olga Kvak. She shared her fear of darkness and the unknown that hides there. She told me that her fear was ignited by the horror movie called “The Ring”. There, a little girl named Samara Morgan tried to kill people in the dark. And because I, myself, get very influenced by horror movies, I can confidently say that I relate to this one 100%. Olga’s story taught me that the fear of the dark is something most of us has, and that there’s nothing bad about it.

Then we had my good friend and classmate Nelly Zhakhyan, talking again about her fear of the dark. In fact Nelly’s fear presented a mix of the fears of professor Castagneto and Olga, for she confessed that she fears the dark because of the poltergeists hiding under her bed. The attitude with which Nelly recited her story, cheerful and lighthearted, taught me not to take your fears too seriously and laugh them off, because it can really help prevent anxiety and make the fear seem less significant.

Gretta Talmaci, my fourth interviewee, shared her fear of spiders. When she saw a spider in her garden, she was so shocked that she couldn’t neither move nor talk, Gretta remembered. Her father reacted in an extraordinary way: instead of soothing his child, he screamed at her. “He said ‘Oh, what? Are you stupid? Why are you so scared?’” Gretta confessed. Her story made me wonder, in turn, if we can always trust our biggest fears and problems to our family and friends. Or are we all alone in this horrible world of the scary fantasies?

Next was Heidi Pullyard, who confessed to me her fears of bees and pigeons. She said she didn’t remember when and why those fears started. As a matter of fact, Heidi was never stunned by a bee or attacked by a pigeon. It’s just she feels revolted by either of the two creatures. Her story taught me that while some of our fears can seem funny, they shouldn’t be left untreated. Because if they are, they can cause even bigger problems in the long run.

Natasha Derbina, my sixth victim, told me about her fear of heights. This fear I understand completely – because I suffer from it myself. Sometimes her fear gets so bad, she feels like she’s going to pass out, Natasha shared. Despite of her fear, Natasha went to the Willis Tower, the highest skyscraper in Chicago, and took a picture of the view which opens from the 110-stories height. Natasha’s story inspired me to fight my fear of heights because if you don’t do it, you just can miss something really great and beautiful. Something that you’ll regret of missing for the rest of your life.

Then it was Saida Karimova, another my dear friend, who shared her unconventional fear – the fear of black holes. During the interview, Saida told me that she feels both afraid and interested in them. She acknowledged that her fear is not something that surrounds one for the moment. For her, however, it is as scary as darkness or heights for other people. Saida’s story taught me that people can have uncommon fears which can’t always fit the society’s interpretation of what a fear should be. It’s kind of “thinking outside of the box” I would say.

Recently I have also posted a story of Sarah Jones, who confessed of her fear of failure. Sarah said that her fear of not fulfilling her potential in life had many times prevented her from taking on great opportunities, because she was too scared of not performing the best she can. Sarah was the one to give the most helpful and powerful advice: simply take chances and don’t be afraid of making a mistake. We’re all humans after all.

My last interviewee was Claudia Valbuena, my friend from Chile. She told me about her fear of being stopped by the police when she’s driving or in the street. A foreigner in Kazakhstan, she quickly learned that the police force wasn’t trustworthy. “I had some bad experiences of being unfairly fined, for example, or treated without respect.” Claudia confessed. From her story I learned that the fear isn’t always something abstract, something what’s hard to imagine. Sometimes it’s just physical every-day things.

During this remarkable journey I had a lot of feelings. First, I was curious about the subject and ambitious to get the most interesting stories from different people (as I stated in my ABOUT section). Then I was overwhelmed by the size of the work that I had to do every week. After that I felt like my stories fell in quality and that every week they were getting more and more boring. That, in turn, transformed in me acknowledging all my hard work and being proud of it. Now, it’s more of a nostalgia of all the things I did for this class (Five-Shot Video, Midterm, Storify and Thinglink being just a tip of the iceberg) and those parts of my soul I’ve put into this project.

Addressing the question of my blog “How Do You Deal with Your Fear?” I can say that the only thing I’ve found out is that there’s no single way to fight fears. For some, relaxation and humor can ease the nervousness, while for others it’s determination and hard work. But although I can claim that I’ve found the answer to my question (more or less), I don’t feel like saying goodbye just yet. I will keep posting stories, but it won’t be the same as it was before. In the second chapter of my memoirs (a fancy way to put it) I will focus more on my fears and frights, as I didn’t have a chance to do it during the semester. I will still be talking about the tips people share to overcome their different fears. So, don’t worry about that.

That’s about it, dear reader. Don’t worry, it’s not the end. It’s only the new beginning.




One Last Fear

Hey guys!

The time flies so fast! It’s near the end of the semester now. And my last story for this class (not counting my final blog post) will be the story of a good friend of mine. This week’s victim, Claudia Valbuena, a Chilean resident in Kazakhstan and an English teacher, gladly agreed to give the interview about her unconventional fear. I couldn’t even find a name for it.


Claudia Valbuena. Photo from personal archive

“My biggest fear is being stopped by the police, when I’m driving or in the street.” Claudia shares.

She says it all started when she came to live to a new country and learned that the police force wasn’t trustworthy.

“I had some bad experiences of being unfairly fined, for example, or treated without respect.” Claudia confesses.

One time, though, Claudia recites, a policeman stopped her and when he saw the nationality she has and where she comes from, he released her without any sanctions.

Claudia advises positive thinking and sense of humor as possible strategies against any kind of fear. She also says she is a believer in God – she prays for His help, and He does many times.

“My experience with fear, as with any other feeling that is not so rational, is to rationalize it, and try to dominate it, not let it dominate you: positive thinking, hoping, relaxing, having sense of humor, asking for somebody’s help… are among other, things I do to reduce tension and fear.” Claudia concludes.

Since I couldn’t find any information about such unusual fear, I present you another Thinglink. Hope you enjoyed this week’s story!



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Fear of Making a Mistake

Hey guys!

As we’re approaching to the end of the semester, I thought it would be nice to have someone outside AUBG give an interview on our beloved topic. So, here it is! Sarah Jones comes from the United Kingdom and is currently taking lessons of Russian from my mother, a philologist. In an interview Sarah told me about two of her scariest fears – the fears of unfulfillment and failure.


Sarah Jones. Photo from personal archive

“I think my fears have changed over time but I have come to realize that my biggest fear is not fulfilling my potential in life – you know, not doing all I can do.” Sarah shares.

She says this fear isn’t something that haunted her for life. In fact, it has developed over the last 3-4 years.

“Its been a shift from worrying what other people think to realizing that what I really fear is letting myself down. I’m afraid of not doing my best work to the best of my ability, of not giving my all to each day, and of looking back with regrets and wishing I had taken chances.” Sarah confesses.

Sarah defines herself as a perfectionist. Sometimes it gets to the point when she becomes scared of taking new opportunities because she fears that she won’t do something the best she can.

To fight her fear, Sarah reads special literature (mostly books by Eckhart Tolle) which she finds very helpful, and meditates to reflect on situations in life more calmly and see the real picture of events instead of through a lens of fear.

To those who’s afraid of not fulfilling potential in life, Sarah advises to pull themselves together and, when the next time they have that little voice in their head that’s telling them that they won’t be good enough, just take a chance and do it anyway.

“Sometimes things don’t work out and that’s okay too, because as long as you learn from an experience its never a failure.” Sarah suggests. “The important thing is to overcome that so that you can create and take opportunities. And although that fear can be empowering, if you act on it, it can also be disempowering, if it stops you from acting.”

Atychiphobia, the fear of failure, is a common type of phobia nowadays. It is generally believed that this kind of phobia arises from a combination of heredity, genetics, brain chemistry, and life-experience. When an individual experiences a significant failure early in life, this results in the fear of failure in the long term. People with atychiphobia usually create a direct link between failure and competition: in a highly competitive society today, they find that it’s best to avoid the problem altogether. A person with atychiphobia is more strongly motivated to avoid failure, rather than to achieve success, tends to be more unrealistic in aspiration, and will not risk trying until perfection is assured.

The possible treatments of atychiphobia include counseling, self-help, various motivational techniques and behavioral therapies. Most people, however, believe that overcoming the fear of failure is entirely dependent on a person’s willingness and motivation to change. So everything is in your hands really!



One Spectacular Fear

Hey guys!

This week’s victim, my friend Saida Karimova, a sophomore from Kazakhstan 🙂 majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications and Literature and minoring in Political Science and International Relations, shared her biggest fear – the fear of black holes. Now, I don’t know about you, but as for me it is the most extraordinary and bizarre phobia I have ever heard of.


Saida Karimova. Photo from personal archive.

“I’m very afraid of the black holes,” Saida confesses. “It’s a very weird fear in a sense that on one hand I’m very interested in them. I know a lot about them, I read a lot about them. But when I read, I have this animal-like fear. What scares me the most is the fact that there’s nothing in there.”

“You know how a black hole appears?” she asks me during our chat. “A star explosion. When the star dies, it becomes a black hole. I had this fear that some star would explode somewhere near the Earth and destroy everything.”

Saida says her fear is mostly connected to the fact that nobody really knows what’s inside of the black hole and that there’s no possibility to find it out.

She also remembers the time it all started.

“When I was five years old, I had these big encyclopedias and I read everything. My favorite part was about the outer space. There were separate sections about the planets and the black holes. When I was little, it was the void of the black hole that scared me. I also was a bit irritated by the fact that I’ll never be able to know what’s in there. Because once you’re sucked into it, you’re dead.”

Saida admits that it’s not an everyday fear but when she thinks or reads about black holes, she feels very scared. She also acknowledged the controversial nature of her fear for on one hand she’s curious about them, while on the other she’s terrified by them.

When asked for an advice for people who’s afraid of the same thing, Saida humorously suggests not to think about the black holes.

“It’s a controllable fear,” she adds. “Because it’s not something that surrounds you for the moment. It just exists somewhere. You know it’s there, in the back of your mind, and there is hope that you’ll never have to encounter it.”

Now, I know here comes the part where I’m supposed give you a little upgrade about the topic discussed, but this week, because of an exceptional nature of the fear, I couldn’t find anything important to tell you, my dear readers. Instead, I’ve prepared a five shot video featuring Saida and a thinglink of a black hole. Enjoy !


My First Ever Storify and Thinglink

Hey guys!

So today in my MMJ class I learned how to use Storify, a social network service that creates stories using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It helps you, my dear readers, visualize the story and get the on-hand experience from reading experience. For my first ever example of Storify use I chose the guide on how to overcome the fear of heights (since it is the topic of this week’s post).

So please check it out. And tell me what you think about it 😀


And below I present you my Thinglink, another stuff I learned today. It can link videos on Youtube and sites and pictures on Google to a single photo. Now how cool is that?! That’s my first attempt to make a Thinglink.


Don’t Look Down

Welcome back guys!

It’s been a while since we last met, right? However, this was a pretty busy week. I had three midterms and that’s why today I’m going to keep it short (hope you wouldn’t mind). So my first interviewee after the fall break is sophomore Natasha Derbina from Russia who is majoring in Political Science and International Relations and Economics. She shared her biggest fear – the fear of heights.


Natasha Derbina, photo from personal archive

“Every time I’m somewhere up over the ground, I feel like I’m going to fall.” Natasha explains. “And I can’t help it. I start imagining all kinds of things happening to me if I fall. And these thoughts drive me crazy.”

Sometimes the fear gets that bad, Natasha starts to experience certain physical sufferings such as the rise of body temperature, panic attack and the overall body shaking. In most severe cases, she told me, it gets to the point when she feels like she is going to pass out.

When asked about whether she remembers when she developed the fear, Natasha only shrugs.

“I can’t say that it came from a particular event in my life.” she says. “It’s just something that have always been there with me.”

What Natasha does remember, however, is the most extreme situation when she faced her fear.

“Once, on my exchange year, when I was in the U.S., my host parents took me to Chicago for my birthday. And one of the main tourist attractions in Chicago is the Willis Tower. It’s a skyscraper of about 110-stories high and the most famous thing about this skyscraper is that it has these glass wall balconies where tourist just come and it has this glass floor. So you can stand there, look around and see the beautiful city of Chicago just under your feet. And so we went there. My parents took me to the Willis Tower and they told me ‘Come on! Let’s take a picture at the balcony.’ And I was standing there, wondering what I should do. They didn’t know about my fear. I was just so scared but I thought that this will be a beautiful shot, a beautiful picture. Plus, my parent took me to Sears building so what should I say? Like ‘No, thank you. I’m just gonna walk around and see something.’? So I went there and we took a picture.”


The picture from the Willis Tower (personal archive)

“Nothing happened to me,” Natasha confesses. “I just had to conquer this fear.”

The fear of heights (acrophobia) is considered to be an inborn or a non-associative fear. The innate cautiousness around heights had developed in humans over the history and is essential for survival in a world where fall poses a significant danger. A possible contribution factor for the acrophobia is dysfunction in maintaining balance. In this case the human balance system integrates proprioceptive, vestibular and visual cues to reckon position and motion. Therefore, as height increases, balance becomes poorer. A critical fear can interfere with the activities of everyday life such as standing on a ladder, or even walking up the flight of stairs.

The advice Natasha gives to all the acrophobics out there is to distract their minds, talk to someone, try to get their thoughts out of the bad things that might happen to them and, most importantly, not to look down.

Being an acrophobic myself, I have to say that it’s a very good advice.


And here’s a video with a little interview on a different fear. Watch to find out what it is!

Stay tuned for more scary stories and follow me on Twitter and Facebook 🙂


Hey guys!

So we finally reached this point – the last week before the Fall break. Halfway through our journey, I learned that people are afraid of many different things. Some are common, some are rare, and some are hard for me to understand. Nevertheless, one thing all fears have in common is that all of them make their victims loose control over their emotions, get very anxious and nervous, and even have panic attacks. Today we’re counting down all the scary stories up to this very moment.

My first victim, Prof. Pierangelo Castagneto, has one of the most peculiar fears I have ever heard of.

“Going to bed, going to sleep, I had this feeling about my feet. My feet should be covered. I could not sleep without my socks on” he shared.

Ok then. It may seem that Prof. Castagneto told me about his childhood nightmares, but it’s not quite like that. He actually claimed that this fear chases him even now. And interestingly enough, he wasn’t embarrassed or uneasy talking about it. From him I learned one very important thing. You should never be ashamed of yourself and your fears. Because that’s what makes you human.

Olga Kvak, my second victim, shared with me her pretty common fear – the fear of darkness. The way she got this fear is, however, not so ordinary. During the interview she told me about the movie called “The Ring” that contributed a lot to her fear.

“So after I watched this movie, I started to fear the darkness and night in general. And being killed, you know.”

Her fear became so bad, she couldn’t sleep without the lights on, Olga remembered. This is actually something I can relate to. I, myself, am not afraid of the dark, but I’m not the huge fan of it either. Olga’s story taught me that among the myriad of complex psychological fears of failure, peer pressure, or rejection, we still have those mundane ones of heights, fire, or darkness.
Up next we have another fear of darkness. This time it’s Nelly Zhakhyan, number three in my list, talked about her memories about her first encounter with it. Once more we hear a story about monsters hiding under the bed.

“Maybe these monsters are kind, maybe they’re friendly, maybe they don’t want any harm..” Nelly laughed.

Laughing about her own fears, Nelly taught me not to take mine too seriously, be ironical about them, and see them from another, funnier, perspective. Thank you Nelly for this very helpful piece of advice because smile and laugh are indeed the two most effective strategies one can take to fight their fear.
Gretta Talmaci, my fourth interviewee, talked about her fear of spiders. It originated from her early childhood, she said. Gretta even told me a story of how it all started. She saw a spider in her garden, and the shock was so big, she couldn’t neither move nor talk. The reaction of her parents for their daughter’s fear was very different. Gretta’s mother tried to soothe her while her father responded in a very aggressive manner.

“He said ‘Oh, what? Are you stupid? Why are you so scared?’” she remembered.

Gretta’s story made me wonder if we really have people who can understand our feelings and frights, and comfort us when we need it the most? Or we are all alone in the world of our scary fantasies and have to confront our fears by ourselves not relying on anyone to support us morally?
My last victim, Heidi Pullyard, frankly told me even before the interview that most of all other things she fears bees and pigeons. “Okay. I can understand bees,” I answered. “But why pigeons?” I asked.

“I don’t know why,” she replied. “I noticed it when I was in the U.K. They were everywhere. I was, you know, trying not to really get close to them.”

That’s one weird fear, I first thought. But few minutes later it struck me that, in fact, I don’t like pigeons either. And it’s just the way the look. It’s how they always go the same way you go. But I rather feel irritated by them. Anyway, Heidi’s story taught me that whatever funny our fears are, we should never leave them untreated. The logic behind it is that, if left untreated, even such a small fear can cause big problems in the future.
Answering the question of my blog, at this point I can say that there is no universal way to deal with fear. Everyone has their individual methods of coping with it. But one fascinating thing I found out while interviewing these people is that they all suggest each other to visit a doctor. Not sure if it’s a joke or not, but I’ll try to figure that out during those weeks I have left.
All right, dear readers! So far so good. Wish you a wonderful and unforgettable break. And I, meanwhile, will be in search for new stories to tell. By the way, take a look at this great book I’m reading. It’s Joyland from the master of horror and suspense Stephen King!


And here is a small teaser for the upcoming stories. Enjoy!