I went to my second real haunted house this year. It took a little convincing, but I went. And, as it turns out, haunted houses are not that scary. Well, compared to scary movies anyway. And movies are not as scary as books. And the scariest part of any spooky experience is afterward when you’re laying in the dark and every shadow and sound becomes a demon or murderer.
Basically, this haunted house showed me that the more tangible a horror is, the less scary it is. That isn’t to say that haunted houses aren’t fun and thrilling, they are. But they also aren’t that scary, and that’s why people like them. At a haunted house, we get to see the spooky thing, scream it in the face, and move on. Just like that, we conquer the monsters and leave them behind us.
This tangibility of threats is something we don’t get in our day-to-day lives. In real life, we have to deal with the threats of looming deadlines, struggling relationships, and burdening responsibilities. We can’t just scream those in the face and move on.
When my friends and I were waiting in line at the 13th Floor and the guy in the truck passing by mockingly yelled, “The real fears are crushing debt and dying alone,” he wasn’t wrong; but that’s why we weren’t standing in line to get abandoned and have all our money taken.
I think what that man in the truck didn’t understand is that we weren’t at that haunted house to get genuinely scared. We weren’t paying money to experience the actual fears of real life. We were there to escape the real fears and conquer the fake ones. We were there for the fun, not for the scare.
And while running away from a clown with a chainsaw is fun, conquering a haunted house only provides a mild sense of accomplishment. It is the real fears in life that offer the more satisfying rewards.
No, real-life fears are not usually fun, and you can’t just scream and laugh your way past them knowing that they are contractually obligated not to touch you. But, like a haunted house, there is some comfort in knowing that somehow you will conquer the fears. No matter how many monsters, headless dolls, and blinding strobe lights are lurking around the corner, somehow, you will make it through to the other side.
This haunted house showed me that I can conquer the fears in my life. Even though the fake scares are nothing like the real ones, no matter what is in front of me, as long as I keep moving, I can make it through—one monster at a time.