What are your biggest fears? Or are you one of those people who pretend they are fearless?
Well, fear is this huge term that has so many nuances. Like I fear spiders – maybe it would be even more appropriate to say, I hate them. But I also fear that if they are up in the corner above my bed, they come crawling down once I go to sleep. I am scared when I go travelling. However, this is more this feeling of unrest and anticipation and excitement for the things to come. But I also fear that once I come back things will have changed. Former friends have moved to another town or family members have passed on for good. Of course, there are also other examples. Like being scared walking down a dark alley (which might actually be valid) or not being able to watch Scream, because you are afraid of the scenes when they just jump right at you (especially when the music makes clear that something is happening soon, someone is waiting behind that corner and still it makes me jump!).
But seriously, what is our biggest fear? I would say our biggest fear lies within ourselves. We fear ourselves. This sounds a bit drastic. What I mean is that we fear we are not enough. Not good enough to live up to life’s expectations. Fearing not to be enough for someone else. Relationships to other people define who we are. But in order to build up a true and honest connection, we need to let the other person really see us. And this actually is not that easy and can be really, really scary! (Especially, if we would live in a world where everyone looked perfect on TV and the magazines, work, work and more work was the mantra for happiness and a successful life was considered to be one when you had money – wait, we live in that kind of world!) So, how can I tell you that I might not be 100% perfect, maybe I am even imperfect. And maybe I know it and I freak out about it?! How do I open up to other people, if I normally work that hard on closing up all my imperfectness? How to deal with the fear that your potential friends or anyone really might discover that you are imperfect?
Just don’t make friends! (Sorry friends..) It is easy to say, well I just won’t ever open up to anyone. In fact, I don’t need anyone else anyway. I mean it is nice to meet some friends for a cup of coffee, but they don’t need to get involved in my everyday life. I am a strong, independent woman (or man or both).
If totally solitude doesn’t suit you, you could always go for a dog. There is a reason why the proverb says that the best friend of man is the dog. I love my dog, because she loves me – unconditionally. Well, maybe not unconditionally, because if I give her a treat she even loves me more. And she is happy to see me in whatever condition I am – right after getting out of bed with my hair all messy, when I come home in a bad mood, whatever clothes I wear – but especially when I wear sth black (her fur is white…). She doesn’t care about my look, how much I weigh, what grades I get, what work I am doing as long as I spend time with her and make sure that she gets dinner some time around 6pm. Yes, this is a declaration of love to my dog. And it is so easy to love her. And the only disappointment I get is that she also loves all the other people who have a treat for her in their pockets – but she loves them less, I am pretty sure. So who needs people anyway? Okay, maybe it is nice to actually get a real answer from time to time, because reading a dog’s mind gets boring (“more food”, “throw the ball”, “faster”, “MORE FOOD”).
So closing up our hearts might not be the answer (surprise, surprise!). But if we need relationships and the feeling of being connected to make sense of us and life, how can we achieve this without fearing our imperfectness? Maybe it is as simple as this: engaging in a true and honest relationship with other people does require vulnerability. There is no way around it. No way to not fear being laughed at, being laid off, being disappointed – basically feeling vulnerable. And even though it may suck, it is okay.
I came across a TED talk the other day by Brené Brown. It is called the power of vulnerability and yes, it did inspire this post. (But I swear I had already been working on a post on disappointments!) And she presents this interesting thought. We cannot simply numb the bad and negative feelings such as vulnerability, fear and disappointment without numbing our experience of the positive feelings (happiness, love, joy) as well. Thus, when we stay on the safe side, never going beyond our comfort zone, we actually don’t feel better. We might have a feeling of happiness, but it is not a 100%. We might be able to love, but not with our whole heart, not with 100%.
So actually it is okay not be 100% perfect, actually we need to be imperfect and vulnerable in order to be able to experience 100% of life.