I used to be afraid all the time. Whether it was going outside or meeting new people, I felt like I would never escape the paralysis of fear. Eventually, I had enough. I took control of my life and did something I should have done a long time ago: I consolidated all of my other fears into one towering fear of being sucked into a treadmill.

After years of letting fear dictate my life, I finally took action. In place of the countless fears that overwhelmed me, now it’s just treadmills. I still experience all the same terror I always did about long-term relationships, enclosed spaces and crowded social situations, but now it’s all about treadmills.

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I’ll give you an example. A year ago, I missed a friend’s wedding because I couldn’t work up the courage to get on an airplane. Even driving by the airport would make my heart race and my hands feel clammy. I would actually start hyperventilating and would have to pull over to the side of the road to calm down. Now all that only happens when I’m near a place with a treadmill and I envision it mangling me in its horrible, whirring belt.

After years of letting fear dictate my life, I finally took action. In place of the countless fears that overwhelmed me, now it’s just treadmills.

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I’d also been afraid of rejection ever since middle school, but now that’s a treadmill fear instead. My fears of heights, spiders and public speaking have all disappeared, and I’ve been able to feed all that wasted energy into a series of vivid treadmill-related nightmare scenarios.

Except in situations involving treadmills, this simple change has given me my life back.

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I used to stay up all night, crippled by my anxieties. Now I kick off my evening with one horrific vision of a treadmill peeling the skin off my thighs while my skeleton continues to whip around, and then I sleep soundly through to dawn.

After years of living in fear, I’m finally ready to do the things I want to do. As long as it doesn’t involve being near a machine that could suck me up, grind every bit of my body into an unrecognizable pulp, spraying my remains in its wake, I can do anything. And that feels pretty great.

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