brave, fun, guilty pleasure, personal growth

Fear of Popping a Balloon: Exposed

I know, I know.  It seems silly to be afraid of a balloon popping; but, truth be told, it was one of my greatest fears.  I know it may be trivial to some, but sometimes small things like these are earth shattering to others.

One of the reasons why I want to talk about it today is because I actually met someone this week that has the same fear I once had!  (I thought I was the only one!)

Living with Fear and Getting Over It
I could never be around balloons because they always filled me with anxiety.

I think my fear stemmed from when I was young and was forced to play that terrible game of ‘balloon pop’.  Many of the birthday parties I went to had the game where money would be stuffed inside the balloon and the only way to get it was to pop it.  While it seemed innocent, I was actually traumatized by cousins who would take the balloon, put a fork to it, and pop it in my face.  Left… POP.  Right… POP.  Under you… POP. “Hey Loren!… POP!”  Popping was going on everywhere!  And after many birthdays, I suddenly found myself with a fear.

Fast forward to being an adult and cringing when balloons came into the frame; it actually wasn’t so ‘cute’ anymore.  And, since it’s somewhat rare, it makes you seem a little… different.  I will never forget that one meeting at work (with about one hundred people in attendance) that ended with a balloon drop; I ran away from that meeting into another room.  While I let people know why I was acting funky and they seemed to understand, I knew deep down inside that there was something more to it than just balloons.

A few months ago, for my birthday, I asked my husband to buy me balloons.  And he did.
lorenbirthday
Being afraid of a balloon didn’t mean just trying to get over the loud sound, but it meant getting over an anxiety that was housed inside of me for so many years.  And this fear just so happened to be masked with an elastic rubber that comes in a multitude of colours.

A balloon popping is something sudden and usually surprising.  And that was the problem, I was not one to want to be surprised, because I needed to know everything.  I needed to be in control.  I didn’t know how to react to a sudden or surprising thing.  The way I reacted when someone teased me by putting a fork to a balloon in my adult life was not normal.  I freaked out, cried and screamed.  And you know what?  I let them get away with it.  I let myself get weak, back down, and never challenged them by saying “Go on, do it.”  I was then teased. Constantly.  I let that get added to my list of insecurities and it was my own fault.

So, for my birthday last year, I said enough was enough.  I was tired of running away.  I was tired of anxiety. So I took a ballon and, after a bit of hesitation, popped it!  I then cried.  But, funny enough, I immediately started to laugh.

I then turned into a little bit of a crazy lady and grabbed all of the balloons around the house and popped them all.  It was so therapeutic and I felt years of anxiety melt away!  Not only that, but I grew confident.  Having a fear and just going for it head-on is intimidating, but it honestly is how you get over things sometimes.  And I proved to myself that it wasn’t just with a balloon that I could take this experience and apply it to; there were so many other parts of my life that could use this newfound ‘bravery’.  I tackled a champagne bottle the following week- ha!  But then I also confronted someone  via conversation.  I didn’t let the ‘what-if”s’ get in the way of me moving forward.  And that was a big learning for me, especially since it came from such a small thing.

Meeting Someone with the Same Fear
So this week, I had the pleasure of meeting myself.  It was actually someone else, but I saw a lot of the ‘old me’ in the ‘present her’. While I know our lives aren’t the same and we have different things that attest to who we are today, the anxiety was there.  So I sat with her and told her my story.  She was very much inspired, which I could tell, and was very humbled by.  We had a video shoot that day which included balloons and, by the end of the day, I saw her being able to look at balloons in a different way.  She didn’t exactly pop a ballon -and I wouldn’t have expected her to- but I saw that she was being very brave and built up the courage to take baby steps forward instead of running back to what she always deemed as ‘safe’.  She was laughing the whole day and I was so happy to know that sharing just a bit of my own experience with her gave her some sort of ‘hope’.  Even if it’s very minimal, it still brought a smile to my face knowing that I helped someone.

Again, again!
I can proudly say that I can pop a balloon with no problem these days.  I have this little bit of ‘guilty pleasure’ while doing it, which is actually quite funny.  But, ever since then, I proved that I could become more confident and that I do have it in me to be my strongest self.  All it takes is just some self-listening to what it is that you really want in your life, taking the plunge, and trusting yourself.

We went to the park today and I thought I would commemorate that day and my conversation with the girl I had this week by popping a balloon!
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Unfortunately my hand slipped and popped the balloon too quick for me to even plan it. Haha

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The surprise and suddenness didn’t freak me out though; I actually enjoyed it and laughed it off!

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I encourage you to just think about a little fear you may have and why you may have it.  And, if you find yourself building up the courage to say “enough is enough,” then do something that will help you get over your little fear.  You may be afraid now, but in a couple of months, you could laugh it off and help someone else.  You never know :).

lorenballoon3

Have a wonderful week everyone! 🙂
Loren.

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8 Comments

  • Reply jejje August 11, 2014 at 7:17 am

    i have the same fear, i’m 20 and been afraid all my life. I don’t umderstand how you dared to pop a balloon, i would never dare. Is it the only cure? to pop balloons?

    • Reply Loren August 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      Hi jejje! Thank you so much for reading the post and sharing with me that you share the same fear. I have to say, from my own experience, avoiding the situation only made it worse. It was the willingness to get over the fear and not let it control me anymore that I decided to control it. It may seem impossible now, but one day it may be possible! I started small and slow: maybe be in the same room with them, then handle them, and then maybe take a balloon and blow a baby balloon! See how that feels. If you feel comfortable with them then, try making a tiny hole at the tied part and slowly let the air out, see how that makes you feel. Eventually maybe you can have one across the room and throw a stick or something at it to make it pop from afar. Lastly, when you feel comfortable maybe you’ll be ready to just take it in your hand and pop a small to medium one! Think about what the worst case may be, because once you do it, that’s it, it’s over! And you would have conquered your fear. When I finally decided to do it I was just ready for my fear to be over and I just went in there and popped it! Like I said in my post, I cried… but then I laughed! Very relieving. Just take it slow and take baby steps- the only way to get through it is to slowly do it. I know one day you can do it! I would love to know how it goes – best of luck to you! x 🙂

  • Reply Jessica F April 10, 2018 at 12:47 am

    I had this fear, too, stemming from the same reason. I also hate firecrackers and fireworks. I plug my fingers in my ears, move them around a bit AND hum during them, and I’m 34! It physically hurts and also terrifies me because I jump at sudden, loud noises.

    I lost my balloon fear by working on a children’s show that (to my horror) had a balloon drop. We’d have to help blow up the balloons, transport the drop from the place we’d filk it to the hanging position, and then they fell onto the audience. There was popping all along the way! I HAD to get over it or else be miserable for a solid 3 months. Exposure and just DOING IT really is the only way to get over a fear. At the end, I could pop a balloon by hand. I also have to make sure to pop a balloon every few years to make sure I don’t regress. It’s scary but worth it to just pop the thing and get it over with!

    • Reply Loren July 6, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      Hi, Jessica! OMG, by hand?! You are a #bada*s! Thanks for sharing LOVE the “ain’t-nothing-to-it-but-to-do-it attitude!” Sometimes, the universe just puts things in front of us and it’s a challenge for us to overcome things– just as you did! I am so happy to hear that you were able to get over it and have maintenance! Taking a page out of your book! Cheers! :).

  • Reply Md April 17, 2018 at 12:26 am

    I had the same fear, when i was 6 we were at a fair and someone walked up and popped my balloon and for a long time after that i couldn’t even go anywhare balloons might be, then when i was about 16 i was staying at a friends house & walked into their guest room & their was my greatest fear, balloons, my friend relized what was happening & apologized I told them it was okay and I wanted try to stay in the room with them & try to get over my fear of them. My friend who got over the same problem I had suggested if I felt comfortable to grab one of the really soft ones and try to just kick it around the room, after about 2 hours of playing with the balloons, she said if I felt comfortable to try it and sit on it but not hard enough that would pop. We sat on the balloon for about an hour until we had dinner. Her brother came home from a sealife party with balloons & freaked when he saw that i was there because he knew how I felt about them, my friend told him what we have been doing & he said if we needed extra balloons we could take his. About 2 hours later I had to walk into the room to grab my phone and I decided to sit on one of the balloons again while I was getting my phone out of my bag, i was sitting on it for about 5 minutes when it just popped, my friend and her brother came in to see if I was okay I told them yes and the next thing I know I was grabbing another balloon and sitting on it. By the end of the night we were all sitting on their porch popping the rest of the balloons. To this day I’m still a little scared of balloons but I can deal with them, for some reason I still can’t bring myself to pop mylar balloons especially animal shapes, my friend said she can’t either because it’s like they’re looking at you.

    • Reply Loren July 6, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      Oh wow, thank you so much for sharing with me your experience! I am so happy to hear that you were able to work on it and come a long way in the end! My, how brave of you! Sometimes, some support and patience of others who understand is what it takes! Goes to show, we have the power to overcome anything we work on and put our minds to :). Kudos!! As for mylar balloons, I never really pop them, just take the air out of them… they don’t make loud POP noises so, for me, it’s OK!

  • Reply Ryan Dayhoff August 26, 2018 at 2:49 am

    I came across this article when I googled “Popping anxiety” after coming home early from a chinatown party in LA because the chinese party poppers gave me crazy anxiety. Im 24 and am as frustrated as ever that Im still terrified of balloons, fireworks, gunshots, etc.

    Every time I go near anything will the ability of sudden popping/explosion, I grow angry, afraid, cover my ears, and speed walk as far as I can away from the area. People just grow confused why something like a balloon takes over me and it just makes me angry to explain it, feeling like somethings truly wrong with me. .

    Its gotten so bad to where I sometimes cover my ears during movies when a gun is pointed just because Im afraid of it going off. Granted, still loud but its coming out of my television!!!!! Its really concerning me, especially at age 24.

    Your article really helps know there are people who not only have experienced the same things, but have had moments of empowerment by defeating the fear. Id really loved to talk about it with you over email if you would be ok with it. I know this article is from a couple years ago but it would really mean alot to even just have you reach out.

    Glad youve conquered this fear.

    Ryan

    • Reply Loren November 25, 2018 at 6:43 am

      Hi, Ryan. Thank you so much for taking your time to read the article and write such a thoughtful note, sharing your experience with me! I agree, it can be pretty nerve-wrecking. The key is to overcome the fear little by little. It takes some work and time, but if you’re committed to getting over it, I think it can be possible. Don’t be frustrated, just accept that there is this fear and take small steps to conquer it! There is nothing wrong with you :). You can definitely reach out to me via email — use the contact me tab at the top of the page! I’m no doctor, but happy to share some more tips to any questions you have on how I, personally, conquered this fear <3.

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