Oprah Winfrey Is Afraid of Balloons

09/10/2013 at 09:00 AM EDT

Oprah Winfrey Is Afraid of Balloons
Oprah Winfrey
Courtesy O, The Oprah Magazine
Some people think balloons make the party. But for Oprah Winfrey, they're her worst nightmare.

For October's O Magazine, the media mogul opens up about a real – and somewhat embarrassing – fear: balloons.

"I don't like balloons, and for my 40th birthday my entire staff decided to surprise me," recalls Winfrey, now 59."I come downstairs and the entire audience is filled with balloons. Literally, I'm stepping over balloons, having to walk through balloons and I'm so, like, 'Oh! When is one going to pop?'"

"It reminds me of gunfire," she went on to say, admitting that being around balloons "really freaks me out."

But Winfrey says she faced those fears: "No way around it – [I] just had to walk through them."

The intimidating sea of balloons became Winfrey's metaphor for facing your fears – the theme of the October issue, which hits newsstands Sept. 17.

"There are a few things that in life, if you allow them to, can really keep you from moving forward," Winfrey says. "You have to really walk through it."

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