I saw this photo on the front page of weheartit the other day, and after an initial, "Yup. I recognize that fear," I realized that in fact I'm not afraid of this anymore.
On the contrary, lately I've been feeling so much more confident about my ability to make friends, keep friends, and really enjoy the strong and supportive relationships I have in my life. Most of this confidence-building has been slow, the work of almost a year of therapy, supplemented by six months of yoga and some major, consciously-made changes in my social group.
Therapy and yoga manage to effect the same sort of change in my overall demeanor and attitude; when they're both a part of my week I get verbal and physical affirmation that every bit of effort does make a difference and that I have a major store of strength that can help me accomplish whatever I want to do, if I'm willing to accept that change happens slowly. Yoga has also been teaching me in a very tangible way the importance of letting go of expecting perfection: my instructor said at one point, "Just give 100%" and it was such a crazy revelation that matched something I had learned in therapy a few weeks earlier, that everything I'm already doing actually is enough, even if not everyone around me perceives it that way. In so many arenas, we're encouraged or expected to give 110%, to push ourselves to perform perfectly and to do more, even if that means overextending ourselves and sacrificing/overlooking a sense of our own inherent value. Instead we can choose to participate in activities that require and reward constant effort instead of performance and to surround ourselves with the people who see and appreciate our effort.
Devoting my time to new friends and new kinds of plans has made an incredible difference, too, over the course of this year. I've been doing my best of avoid those people who are a source of negativity, who are overly critical of others and who consequently drain my energies. There's a big difference between griping about things that can be changed in order to get yourself motivated to make changes and just griping about everything and continually harping on the things that you can't or shouldn't change, particularly other people. Over the last month I've made a commitment to myself to avoid the unproductively negative as much as possible. The result is more energy, more happiness, and more hope, all of which contribute to an overall feeling of gratitude for where I am and confidence about my ability to have the sort of future I want.
In any case, I'm no longer terrified of being left all alone in the end, and it's so freeing. My more positive attitude allows me to see and be grateful for the people who are around me who are making an effort to be positive and gracious and who notice the effort I make, and I'm no longer trying to twist myself into all sorts of weird shapes in an attempt to please and attract people whose negativity prevents them from appreciating what's around them and would only end up making me feel less-than-valuable anyway. I'm far more confident that since I am most comfortable and happy being in mutually supportive relationships with people and I'm getting more comfortable with just being myself and noticing the good in others, those kinds of relationships are bound to be part of my life.
Phew, that was a long post! Thanks for reading and for the part you as readers have been playing in this journey. Your supportive comments on reflective posts, your compliments about my knitting and spinning, and your willingness to join in the weekly '10 Things' gratitude lists have been so wonderful!!!
Have you overcome any major fears lately, or are there any anxieties that you continue to struggle with? What small steps do you take to deal with your fears?