The year 2016 has been an ice cream sundae of realized horrors, topped off by a human that actually looks like a cherry if that cherry was radioactive and run over by a convertible. A lot of fears that used to feel outlandish suddenly seem pretty plausible: apocalyptic climate change, nuclear war, fascism, close-up pictures of Eric Trump’s weird mouth in the news every day. But somehow, in the face of it all, Joanna, Bobby, and Ellie still managed to be scared of normal stuff, too. A positive of 2016: Our anxiety threshold has increased when we once thought it could not.

Here are 80 non-Trump-related things we freaked out about this year. (As we wrote this, a military plane and several Black Hawk helicopters were flying around over Manhattan. We were fine!)


  1. Will I ever afford retirement or will I work until I’m dead?
  2. What if I accidentally drop my 7.5 pound weight on someone’s face or throat as I walk by them at the gym?
  3. What if I’m in a disaster situation—a terrorist attack or tsunami or the government takes us to a black site—and instead of being a hero I’m a little bitch and run around in circles and cry and make everything worse?
  4. Is my Ikea skillet poisoning me?
  5. Are all of my kitchen utensils covered in bacteria that is slowly killing me?
  6. What if good aliens invade just to say hello and share stuff, like they did in Arrival, but we decide to nuke ‘em?
  7. What if there are no good aliens, only bad aliens?
  8. My eyesight is so bad and getting worse every day. What if I go blind because of blogging? And then my grandchildren ask me why I went blind, and I will have to say, “Because I wanted to blog”?
  9. What if I don’t have grandchildren because Earth is gone by then?
  10. Did I undercook the chicken?
  11. Did I undercook the turkey?
  12. My tooth sort of hurts, is this because of an infection that will eventually travel to my brain and kill me?
  13. I was at a wedding abroad over the summer and hit my head on a staircase during the reception and was convinced my brain was hemorrhaging and completely freaked out and missed the entire dinner but fortunately the bride was a friend and super chill and she told her retired EMT uncle to give me a quick checkup to make sure I didn’t have a concussion.
  14. Did my mom putting plastic in the microwave when I was a child lead to BPA getting in my food and am I going to die because of it?
  15. What if I love my cat more than is normal?
  16. Should I have moved to LA after college with all those people I didn’t like?
  17. I want to move to LA but I’m also worried I would get too many freckles and die in a car wreck.
  18. Is NYC the place to be when you’re worried about global unrest (aka the city that will get the most help) or the place you definitely SHOULD NOT BE when you’re worried about global unrest (aka suitcase nukes)?
  19. On that note: suitcase nukes.
  20. Sometimes I think the shower head is gonna blow off the wall while I’m spraying water in my face and that I’m gonna die in the shower.
  21. Should I be a property owner by now?
  22. Is the main reason people have kids so that someone will be there to take care of them when they die? And since I’m not going to have kids, who will take care of me when I die?
  23. Should I live closer to my parents?
  24. What if bluetooth headphones give everyone brain tumors?
  25. What if my phone ends up giving me testicular cancer because I keep it in my pocket all day? Cell radiation is real, folks.
  26. What if, when I die, there isn’t an afterlife but there IS a life review. So like you see your whole life really quickly and then you’re suddenly dead. Forever. Isn’t that bleak? Like “sorry here’s everything you’re gonna miss bye good job.” Or is that actually nice?
  27. What if my cat is dying and I won’t know until it’s too late because I don’t take him to the vet enough?
  28. How often are you even supposed to take cats to the vet?
  29. If the economy crashes and we’re all suddenly unemployed and hungry, what direction do I go?
  30. Along that same line, what if circumstances require me to know how to tell north from south and how to find water and which plants are poisonous, but I don’t know how to do any of those things and perish?
  31. Think of having to eat your cat? I couldn’t.
  32. Will sitting several hours a day kill me?
  33. Should I buy a standing desk and be that weird guy at the office who bought a standing desk for himself?
  34. What if I’m quite stupid and don’t have any good ideas?
  35. Any time my parents call me I think someone’s dead.
  36. Subway pushers.
  37. Anyone with shifty eyes or not enough luggage or too much luggage OR who looks too stressed out, or not stressed out enough, is, in my opinion, definitely a subway shooter/bomber.
  38. What if I’m actually really unfriendly? And just didn’t realize that?
  39. Expanding on that one Ellie, what if my friends don’t actually like me?
  40. Expanding on that one Ellie and Bob, same question here.
  41. I’ve been very scared of stairs lately. What if I just miss a step walking down the subway because someone bumps into me and then I hit my head on a rail? Head injuries are a big one for me in case that wasn’t clear.
  42. I am terrified of falling backwards down the stairs and getting paralyzed. I don’t think I have the kind of personality where I would make the best of it?
  43. Will the two concussions I’ve had in my life give me CTE?
  44. I’ve had a few BAD sunburns and have very sensitive skin, will I get a melanoma all over?
  45. This year I went to the dermatologist for a mole check and was wearing underwear with a huge hole in the butt. My fear is: will that memory haunt me until I die?
  46. The past couple times I’ve taken a transatlantic flight I got very nervous about the potential for food poisoning? Like what if the food from those food factories gets HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE sick mid-air and then they’re all shitting everywhere and we can’t even have an emergency landing because we’re over the OCEAN.
  47. What if I’m very bad at my job and Emma just hasn’t told me?
  48. What if when I think I am being quirky and charming I’m actually being a huge fucking weirdo?
  49. I have largely avoided trans-Atlantic flights because of the very small chance of drowning.
  50. What if we are Gwyneth in Contagion? I do not wash my hands enough to prevent that!
  51. Do my neighbors think I am a bad singer?
  52. What if I am not charismatic enough to attract a mate who will put up with my extensive food allergies?
  53. What if my extensive food allergies don’t eventually go away, like my gastroenterologist implied, but just get worse and worse until all I can eat is bananas and Soylent?
  54. What if my migraines are suddenly not migraines but indicators of something MUCH worse?
  55. In an evacuation scenario, would my family be of sane mind and body to get in their car and meet me at the Canada-Vermont border with enough time? Or will they leave when there is already a highway blockade preventing anyone from passing through?
  56. Similarly, at what point will I need to evacuate my parents from Kentucky? Now?
  57. Do I have finger tumors from the three times I’ve gotten a gel manicure?
  58. Do I have head or face tumors from the 10 times I’ve gotten a Brazilian keratin treatment?
  59. Have I plugged every hole in my apartment to prevent cockroaches from crawling out them? How many cockroaches are in my body?
  60. Is it extremely bad or just sort of bad that I’m almost 27 and don’t have a credit card?
  61. Am I going to be one of those people who people shake their heads about and say, “Well, they just didn’t know how to manage their money”?
  62. I have 7,000 unread emails.
  63. Is there a man in my closet?
  64. Should I have gone to music school, even though I’ve never played an instrument for longer than two weeks?
  65. Would I be capable if a bridge (like the Brooklyn Bridge) collapsed while I was on it?
  66. Is anybody happy? Like is Jill Soloway happy?
  67. What if Nicholas Brody is my soulmate? He is a terrorist and dead and also fake.
  68. I will never be as good at anything as Carrie Mathison is at spying OR as Claire Danes is at acting, and does this mean I’ll always be just a little bit depressed?
  69. I went to Belize in November where Dengue Fever is endemic and I’ve had Dengue Fever before and the second time you get it it can kill you so I put on so much DEET the whole week that I think I gave myself the flu and then again a stomach virus.
  70. What if I can never enjoy a tropical vacation again?
  71. What if we really are in a simulation and the cyborg teens of the future are watching me change and stuff?
  72. What if I never get to see an elephant in the wild because they all die?
  73. I rode an imprisoned elephant in Cambodia. Will it send me to Hell?
  74. Is there a Hell and will I go to it?
  75. When I have a child will my boobs swell to a size F?
  76. When I have a child will my boobs swell to a normal size, and then deflate back to a worse version of their current size?
  77. Are all of my tweets in another company’s Bad Tweets slack?
  78. When people read my tweets, do they think: Aw, she’s trying!
  79. Am I a big joke?
  80. What if people noticed that we messed up the numbering of last year’s panic attack list and our readers think we are stupid?

Happy holidays, everyone!