So, I was talking to someone the other day, and they asked me what I was afraid of. And of course, my instinctive reaction was to say, ‘Thunderstorms’. That, and horror movies, have always been the two things I couldn’t deal with – and things that most people know me to not like. More often than not, the expression I was left with during either was always something like this:
I know, laughable. But I kid you not, I am all kinds of uncomfortable when either of these two instances occur in my life!
But, when I thought about it more seriously, about what it was that caused me an intense fear, it made me reflect on my life. I do that sometimes, it helps me gain clarity on what I’m thinking about. It got personal, maybe more than I had bargained for. It took me a while to get around it, but I realised…My biggest fear, that always scared me for the longest time, was not being enough.
I know I’m not alone in having this fear. Most (if not all) women and men are insecure about some aspect of theirs. They may feel they’re not sexy enough, not athletic enough, not hipster enough, not fair enough, not tanned enough…the highly superficial list goes on. But yeah, I have to admit, it’s the most crippling feeling ever.
When have I felt like this? All through my life. Society has a set of rules it sets, that people – and in my case particularly, women – are expected to conform to. I was never one of the conformists, for whatever reason. I started off being okay with that, but there were a lot of people who weren’t. I was ridiculed growing up, from a very young age, about the way I looked, the things I did – I wasn’t part of the “cool” crowd, or the “popular” crowd. Sometimes, even my family and friends made jokes at my expense. I would take it all in my stride, but as time passed, my faith in myself began to dwindle. I began to believe I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t smart enough to be a top student. I wasn’t pretty enough to have a boy want to talk to me, or talented enough for any workplace to take me seriously. The worst I think was when I felt I wasn’t good enough at life to make my parents proud of me.
And it got to me enough to want to stay on the sidelines. I chose to be behind the scenes, and be the one that hid from everything and everyone, as long as I could do things like writing and reading; things that made me happy. It was a time that took me to a bit of a dark place, one that I really didn’t like. But when I got to the other side of it, I was glad. With some help from some good people, my writing, and a stronger heart and soul, I tried to turn things around as much as I could.
I realised that I had a soul that was damaged enough to not want someone else go through the same thing I did, so I became the best kind of friend anyone could ask for – the one who listened. I realised there were too many toxic people in my life that I needed to walk away from, and that is what I started to do. I realised I had the skill and talent to turn anything I heard and observed into a story worth telling, so I poured all that I had into my writing. I was made to realise (by some wonderful people) that I had a personality that could win over almost anyone if I tried, so try I did. I was also made to realise that I just hadn’t recognised I was beautiful – not just on the inside, but the outside as well. Do you know how liberating and soul-freeing that is? I can tell you, it is very much so.
I think I’ve been lucky to have things turn around like that for me. It took a long while (nearly 18 years since it all first started) for it all to change, but luckily, it did. Not everyone has that kind of luck, and you hear of horrid things that happen to a whole lot of people who could not take the pressure to conform anymore. To be what they weren’t. To be a square peg being forced into a round hole. To not deal with what scared them the most.
To anyone who identifies with this as they read, I only say this. One day, I recognised what I was afraid of. I chose to surround myself with more people that raised me up, than brought me down. And that is the day I started healing. I may have had some dips in that healing process, but I always come out stronger on the other side. It’s a continuous process, and someday, you will make it through. One day, it gets better. Just start with that basic question…
What are you afraid of, and what can you do to change it?