Old people certainly don’t have a monopoly on fear. Some common fears — spiders, public speaking, even flying — may even be ones we’ve faced and conquered. But change and novelty, not so much. The fear of newness even has a name: Caicophobia.
Maybe you’re afraid to try a different haircut, since your current style has worked so well for you since 1993. Vacation in Virginia instead of Vermont? Undergo hynosis, or try bungee-jumping? Chicken, chicken, chicken, chicken. Not to mention the big fear inherent in doing something like moving across the country or changing careers, which forces you back into the position of being a rank beginner and so relatively ignorant and powerless, not a comfortable position for those of us who’ve achieved some measure of security and stature in our lives.
But being afraid to embrace the unknown can shorten your lifespan, at least if you’re a rat. One study shows that scaredy-cat rats die sooner than adventuresome ones. You’re safer bungee-jumping, in other words, than you are stressing over what will happen if you take the leap.