“What are you so afraid of?”
This was a question we were asked as part of a webinar hosted by Hannah Brencher last night. She started doing this online series called Cravings; last night’s class was the 2nd one.
The topic of this particular class was community.
I’ve written about community here before… primarily about how much I suck at it. Because I do.
Part of me is incredibly happy by myself, introverting all day, every day.
The other part of me is lonely. And is wanting more than a community on the screen (though the communities I’m apart of online are wonderful and amazing, mind you).
I want people. I need people. For both the silly, simple things, and for the hard questions and honesty hours. I want to be with people that I love and that love me back.
I’m by myself (with the exception of my mom) almost every day. Somedays I don’t leave the house. The most human interaction I’ve had since graduation has been online and with family. I run errands, go to exercise classes, but nothing more. I rarely talk to people via texting unless we’re making specific plans. Never just to chat.
I want more than that in my life. But I’m terrified of it.
She said that fear is a big reason why we struggle with community, and that we needed to call the fears out loud– say what the reason is we’re afraid to be in community with one another.
“You must be willing to pinpoint your fear and give it a name if you ever want to grow bigger than it. Don’t allow fear to hold you back from what you truly want. Push into the fear instead of running away from it.”
When Hannah then asked us what we were afraid of and told us to either write it down or put it in the chatbox on the webinar’s page, I had to think for a minute to pinpoint why I’m afraid of community. Why am I afraid to be vulnerable or intimate (I hate that dang word, I swear), with people– even those I consider close, best friends? I wasn’t really sure, at first.
I finally settled on an answer. And it hasn’t left my head since.
I’m terrified of being forgotten. Left out. The one that’s not in on the inside joke or the secret. Unwanted.
I’m terrified that people see the real me– the whole me– and want nothing to do with me for it.
I’m always afraid of people not remembering things I’ve told them or things I’ve done. Or of being forgotten at an event or gathering, my presence being unacknowledged or uninvited.
I love my people deeply. I remember the minute details, whether told to me in-person or seen via social media. I always text back, call back, check on people when they have something going on, respond to social media and try to make plans with people(and I never forget them). I randomly text people if I’m reminded of something they’d like or about things we have in common. I don’t always feel like I get that love back from my people.
I put so much of myself out there to people. I’m not afraid to tell parts of my story if I trust the person. I can be honest and vulnerable when I’m one-on-one with people (and via social media), but I feel like it’s rarely, if ever, reciprocated.
There are so many times where I feel invisible to the people around me.
I get that people are busy living their lives, obviously. But, that includes community. And I sometimes feel like that community doesn’t include me.
I feel like I could be telling a story or having a conversation with someone and if a better story or better person comes up, I’m dropped and the conversation is over. I have trained myself to be loud, not because I don’t think people can hear me, but because I hated being spoken over– and by being loud, I can at least attempt to hold the conversation without feeling less than.
This is something I’ve dealt with since I was a kid. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. Besides dance and school, I rarely did much with people other than my family. Except for one girl; I was very close to this girl in elementary through 6th grade- she was someone I, at the time, called a best friend. We lived down the road from each other, i spent countless hours playing with her and her siblings at their house. I remember that she was the one outside friend that was EVER invited to one of my birthday parties when I was little.
Our friendship slowly dissolved in middle school, thanks to drama and gossip and middle school (and a teacher who stuck her nose in places it didn’t belong). I remember having a come-to-Jesus meeting about everything with her, her mom, and my grandmother. Things came to a head and it got kind of ugly (for middle school), so we decided we needed to talk things out.
I don’t remember her exact words, but her mom said something to the effect of, “are you sure you were even ever friends?”
I’ve never forgotten that. Suddenly 3 years of friendship went out the window and was erased because she found new people she liked better.
A wound like that cuts deep.
I always wonder when I speak to people if I’m fully seen. Or really: if I’m fully wanted. If they wish they’d rather be somewhere else with someone else. I’m always afraid I’m not good enough to be a part of people’s lives and conversations; I don’t always like the same things or get the jokes, or know the stories. It’s isolating. I’m scared I’m going to be forgotten accidentally; plans made that are forgotten (every time I make plans I’m afraid people will forget me) or that people forget to invite me to things. I always wonder if I’m saying the wrong things or saying too much. I wonder if people are just talking or hanging out with me until the better friend or person comes along. I always question if people are saying things about me when I walk away (the above friendship story has a lot to do with that– the gossip train is what ruined that friendship). I’m one of those people that checks her social media accounts and wonders why people unfriend/unfollow me. While I shrug those offer quickly, it’s still something that bugs me.
This whole wanting to be part of a community thing is hard for me, yet I try so hard. I just want people that are willing to try hard back. I haven’t found them yet.
I can’t help but think that i’m doing something wrong, when I give 100% and people don’t give it back. Do we not have the friendship I thought we had? It’s confusing and frustrating and lonely. I don’t just want friendships and communities where we talk about the weather and nonsense (though that is loved and needed sometimes); I want a close friendship with someone(or two) that I can walk through the good, bad, and ugly with. I want a community that I can talk to about my junk (in person, not just online-I’m good at that one) and be loved in spite of it.
I don’t want an all-fluff type of relationship. I need deeper friendships. I need tight-knit community. I need friends that text me just because, friends that send notes of encouragements (words of affirmation= biggest love language). I want people that remember my stories and the little details, and celebrate things big and small with me. I need friends that I can be fully honest with and them not walk away. But I worry that people will see my mess and forget I existed, or won’t want me with the baggage i have. I don’t want to give my all in a community and then be left out of it.
I’m terrified about being forgotten by people I remember so often. By people I care deeply about and love wholly.
I’m scared of being left alone when all my friends are out doing life together. I want to do life together, too.
I run from community because I’m afraid it will forget me– when I’ve spent so, so much time trying to be remembered.