December 11, 2013

My Biggest Fear was Being Alone. ~ Jennifer Twardowski

About six to seven years ago, my boyfriend at the time asked me the question, “What is your biggest fear?”

He rather quickly told me that his biggest fear was failure, so I felt pressed to answer.

Though I very easily empathized with his biggest fear, I knew it wasn’t quite my biggest fear. “My biggest fear is being alone,” I responded very honestly. His facial expression and body movements immediately told me that he felt that I was needy and dependent so I quickly added, “in the long term.”

That’s how I was back then—constantly reading other people’s emotions so that I could “change” myself just enough to avoid being criticized or rejected. It was all about pleasing other people, at the expense of my own authenticity.

Though I didn’t even want to admit it to myself, the truth was that I was, in fact, scared of being alone.

A month or two before, I had transferred to my university to complete my bachelor’s degree. I was living in a dorm room by myself, though I was hardly ever actually in my own dorm room.

It was the very first time in my life that I had ever lived by myself and though I never admitted it back then, I wasn’t taking it very well; I was constantly reaching out to friends or people I just met for things to do.

There was a voice in my head that kept saying, “It’s not good to be alone—you need to be social and get yourself out there.”

Despite my natural tendencies toward introversion, I was certainly not content with living by myself.  The simple act of eating dinner by myself in the cafeteria brought up feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

I was afraid of the idea that others may be judging me for eating alone—that maybe there was something wrong with me and that’s why I was alone.

I couldn’t sit with these emotions. I just didn’t want to deal with it, so I kept following this inner desire to go be around people. It didn’t matter if I was actually having a quality, authentic and real connection with someone else or not—I just wanted someone there to help fill my inner void.

I reached out to my boyfriend and friends constantly. I was always busy doing things with them and, often times, I naturally depended on other people to guide me and teach me how I should act and behave.

I wanted to keep others happy and avoid any possible rejection, so I tried to avoid conflict at all costs.

I didn’t care about really taking charge in my own life and truly being my own unique self. I was like a little puppy who was open and ready to be trained by anyone I felt drawn to.

If someone were Jewish, then I’d learn all about it from that person and their culture so I could take their views as my own. If someone believed pigs could fly, I’d support them in that belief so much that I would take on that belief myself just to avoid them potentially criticizing me.

I was a complete chameleon—all because I was terrified of being alone.

We have all done this at some point or another. We feel lonely so we reach out to someone—anyone—to be around whether the relationship has any authentic depth to it or not. In high school we may have gone along with the current fashion trend to avoid being rejected by our peers. In college we may have gone out drinking til 4 a.m. just to feel a sense of belonging with others.

The trouble with this is that, because our actions are driven by this hope to fill our own inner void, the relationships themselves lack the foundation needed to experience genuine intimacy.

We may find ourselves in relationships that we don’t find very fulfilling. We may hope for something with more meaning and authenticity, but we feel trapped.

There are mainly two key things that we need to do in order to really shift from a fear-based place of “I’m scared of being alone” to a love-based place that can experience genuine intimacy.

The first is to be authentic and true to ourselves. We have to recognize, acknowledge, and be accountable for our own thoughts and feelings. Be willing to accept the fact that each and every single one of us is very unique and be willing to express that uniqueness to the world.

The second is to approach our relationships with the thought of, “Can I receive what I truly deserve in this relationship?” rather than “Will this person accept me?” We have to express our true selves and only allow people into our lives who can accept and support us for who we truly are rather than what they want us to be.

We have to know what we are worth.

We have to be comfortable in our own skin and be willing to be who we truly are, unapologetically. We have to love ourselves unconditionally and, through that love, be willing to seek out what our hearts truly desire—both in our relationships and in our life choices.

We fear being alone not because we are incomplete, but because we fear being alone with our own inner powerful light. We fear the overpowering all-encompassing love that is within us. It is when we give our inner light more of our time and attention that we and those around us begin to truly change.

Rejection and being alone isn’t the worst thing in the world—not allowing your genuine self to shine is.

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Assistant Editor: Terri Tremblett/Editor: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: Flickr}

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