A few years ago, I wrote some blogs about my biggest fears to celebrate the release of Empath, a book about a girl and her anxiety dragon. Two years later, I’m looking back on the fears I used to have to see how they stack up. Today, my fear of rejection.
I am Afraid of Rejection
Originally Published May 2015
You’ve probably noticed a theme lately of these ‘fear’ blog posts and they all have to do with other people. Missing out, sex, being alone, death – all of these really center on my most basic fear of being rejected.
When I say “rejected” what I mean is that I’m afraid people secretly hate me, and don’t want to be with me–ever. Which is interesting because I actually enjoy spending time with myself for the most part lazing about on the couch. Life is great when I don’t have to wear a bra (see #campaignfornopants).
But when I’m around other people, all of those bad behaviors from before my quarter life crisis return. I love myself, but I’m convinced that there’s no way anyone else “gets” me.
The truth of the matter is, it’s easier and less stressful to spend my time locked away in my own little hobbit hole than to put myself out there to be rejected. “You know it’s going to happen anyway, so save yourself the heartbreak and just don’t do it.”
When someone appears to be halfway interested in me, of course my initial response is, “Don’t fuck this up. Don’t be yourself. You’ll drive them away.”
I’m super self-doubting, so I become super nervous. Because I’m super nervous, I become super awkward. And because I’m super awkward, I hate my awkward self. The cycle continues until I am just convinced that the object of my affections is going to leave at any second.
So when they invariably do, the self-hating voices are empowered and then we go again the next time I’m infatuated with someone. So to save myself the heartache, I keep myself locked away.
It’s safe here. And yet…as much as I like being alone, I still want a partner.
The Problem with People
Relationships–good relationships–are precious commodities. Just because a guy likes me doesn’t mean I’m immediately going to jump into his arms. There has to be a spark on my end, and if it’s not there, it’s not there.
But when it is there and it’s two-sided, that’s when the fear creeps in. And the worst part – the part that frustrates me the most – is that whether they like the person that I am or not is totally out of my control. Sure, I can put on make-up and wear a low cut shirt and all of that, but sooner or later, they’re going to see me in my jammies. Sooner or later, they’re going to see how irrational and unpredictable my brain can be. Sooner or later, I’m going to yell at them because I have low blood sugar and I can’t seem to stop long enough to get food.
Never Again… Maybe
What is the most painful is when I have let someone in, I do trust them, and then they reject the whole person that I am. And that, my friends, is the truth of why it took me so damned long to accept that The Ex and I had broke up.
I felt like I was safe with him, that I could be my naked self (hello fear of intimacy) and I thought he loved the whole of me. And to accept that he didn’t was one of the most painfully difficult realizations that I’ve ever had.
I don’t miss my ex and I don’t want him back. But at the same time, I do want him to come back so I don’t have to face the fact that the one person I could count on to never reject me…rejected me. Even now, two years later, that pain hasn’t gotten any less terrible.
Here’s the kicker: I haven’t had a serious relationship since then, which scares me more than anything else (Edit 2017: Had one, lost it) And I’m afraid that because I’m too afraid of rejection, I won’t ever open up. And, as I said last week, I’m afraid because I can’t open up, I’m going to be alone forever.
Dealing With It
The way to slay this fear is to put myself out there more. To just suck it up and be confident enough in my own skin to be okay when someone doesn’t like the true, honest person that I am. And also to remind myself that being single doesn’t mean I’m less of a person, less of a human being, less successful. Being in a relationship is not the only way to find true happiness.
Unfortunately, in the depths of my subconscious, I don’t believe that. Be it years of conditioning, media messages, or just my own biological need, I desire to be with someone else. Which is why I continue to place the power of my happiness in the hands of others. And why I continue to be terrified that they’ll reject me.
Slay Your Fears: Two Years Later
There’s a lot of truth still in this blog post. I’ve put myself out there a few more times, but nothing’s really stuck. Now, over 30, I’m feeling the pressure to Couple more than ever, especially since I’m surrounded by Happy Couples with Babies.
I’ve spent my time nurturing the non-romantic relationships available here. My focus has been on reestablishing close friendships with my bestie, other high school friends, my cousins, and my parents. The folks who know me and love me no matter what.
But I have reverted a little bit. I put myself out there in a semi-serious relationship. Thought things might work out for ol’ Sush. Then, right before Christmas: “I love you, but I don’t want to be with you.”
This time, the hurt was painful, fresh, and over quickly. What’s lasted is the idea that I probably won’t ever find someone to share my life with–and being okay with it. Now that I’m in my thirties, I no longer crave the “normal” relationship, or the white wedding or any of that. I do want kids, and I’m working to get myself in a position where I can do that solo.
I’m actually fairly proud of the work I’ve done in this area. I really don’t care if someone likes me or not, because I have a lot going for me. Which is nice…