Fighting Fear

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The end of the semester is not just focused around finals and closing the residence halls, but also around staff evaluations. I have always enjoyed the conversations that happen in evaluations-it’s a chance for me to tell my staff the things that they’re good at and push them in a different way. I feel my Developer strength really plays into this-I typically say something to my staff members about themselves and they look at me and go, “Wow, you’re right.” I am often surprised at how strong my intuition is, but it never really fails me.

One thing that I have noticed through my three years completing these evaluations has really made me think about how we all perceive ourselves and how other people perceive us. So often, I have to tell people that I see so much potential that they are not using. I also have to tell them that the expectations they have for themselves are so much higher than my own, or my department’s. I had chalked it up to be a factor of our student population (first generation, blue-collar), but I’m starting to wonder if it’s actually something else.

I have been doing a lot of work recently on myself and read a book called The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabrielle Bernstein. In it, it talks a lot about how we let fear hold us back from a lot of things, not even intentionally. It made me think a lot about my life up until this point and how I have let fear hold me back from so many things…one of those things being my career. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and it’s important work, and I adore my students. It’s just that I don’t think this is what I was ever meant to be doing. Music is my true passion, but I’ve never had time to devote to it the way that I want to and that’s because I was never allowed to pursue it fully. One of those reasons was the fear that I wouldn’t “make it”. The other was the fear that I wasn’t good enough. Another was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to support myself. Fear drove me away from the one thing that I feel is my absolute calling.

I have also come to realize how much fear has held me back personally. I’ve been afraid to put myself out there, afraid to meet new people, afraid to do things that I really want to do because ultimately I am afraid of not being accepted. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of being told that I’m not good enough. As a result, I have let so many opportunities pass me by, and now all I can do is sit here and wonder what would have happened.

But I don’t think I’m the only one who does this. I think MOST of us do this. We’re told to go after your dreams and pursue them, but we’re also told of the consequences of doing that. “Don’t be too bossy. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t do this and don’t do that.” Often times the things we most desire are the things that society tells us we shouldn’t or can’t do. But here’s the kicker-deep down, we all know this. We know that we hold ourselves back. We are all aware that there are things in life that we can do better, be better at, things we wish we could achieve but we’re afraid of it or the consequences. And we are right to weigh the options and consider all of the outcomes. But I think that we see ourselves differently than how other people actually see us, and our self-perception plays much too big a part in our minds. Our self-perception skews our capacity to achieve.

It makes me sad that my student staff don’t see how amazing and wonderful they are. I try to tell them how much potential they have in their evaluations. Whether or not they choose to use it is up to them. All I know is I want to get them, and myself, out of our comfort zones. I want us all to push past the fear. Who knows what we’ll be able to do when that happens.

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Embracing the Single Life.

*snaps*

I’ve got a confession to make-I’ve never ever ever been comfortable with being single.

I’ve been single for my entire life, but I have always hated it. (Well, hate’s a strong word I guess…regardless). I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship, wanted someone to share this life with. I’ve been so impatient, believing that someone’s going to come around the corner one day and then I’ll be able to say Oh, there you are.  Here’s the thing: I’m afraid of being alone for the rest of my life. Not many people have really shown an interest in being with me, and that has contributed to my fear. I can honestly say it is the thing that worries me the most…because I’ve done the single thing for my entire life and I’ve never been satisfied by it. To face an entire lifetime of it FREAKS ME OUT. I know that there’s more. I know that I have so much love to give. I just don’t know why no one wants it.

This fear started very young. Every single place I’ve ever gone, I think “Oh, maybe I’ll meet someone there.” It doesn’t matter where it was-the mall, the grocery store, even church camp-I found myself fantasizing that I would meet someone and I’d live happily ever after. What a crock. Not the fact that that happens, but the fact that I literally would fantasize about it every. single. time.

Name the dating site, and I’ve tried it. I’ve gotten NOTHING. NADA. Well, I actually shouldn’t say “nothing”. I got one date with someone who I was not very attracted to, but wanted to give a shot because hey, he was willing and he seemed nice. The most recent try has frustrated me to no end. I feel like most of the people I come into contact want one thing and one thing only…and that’s not something that I am going to give them right away. I want romance. I want to be wooed, for God’s sake. Are there no men who want that as well?!

Do I have too high of standards? No, I don’t think so. I think the man that I want and need in my life is out there…just not anywhere around me apparently. I used to be afraid that no one would want me because of the way that I look, and sometimes I still think it turns some guys away, but I think that everyone has their “thing” that they’re not attracted to, and I can’t fault people for that. I can fault them for not being open-minded enough, but anyway.  Am I too independent? I mean, here’s the thing: when I show interest in someone, it’s not because I need them, it’s because I WANT them. I haven’t necessarily said that aloud to anyone, but do I give off the vibe of not needing anyone? Is that turning people away? I’m not sure.

So why does this all matter? I mean, I know that I can be happy being single. I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now. I’ve done so much growing over the past three years. I’m more confident, more sure of myself, and I’ve done things I never thought I could do. I’ve been able to travel a lot, and discovered I love it. Living by myself has been a really great experience, and I’ve learned to depend on me. I freaking packed up and moved my life to Virginia for two years, for goodness sake. I would have never been able to do that had I been in a relationship-or it would have made my relationship ten times harder if I had been. Actually, it was one of the reasons why I decided to go to Virginia: besides family and friends I had nothing holding me back, so why not take the opportunity?

Even though I’m so grateful for everything I have in my life right now, and I know that I am so incredibly lucky to be where I am, something still feels like it’s missing. I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel whole. I’m not satisfied. I don’t want to believe it’s a relationship. I don’t want to think that I need a relationship in my life to feel complete. I know that in order for any relationship to work I need to be complete and whole first. But something feels just off-kilter for me right now. I want to fill the hole…I just don’t know what will fill it.

Therefore, I have decided to stop disliking my single-ness and just embrace it. I don’t think I’ve ever really done that before-as much as I want to believe I have, I know it’s not true. I’ve constantly looked for a relationship, or I’ve thought about being in a relationship, or planned for what I want my future relationship to look like, or thought about why I’m not in a relationship yet. I will say that I have adjusted to being single-moving to a new place with no one else I knew around me forced me to get used to doing things alone. I’m now comfortable shopping, eating in restaurants, and even taking mini-vacations by myself-and I know not many people can say that.  But I don’t think I ever fully enjoyed it-I always wished I didn’t have to be or wondered what other people thought about me while doing those things.  I just need to become more comfortable with my single-ness and truly enjoy it, and not worry about being single. I tell people all the time-“You’re still so young! You’ll find someone!” But I have never told that to myself-partially because I never believed I would. But I know that someone is out there who will be everything that I want…yet perhaps I’m not quite ready for it yet. It could have to do with this discomfort I’m feeling. I may think I’m ready for a relationship, but maybe I still have more work to do. Maybe that’s what Life is trying to tell me. So you know what, Life? I’m going to listen.

I’m making a commitment to not focus on relationships or dating, and just focus on me and myself. I will probably still feel lonely sometimes. I will probably still wish that I had someone next to me. But I’m not going to hone in on those feelings. I’m going to feel them and let them pass-because I have a different focus right now. And who knows-a lot of people say love happens when you’re not looking. Well, I won’t be looking-but it’s not the reason why I’m not looking. I need to figure out what will satisfy me, and become my own person without wondering who I’d be in a relationship. And maybe in embracing my singleness I’ll find I’m truly and finally ready to enter into a relationship-but at the end of all this if I’m not, I also need to know that I’ll be okay.