For most of my life I’ve been shy. It’s no secret – anybody who knew me growing up definitely knew this about me. Being the center of attention has never been at the top of my list of favorite things. Especially around people I don’t know or when it comes to public speaking.
The last year or two I’ve definitely grown as an individual. It’s pretty amazing how life experiences can make you a different person [if you let them – and you should].
Often times we make the same mistakes over and over again. We never learn from them or allow ourselves to learn from them. And we sit around and wonder why we do these things to ourselves. Why the self destruction?
Let’s be honest for a minute here. Isn’t it really because deep down some of us love the drama? Is it because we’re afraid that if we find a sense of normalcy that life will just be plain boring?
My adult life [let’s assume 18 is “adult” in this situation] has been a series of bad boyfriends intermixed with spells of singledom and wildness. And for what? What has it brought me? What has it helped me to accomplish?
A lot, actually. And maybe not right away – in fact, it’s taken me ten years to really realize my self-worth. But it’s the experiences I’ve had that have brought me to this point today.
Two weeks ago I went on a date with a new guy. A guy from the internet, yes. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit it because this is the way we are now. First world dating, that is.
Anyway, we spent five hours in sweat pants eating sandwiches and talking. Hands down one of the best dates I’ve been on so far [not that I’ve been on too many, mind you, but regardless]. Over the course of the five hours, one of the things he asked me that really resonated in my mind was, “What are your biggest fears?” Having spent ten years with boyfriends who preferred partying, drinking and drugs to, you know, speaking, I wasn’t accustomed to having an actual real conversation with a guy. Or, really, having somebody take an interest in anything except for my physical appearance, like, oh – I don’t know – my BRAIN.
Let me tell you – it was seriously refreshing.
And attractive. Really attractive.
And at first I didn’t know how to answer the question.
What are my biggest fears? Immediately, I thought, “death.” But with my grandmother passing away earlier this year, I realized that it was no longer a fear of mine. Having a loved one pass on made me strangely at peace with the idea of someday inevitably losing my own life as well.
So what else, then? I hate the actual feeling of fear. I don’t like to be scared. Scary movies, haunted houses, creepy situations – those are things that are “fears.” But they aren’t life altering. They aren’t things that linger in the back of my mind every day and keep me from living my life.
It took me two weeks, and today it finally dawned on me.
I fear feelings. I fear letting my guard down. I fear letting my walls down. I fear letting somebody into my heart because he might have the potential to really hurt me. I fear emotional pain.
I’m generally a pretty hard-hearted individual. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I hate crying. When it comes to dating, if I’m not into you, you’ll know it. I’m not going to waste my time. I’m not going to reveal too much of myself because I don’t see the point and I don’t like you enough to give you more than my surface. Some people may see that as a game. But it’s not a game – I’m not playing hard to get – I just don’t like you.
But, in the extremely rare circumstance that I actually do like somebody, I’m all in. I love hard. Because if you’re going to expose somebody to all of your inner workings and the things that make you tick, you might as well give them your all, right? What’s the point of holding back? What do you have to lose? This could be why I’ve only had a few boyfriends in my day. I don’t ever trust my heart enough to let a man in.
YES – sometimes we get hurt by the people we care about. I’ve been hurt by many guys I’ve dated as well as girl friends, and vice-versa of course. But I can’t let the fear of feeling that pain again keep me from potentially wonderful experiences. Because it won’t kill me. Yes, it’s cliche – but it won’t kill me, it will make me stronger.
I constantly have to remind myself not to let past relationships set the precedent for future ones. The beauty of this planet is that no two people are the same. And while I often times forget this, it is ever evident as I am exposed to more and more new people every single day.
I will leave you with this – don’t let your fears stand in your way. Because at the end of the day that’s all they are: fears. A single word. An idea. A mental block. They aren’t tangible. You can’t hold them. They aren’t a physical wall stopping you from living your life [although sometimes that would be easier because we could just take a mallet to it and knock it down]. Only you are keeping yourself from living your life to the fullest. It’s taken me a long time to realize this and to even begin to start to understand this about myself, but I’m learning. Every single day.