For a really long time, I couldn’t define what my greatest fear was. It wasn’t one of the common ones, like the fear of height, claustrophobia, or the fear of public speaking, that much I could tell. And although snakes kind of scared me, I was pretty sure that wasn’t it. It took me some time to figure it out, but eventually, I came to a conclusion. My biggest fear is the fear of rejection.
I wish people would have been more aware to this fear. Just because it’s not as solid as the fear of height doesn’t make it less of a fear. And if only there were more awareness to this issue, people like me wouldn’t need to spend hours in self-loathing, trying to figure out what is so wrong with them that they can’t just approach people randomly, or talk to a person they like.
Yes, I figured it out eventually, on my own, but it doesn’t have to be like that. If we share our knowledge, if we acknowledge it as an actual fear and understand, maybe we can help others that are going through the same thing.
So on that note, I want to share my experience with you and explain how I deal with my fear.
I don’t know if or when it started. Maybe it was with me all along, but I tend to believe something had triggered this fear in me. Maybe it was the kids who used to laugh at my unibrow in 5th grade, maybe it was that through my childhood I was always felt like a bit of an outsider, maybe it was the other kids that used to laugh at me in 6th or 7th grade for no apparent reason but that I looked a little like a boy and never knew the right thing to wear. Life wasn’t easy during elementary school.
In 8th grade things started to change, though. I changed my looks a little bit, found the right things to wear, lost some weight, and basically did what I could to fit in. I became the funny girl because having kids laughing at me was kind of regular for me and when it was done in affection, when I laughed along, it was better. I felt more popular, more equal. And I was, in a way. Going to school wasn’t a torture anymore.
But the real change was when I went to high school and had to meet new people, make new friends. That’s when my fear started to show up, really. Everybody was new, but some of them came in groups and I came alone. And it didn’t help that some of the kids that used to bully me through elementary school went to this school, too.
I couldn’t bring myself to talk to the people that I wanted to talk to, but that was good, in a sense. Because the kind of friendship I was looking for was the only kind of friendship that I remembered. Friendship built on laughing. At me. It’s not that my former friendships weren’t real, it’s that I strived for a friendship where I could be taken seriously. Not get laughed at. I wanted something deeper. And I found the right people for me, eventually. I found the kind of friendship that I unconsciously strived for.
Anyway, there was this boy that liked me and I was fluttered and sort of wanted to explore. But I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him. I could text him and we would have really long conversations in WhatsApp but I could never talk to him face to face. I would avoid him and avoid his looks and never talk to him unless we were both with friends, and even then, a few sentences at a time, and I would never look him in the eye. I never really knew him because you can’t get to know people that way and I ended up hurting him and I was so sorry.
I couldn’t smile back at people who smiled at me in the hallway. I wasn’t nice because I was afraid that the other person wouldn’t be nice to me. And I was afraid to really talk to my friends, whom I was just getting to know, because that was the only way of communication that I knew, laughing and pretending and never being serious.
And at the same time I couldn’t stop talking to my old friends. I acted the way they expected me to act and did what was expected of me to do. I was miserable. Because I didn’t want to hurt them, but more than that, because I didn’t want them to hate me. Be rejected by them. And I ended up hurting them even more.
But at some point I began to think about it. What was my greatest fear? I knew what it was but I couldn’t define it. And after doing some hard thinking, it came to me. And once you define the problem, you can treat it.
So after a few years of exploring, experimenting, and understanding my fear I have a few tips for you to fight your fear.
- Negative thoughts – find your negative and restrictive thoughts and eliminate them. All they are good for is destroying your self-evaluation and massing up your judgement. Instead, think about the positive. See all that is great about you instead of seeing the bad. You can even make a list or ask a close person, they could see things from a totally different point of view than yours.
- There could be a million reasons – if they do reject you, think about the reasons they had to do so instead of why you are not good enough, for example, if you smiled at someone and they didn’t smile back they could be in a hurry, they might be occupied, they might have not noticed, and maybe they even have the same fears as you do.
- You’re beautiful – know that if they do reject you it doesn’t mean anything about you. It means something about them. It doesn’t mean you are not good enough, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. Everyone is different and that’s okay. If they can’t see the beauty in you it’s their loss. Maybe they are not the right person for you. At least you know you tried and wouldn’t live making speculations about what would have happened if you had tried.
- It’s not the end of the world – see that rejection is not always the end of the world. In a lot of cases these are minor things like asking for a pen. Even if they did reject you, you could move on with your life and nothing happened.
- Comparing yourself to others – don’t compare yourself to other people. Don’t measure your success according to other people’s success. Again, everyone is different. We all have different abilities and we all come from different backgrounds, and you can never know how hard the other person is working to reach their goal.
- Talk about it – you can talk about your fear. You can share it with someone. You don’t have to hide from it, you can embrace it and accept it. It will make it much easier on you to do what you wish.
- Get out of your comfort zone! Force yourself to do what you want, fight the little voice in your head that tells you otherwise. Yes, you can. You’ll find it hard the first time but the more you try, the more you experiment, the easier it gets.
- Don’t let the past define your future. You are in charge of your own fate.
- Positivity – surround yourself with a supportive, positive environment. Negativity is only going to bring you down.
- Remember that the world can end at any given moment – sounds depressing, right? But when you think about it, it’s true. Everything in this world has the ability to kill us. And we know so little about the universe. So every time you encounter something you might regret not doing – do it. Don’t postpone. Today might be your last day on this earth.