Our mothers are often the most influential people in our lives and play a distinct role in shaping the way we see the world, whether for good or for bad. My mom is one of the spookiest people I know — I mean, she was born on Halloween for skeleton’s sake! So, in the spirit of spooky season, I have compiled a list of the top ways my mother has shaped the way in which I see the world by spooking me out of my boots. She gave birth to me: The inception of the spook that made all other spooks possible dates back to that fateful day 19 years ago when I was, quite literally, forced into this world. Truly the most formative of spooks was when I realized that the single scariest thing in this world is not to be forced out of a dark tunnel head first but, instead, to live. Thanks, mom! She’s sneaky: My mom, being small in stature and somewhat quiet, can pop up and solicit a fright when it is least expected. When I was still in high school and came home at the end of the day, I would bask in the glory of this window of time in which I had no responsibilities. I experienced a sense of belonging within this moment that was in many ways suspended, or liberated, even, from the routine of everyday life. I could thrust into my mouth as many salt and vinegar chips and watch as much “Ellen” as I wanted, without the fear of being asked if I “could do more productive things with my time,” or “Erin, when was the last time you ate anything from the food pyramid that was not some sort of potato?” Alas, when I heard the violent thrust of the front door and the frigid outside air creep its way into our house, I knew my mom had arrived to spook me from my reverie. She knows things about me that I never even knew about myself: You’ve heard this sentiment expressed before and probably thought, “Wow, how sweet!” But the way in which my mom knows me is definitely grounds for spooking. Every time she sees me, she makes a point to look concernedly at me and ask “Erin, you don't do prescriptions drugs, right? I read this terrible story on the news...” And I respond back with the natural “No, of course not, mom,” to reassure her. But the thing is, she won't accept no for an answer. She continues to ask: “You’re sure?” And the more she interrogates me, the more I start to wonder… do I know myself? Would I even know if I was taking prescription drugs? Am I high right now?!? Maybe she's gaslighting me, or maybe she knows something I haven't allowed even myself to realize. She believes in me: Perhaps one of the greatest spooks is that overwhelming weight you feel when someone apparently has the capacity to be proud of you no matter what. The knowledge that a person, for whatever reason, has an unshakable, profound and un-echoed trust in your ability to be a decent, functioning member of society and to overcome any obstacles you face with grace is disconcerting, to say the least. She’s intimidating: I’ve never met a woman so small yet so mighty and so fiercely herself. Perhaps the spookiest thing about her is the character to which I feel the pressure to measure up. These are just some of the ways in which my mom has spooked me. I hope someone spooks you as much as she does me this Halloween season! Erin Clancy is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.