I was recently asked what my greatest fear is. Simple question that should have elicited a simple response, however I found that I went completely blank. This was somewhat disconcerting to me as I do not perceive myself as a fearless person, and would be more inclined to describe myself a little on the cautious side. So what is it that I fear? I was so stumped at this question that I was forced to go back to my much younger years to get any kind of answer. And from my memory archives came a rich back catalog of fear.
Much of my past self fear has been seen and conquered and therefore no longer relevant in the fear category. It seems that fears faced, or even thrust upon us as a realisation of our projected worst case scenarios, are an effective antidote. And acknowledging all the past fear that I am no longer defined by allowed me to realign my perception of self and appreciate more fully who I had become. But I did find a few remnant fears that I was still able to identify with, even though they had been warped by time.
I realised that I had spent most of my life under the control of a fear that people wouldn’t like me, or even love me. This resulted in much of my life so far spent providing an entertaining performance of myself. I perceived what it was that made people laugh, made them feel good, made them want to be around me and even made them want to be like me. That was how I shaped who I was. Until I was left watching the performance along with everyone else, with no connection to who I really was. Ironically, it also meant that the people who loved me had no real connection to who I really was either.
Of course, for all the performance, it was largely informed by the values of the person I would always be, so that was all I had to go by when I decided to put fear aside and live as the person I was, and wanted to be. My life then began to grow out of my values. They informed my choices, my activities and the people I wanted to be around. This shift began a long and ongoing period of recreation and redefining how I would be in the world.
I did lose friends (and lovers), and I did find that not everyone would or could love me. But I no longer cared enough to give it any fear. The people who now see me, see the real me, all of it. That attracts people that resonate with my values and repels people who do not. It’s a pretty perfect equation to be honest. So I no longer fear that people won’t love me, I just trust that some will love me on my terms and the rest will either look to themselves or some other fearful person to make them feel good.
So my old fear that people won’t love me was set aside by my own love. The cure of the fear was not in proving it a baseless fear, that of course people will love me. Doing that only perpetuated it for many years. It was in overcoming the fear that I as a person was not lovable. And in overcoming that, the fear just doesn’t matter anymore.