I am a scaredy cat. I mean that in two ways: 1) If I were a cat I would be a skittish one that never, ever went down dark alleys and ran away every time someone offered me food, and 2), In life I am more often than not, crippled by the fear of what could happen, what is the most unlikely thing to happen, and what actually never happens but could easily happen to me because you know, I’m hard done by.
This is the general stream of consciousness I have to endure when I’m ever taking on a potentially scary task. Of course in light of my scaredy-cat-ness, a “scary task” could be attending a party, or going for what I want in life. The latter is definitely the thing that has left me crippled with fear most often. I’ve recently created a dilemma for myself regarding what career path to take or not take for example, and I’ve chosen the third option of being frozen in one position, making no decisions about anything and no longer trusting my gut.
Now, even though I have always been somewhat fearful, my gut has always steered me in the right direction, and I’ve felt lucky with it. Most people have to make life decisions based on logic and facts, whereas I just have my digestive system to listen to, and it really never steers me wrong. And because of it, I was a pretty brave child when it came to my emotions. I was genuinely more afraid of regretting the things I didn’t do, than just going for it and throwing myself in the deep end when it came to feelings. As a teenager, that mostly involved boys and telling them I liked them. I will say this about my gut; although it always helped me pinpoint exactly how I felt about situations or people and what next steps I should take, it was completely useless at picking up on how other people felt. Turns out the empathetic side of me was located in other parts of my body and didn’t develop until I was in my twenties.
Anyway, anyway, because of this one note gut reaction thing I had, I totally knew what I wanted and didn’t want; but when it came to boys, I had no idea if they did or didn’t want me, or if they even cared. Thus I had many an unrequited crush – in my sixth form college days I crushed on this boy so badly, half the time I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I told him on a number of occasions quite plainly, exactly how I felt about him and why we should spend the rest of our lives together (at 16 no less). He disregarded all my efforts with what were probably terrible excuses which I apparently stored away to review later, when I needed them. Instead I went ahead and continued my obsession, calling him on the phone, trying to force inside jokes, and watching like a sad sap as he flirted outrageously with every female friend that I had.
And as if that wasn’t quite enough for me to take the hint that perhaps my infatuation was not mutual, he then proceeded to fall in love with my best friend and go on to have a multi-year serious relationship with her. But did I get the hint? Did I bollocks. To be honest, I think I just remained infatuated because I had nothing better to do, until I woke up years later, realising I never had a chance with him in the first place because oh yeah, my feelings were unrequited. I was brave and very, very stupid.
Now I know what you’re thinking – “man, what a loser, no wonder she’s afraid of everything”, but you would be wrong. I learn from my mistakes, very slowly but very surely, I do learn. Unfortunately I learnt not to trust friends for a while from that little ditty, but at least I learnt something. I never said it would be a good something. What I also learnt, was how to be afraid of my feelings. Expressing them seemed to get me into a lot of trouble and out of a lot of opportunities for love, or so my dramatic mind told me back then.
I think facing your fears and your acknowledgement of the fear and that you are in fact, terrified of a lot of things, is scary. Which means I can often get stuck in a loop of terrified and have to distract myself with TV shows in order to gain clarity. Hmm, I say that but actually the TV shows are just a distraction and don’t help with clarity; but it’s like I always say, creation comes from procrastination. I’m procrastinating right now in fact, from what I’m really trying to say. So I’m going to attempt to be genuine here for a minute, because I’m also afraid of procrastinating too much.
The thing I fear the most is that which I have already mentioned; not being loved, not trusting my own feelings, and actually exposing my feelings to possible ridicule and pain. This would explain my previous romantic entanglements, and why I don’t get into them very often. The last man I fell in love with changed me in a lot of ways. I didn’t have the fear with him because we had a 100% honesty rule, which was difficult but also wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more open with another human being; except when making that visit to the lady doctor for lady things, you know. But for all our honesty, at some point we perhaps shared too much, and when the other didn’t react the way we would have liked, it was hard to get past it. And then I felt like he was no longer being honest via lies of omission, and I got paranoid and fearful and super weird/ attractive, minus the attractive. Thus, I quickly became afraid to trust him, and that pretty much ended that.
I had planned to list my fears here and explain myself event by fearful event, thinking that it might help me somehow. But seeing your fears listed in front of you is probably not the way to cure them. Still, everyone is afraid of something, and I’m afraid of a lot of things, so I win right? No, maybe not.
I’m trying to be less fearful, because it can be paralysing if you neither fight nor take flight and instead just freeze until you pee yourself and someone has to clean up for you (in this scenario I’ve been frozen for days and the paramedics have broken down my door to find me lying on the kitchen floor in a human puddle, like we all imagine from time to time).
The only cure for fear of doing anything that elicits emotion that I know of, is to just do the thing you’re afraid of. And I’m afraid of my dreams even though I know I should follow them. I did see a quote the other day in fact that said just that: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” So here’s to surviving with that mantra from now on, or for the next few days at least.
Image credit: Ghost by Olga from the Noun Project