Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Being Brave

I'm always afraid. Fear is something which bares down on me constantly. Every day a new fear presents itself and becomes an obstacle for me to overcome.

I never thought of myself as brave or strong, in fact I'm pretty sure that if you asked most people who knew me they would tell you that I was a big ol' scaredy cat, and I would agree. I've always thought of myself as weak, and not just physically. I'm afraid of a lot of things, from the dark and the sea to eyes and melon seeds. But these aren't the fears that control me, that have plagued me from around the age of twelve, if anything, these fears are trivial. It just means that if I'm alone and want melon, I can't cut it. It just means that I don't often walk on piers or go on boats unless forced. But my real fears, the fears that live deep within the pit of my belly, that make my heart race, my palms sweat, and even make me throw up, are much more difficult to bare.

My real fears, the fears that plague me everyday are that of crowds, rejection, socialising and one to one confrontation, along with someone leaving me. I don't fear people dying, I don't fear people leaving me in that way, although it sounds horrible to say, if someone close to me dies, I can reassure myself that they are not choosing to leave me, that they didn't want to. Someone choosing to walk out of my life, now that's a constant fear.

My fear of people, of rejection and crowds has caused problems throughout my teens. It makes me scared to talk to people, let alone have friendships, it makes me scared to ask for anything or ask anyone to hang out in case they say no. For in my head that no isn't a 'No I'm generally busy' or a 'I really wish I could but I have a family commitment' it's a 'No I hate you' or 'No you're worthless'.

The fact is I very rarely get to this stage. I struggle to be in a crowded place without being drunk. On my Open Day at University I lasted two minutes on campus before I had to leave for open spaces. My heart beats faster and my palms get sweaty every time  I go to a seminar or lecture, its as if the people in my classes are right next to me, pushing against me, not on the other side of the room, unaware I exist. 

It wasn't as if my fears weren't unjustified. I'd had friends ditch me for no reason, the excuse 'Oh no I''m busy' turning out to be a lie and genuinely being 'I don't want to go christmas shopping with you but I'm going to go on the exact same day with the same people, just not you'. I've got my hopes up and been rejected so many time that during my teenage years I really had no greater fear, I still don't. And I still can't take the plunge when it comes to friendships and relationships.

All this left me thinking that I was worthless, someone weak and scared who didn't try enough, and then I met this guy at Uni. This guy who had never met anyone like me before, and not in the corny way it sounds. He'd gone to an all boys boarding school for the rich and privileged. The boys there had the world at their fingertips, were confident, and knew how to command a room. Sure he had other friends, but again these were friends he'd known from pre prep, friends who'd gone to private school and had socialising go getter London parents and siblings. Their confidence is everything you'd expect from a Made in Chelsea, Cameron esque upbringing.

Even when he came to Uni his flatmates, although not as extravert as he was, still knew how to socialise, to talk to people and have a laugh. Then he met me. The girl he'd been thrown together with  for a presentation in our first ever seminar of Uni. It had happened that way because we'd both been late, and therefore hadn't had the chance to say hello at the door whilst waiting for the professor like everyone else had. He'd been severely hung over, and therefore quiet, in fact other than his name he hadn't said a word to me, nor I to he, and as soon as we were dismissed he got up and left. I followed him out, and plucked up the courage to say hi, sweaty palms, sickly feeling and all.

As you've probably guessed one thing led to another, a few drunken club nights, and the rest they say is history. Now that he really knows me, now that he knows all my fears and struggles, has seen me try to socialise then run to hide in the toilet, he knows how big of a thing it was for me to say hi to him that first day. 

He's watched my social anxiety and fear of rejection leave me a crumpled crying mess on the floor. He's watched me cry as if in agony at the rejection I've recently experienced from someone I never thought I'd loose. He's watched me throw stuff around my room in anger and frustration at myself. And yet when we go to sleep at night, or in the morning before we head out to those lectures and seminars that are such a struggle for me, he tells me how brave I am. When I'm feeling dejected, for instance if I've tried to go on a night out and lasted all but five minutes before the crowds were too much, he'll remind me that it was I who said hi to him first, and that I've already done so many things that I'm scared of.

And do you know what? I'm starting to believe him. I'm starting to see that although I don't fight lions or jump off buildings, that I am brave. Everyday I overcome my fears. Just going outside and being around lots of people, or talking to someone is an achievement. And the more and more I do it, the more and more I'm starting to see it for myself. He's made me see just how brave I am, and made me realise that although compared to others what I have achieved seems small, in comparison to my life last year, or even last month, I've done something I never could of dreamed of. 

I'm determined to keep battling my fears, to try each and everyday to overcome them, to not let them dictate my life. I won't always succeed, but at least now I realise what I can overcome. 

I am brave. 

I am strong.

And Jasper, if you're reading this, thanks for making me realise it. 

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