Cotton balls, velvet, and explosions I KNOW that are coming in action movies. All of these things terrify me. I am the loudest person in a group when watching a scary movie. Just ask the group of people that were forced to watch “The Black Swan” and “127 Hours” with me. I’m more of a rom-com girl who loves “Pitch Perfect,” yet oddly enough I LOVE watching “Law and Order: SVU” and “Criminal Minds.”
When she was little, one of my sisters used to be afraid of buttons. She also used to think a monster would grab her toes if she stood too long by the end of the bed and had to jump in quickly. She also had to use lots of covers, even if it was hot, because monsters obviously couldn’t get through the blankets.
My friend Mike said when he was a kid, he was scared that there was a skeleton that lived under his bed with a sword and if he dangled his arms or legs off, he was worried the skeleton would cut them off. He still keeps all of his limbs on the bed today.
My friend Julie didn’t learn to ride a bike until she was 12. She was horribly fearful of knocking her teeth out because she saw another kid do it when she was even younger. She knew how to ride a horse, a quad, and drive a golf cart before she knew how to ride a two-wheel bike.
When I was little, I was a hypochondriac. I used to think if I had a headache, I had a tumor. If I had an earache, there were worms in my ear. Seriously dramatic.
As I got older, my fears got more realistic. I was afraid of what people would think of me, especially in junior high and high school. I was scared whatever I would say would sound stupid, so I kept quiet in class. This backfired on me because people thought I was a snob who couldn’t smile, when really I was trying so hard just to be normal. I never wanted to play sports because I was embarrassed of my lack of hand-eye coordination. I even remember running laps during P.E. in 5th grade as a class. I had somehow, miraculously gotten ahead of everyone. I was running faster than the fastest boy, and he said, “How is M beating all of us right now?” When I heard that, I apologized, I slowed down, and let people go in front of me. I wasn’t confident enough to be the fastest person or be the best at anything. Kinda funny, but kinda sad.
When I got older, relationships and dating scared me the most. When I got my first boyfriend at 16, he asked me, “Will you be my girlfriend?” I hesitated and said, “Can I think about it?” Awful, I know. I had a serious fear of commitment and was maybe even scared of getting too close to someone. “If he knew the real me, would I be rejected?”
As I worked on these issues, I went through most of my early twenties afraid, but knew I had to challenge myself. My biggest fear after I was single for the first time, was will I ever meet anyone again? Will I be alone forever? How do you meet new people? In the first two years of college, making friends, much less meeting guys, was really difficult. If you weren’t in a sorority or a club early on, you basically just went to class and maybe met someone, but lectures weren’t really social hour. Luckily, I had a great group of girlfriends and we met people through house parties and I ended up being just fine. Actually, most of my college experience was spent partying with the ultimate Frisbee team; many of which I felt were like brothers to me.
Still, I wanted to meet more people. I knew I had to grow some balls. So junior year, I forced myself to ride a bike to class in college, (I was scared I would get hit by cars). I took a sailing class with a girlfriend (I was afraid I’d pull the wrong rope and capsize us, which did end up happening, by the way). After college, I tried out for an improv troupe and made the team, (I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough). Slowly, but surely, I decided to f*ck my fears. Every new experience I forced myself to do, petrified me at first, but it started to work out. I started meeting new people, and my confidence grew. Even if it didn’t work out, I realized I was still alive. The main point is that I learned it was ok to be alone, look like an idiot, and to not know what the f*ck you are doing. The biggest risk I took was signing up for online dating, and that worked out fine too.
So, I asked some of my friends, “What are some of your fears about dating and relationships and what have you done to confront them, if anything?”
My friend Jay said that some of his fears were developing a relationship too fast and too soon and having it fizzle out, lack of reciprocity in feelings, or finding out she’s an axe murderer. He also said he was afraid that he would find out later down the line some girls he would date wouldn’t want to have kids. His most recent fear was texting this awesome girl he met on Tinder. He was hesitant, but I told him he seriously needed to just f*ck the fear and go for it. Long story short, it’s going pretty well. I’ll write their Tinder success story on another post.
My good friend Jenny is just this incredibly talented, funny, beautiful girl who is also afraid she won’t have a relationship again. She’s confronted it by being patient and not giving up hope. She joined an adult sports team and met people that way. She goes out to karaoke bars (with me) every chance she can and despite how frustrated she gets, she still tries to meet people. She’s also lived on her own for the first time in 5 years, because we stopped living together when I moved in with my boyfriend. Living alone, having a full time job, and being forced to be an adult is pretty damn scary. She’s signed up for online dating, been on blind dates, and opens herself up to opportunity. She also doesn’t know what the hell she wants to do with her life, career wise, much like the rest of us. I love her and am so proud of her because she’s brave and f*cks fear in the face.
John said he was always the “nice guy.” He was insecure and constantly afraid of rejection from girls. He confronted this by joining the army. He knew he either was not going to come back, or he would come back a different person. After he returned, he saw the world and himself differently. It had given him confidence and he was able to be more flirtatious and outgoing with women.
Robyn was also scared of initiating conversations with guys. She too, was also afraid of rejection. After a devastating breakup, she took a chance and SHE asked a guy out she was interested in at the gym. They are now married with three kids.
Kristin was dating Josh for 8 years in her twenties. She thought he was the man she would marry and have babies with. He never told her he loved her, but she stayed with him because she loved him. At the end, she confronted him about it. He told her he didn’t love her and had no plans of ever marrying her. She faced the unthinkable and yet survived.
Other fears my friends have said they have:
“Falling into a routine, and being too comfortable, not wanting to get dressed up for each other anymore.”
“Long term commitments.”
“Expressing yourself and trying to be real, without getting rejected.”
“Knowing if he truly likes me.”
“Not finding someone as good as the first love, but my friends made me a Tinder account to get back out there.”
“The person seems interested in the beginning and makes a safe place to open up, then when you do, it doesn’t work out, or you realize you aren’t compatible.”
“Going on a date with someone and it turns out to be awful and awkward. Having people think we are together and being embarrassed.”
“Every time my parents fought, I was scared they were going to get a divorce. Now I don’t even like to date. I get extremely anxious at the thought.”
I still have lots of fears, and if you touch me with a cotton ball, I WILL get goosebumps and gag. Seriously though, when it comes to relationships, fear and anxiety are tricky emotions that mess with our minds. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? Even in the worst-case scenario, you will be okay. You will survive. F*ck the fear, and do what scares you, because as the cliché saying goes, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”