Have you ever wanted something so bad but been too afraid to go for it? Have you allowed opportunities pass you by as you looked on helplessly? I’ve cried tears of sadness, confusion and frustration over things I haven’t had the courage or the confidence to pursue.
For me, a fear of rejection has always paralysed me. I would grieve someone before confessing my feelings for them. I ‘ve struggled with a lifelong delusion of not being wanted or loved. I doubted my right to happiness, fulfilment and even a space on this planet.
In my early twenties, if I was in a busy café and there were people waiting to be seated, I would become agitated and hurry my coffee because I clearly thought that I didn’t deserve a place as much as these strangers did.
I assumed that I’d never be lucky enough to experience true love or enter into a functional relationship. I had obviously come to the conclusion that I wasn’t worthy.
I remember a time not so long ago when I was talking to someone I was interested in romantically. As he spoke, I just wanted to reach out and touch him. But I didn’t want to scare him away or make myself vulnerable. So I just smiled and nodded and slapped back the desire, turning it into something that had to be suppressed, a flame that had to be quenched for fear of burning myself.
I could never let a guy know that I was interested in him as the fear of rejection was too great. I couldn’t handle another confirmation that I was unlovable. And so I was left with all these feelings and nowhere to vent them. It was a lose-lose situation. I was either denying myself the pleasure of getting with a wonderful man or losing myself in a fantasy world of misinterpreted hope, where it was possible that, one day, I’d ride into the sunset with a man who had absolutely no interest in me, sunsets or riding.
I often marvelled at the courage of some of my friends who were confident enough to ask men out. One friend told me that, on a night out, she simply grabbed a guy’s face and kissed him. I delighted in her story but the thought of doing something similar caused me to shut down in terror.
I would rather wait to be asked out. However, I recently realised that this meant giving my power and freedom of choice away. I neglected the possibility of selecting whom I wanted to date. I have to admit that this is an area I still need to bring awareness to. I don’t know if I’ll be shoving my face into a man’s any time soon but I’m working on it.
You may also identify that you’re feeling starved of affection, approval, success or enjoyment. Try giving yourself these things. You don’t have to wait until you’ve got a promotion/date with Mr I-think-is-Right/airline tickets for an African safari. Embrace the wondrous nature that is right on your doorstep if you would just open your eyes. Treat yourself to some self-love, understanding and compassion. Talk to yourself. Become your new best friend. Respect the inner strength that has taken you to this point in your life. You are a survivor. You don’t need to be wearing a power suit or a wedding ring before you can deem yourself worthwhile. Delight in the miracle of your very existence.
That’s not to say don’t go for what you want out of life. Set up your own business. Ask your crush out. Plan an exciting trip for your upcoming holidays, be it backpacking around Southeast Asia or rediscovering Ireland’s coastline.
And if you get knocked back, be gentle with yourself. Then congratulate yourself on your courage and determination. Recognise that this particular path is not going to take you to your desired destination and simply change direction. As you release the fear, the baggage you’re carrying on your journey will become lighter. And when you no longer have to lug that heavy weight across your shoulders, you’ll be free to look up and notice the magnificence of your surroundings.
This song resonates with me as I can’t imagine being able to vocalise these lyrics to someone I cared about. Yet…
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