FEAR (verb) Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide.
This post is for you, but mostly for me. Being an almost 26 year old woman I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. At a certain age, people start to ask questions. People start to worry. People start trying to set you up with their cousin. I am going to spare you the details, but like the common cliche of my generation, I would call myself a bit quirky. Unlike Zooey Deschanel who has mastered wavy hair, sexy prescription glasses, and (somehow) the perfect amount of still tasteful cleavage; for the rest of us semi awkward-dorks the world of dating means we are entering a world of pain. Even an actual date is a rarity at this point, which is a shame because introductions late night at a bar don’t really set you up for making the best decisions. For some reason, I can’t help but think of my 26th birthday. When did I start panicking? Where did this fear come from? Most importantly, what was it doing to me?
At 25, half of all the people I knew began wandering whole heartedly into the seemingly infinite abyss that is marriage. For the other half, this became increasingly more apparent. I used to hear Queen in my head as soon as I saw another engaged couple on my newsfeed and cheers to my singledom. And then, one time, I didn’t.
Somewhere along the way I became one of the others. Am I going to end up alone with 4 dogs watching the Notebook in an infinite loop? Too much? It’s crossed my mind. I worry I am too weird. Sure I make up lots of words and I talk to animals which can be seen as endearing but I also [gun to my head] can’t walk in heels, have anxiety about anything involving what most people simply refer to as ‘outdoor activities’, and sleep with a teddy bear. Most of the time you determine early on that someone isn’t right for you/vice versa. Like I said, dating is hard and as Dr. Seus said all it really is finding someone who mirrors your own weirdness in a way that makes your heart less heavy. So, on the rare occurrence that someone accepts all of the less than glamorous traits I listed above, I should be happy. In fact, it is all downhill from there.
When I think about dating I think about fear. The moment I realize that I am interested in someone the first thing I feel is a lump in my throat and panic in my chest. Not comfort, not relief, not even butterflies… just a deep sense of a looming expiration date. By default, I assume things won’t work out. I am by all means a sensible, happy, and confident person, yet when mulling over some of my most recent dating habits the bad outweighed the good. I was realizing it may have been me.
We all do things to act out. Some more hurtful than others. Some more deliberate than others. Some easier to remember than others. But in the end, it all does nothing but work against you. For me, acting out could be boiled down to fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of resentment. But I wasn’t always this way. At a certain point a switch was flipped and I went from embracing my stray-dog-freedom to being terrified of it. The notion of I can do whatever I want/I can go wherever I want/I am on my own stopped making me smile and began to make me take deep breaths.
Reflecting on my past, fear has been the sole culprit in my own demolition of what might have happened. Whether it was needing reassurance, one too many beers, or whatever next-level shit that clearly didn’t need to be tossed in, I had been facing countless relationships with everything but an actual sword. At a certain point, the blade would pierce, the house of cards would fall, and I would pick myself up and continue to repeat the same habits and wait for it to start again. Fear is a relentless plague, but I’m finally beginning to realize above all else it is bullshit.
We’ve all heard that in relationships there is a breaking point. A line is crossed and there is no recovery. If two people were to get together after this point it would be in vain because there is no coming back from that. Two people often go their separate ways and are supposed to be left feeling like ultimately that was the right move to spare their hearts from more pain. I am not talking about casual relationships or even the majority of relationships, but for people who we have truly fallen in love with someone, the breaking point is getting easier and easier to reach. That is fear at its strongest point. We are so afraid of getting hurt that we would go so far as deny love in order to ensure that our hearts remain in tact. If on your death bead your heart boasts no scars then you are dying with regrets. With what ifs. With only the name of someone you never let in. Fear will have you end up alone. Fear is what we’ve somehow deemed more important than saying ‘fuck it’ and accepting our past mistakes/lovers/arguments/issues without letting them dictate our future.
As 26 looms around the corner I will embrace it, as with the rest of my strange habits and tendency to gravitate towards animals rather than humans. Accept. Move on. Transcend. This entry was for you, but mostly for me. Find what you mask and let it free you.
“Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself.” -Samuel Butler