My Biggest Fear Became a Reality, but It Didn’t Destroy Me

Sometimes, I worry about my condition as a human being. I wonder if I’m a bad specimen of person because I struggle to express emotions, or rather the emotions that I deem as difficult.

I know people who are extremely expressive and in tune with their emotions. If they’re having a bad day, then guaranteed everyone knows. If they’re mad, then all hell is about to be unleashed. If they’re in love, then it’s literally all. you. hear. about.

Me, on the other hand, I am a bit more of a peculiar breed of human. When situations occur that elicit stress, anger or fear in most people, I often show no outward signs of alarm.

A recent example was a few months ago when myself and two of my roommates were home and the carbon monoxide warning went off. Everyone was freaking out! Fanning the alarms. Opening windows. Calling parents for help. Normal stuff. I was….well pretty chill. Now, don’t get me wrong. Not that I don’t care about a possible carbon monoxide leak. Yet, my response was simply to open the windows and check the alarms. No worrying necessary. My roommates were both amused and confused by my lack of reaction.

Weird, right? Sometimes, I think it is a good thing. Life happens, and for the most part, I am able to keep a really calm head in tough times. My motto has always been to push through. Lately, I wonder if my lack of emotional response also has to do with something else.

Last year, I had a moment where I had to come clean with some emotions that I buried deep down. Long story short, I realized that I had feelings for my best guy friend. To be frank, after three years of a great friendship, I realized I was in love with this person.

Pause. Yes, you read that correctly. It took me three years to realize I was in love with someone. So yea, a really long time. I wonder why sometimes I have delayed responses or have trouble processing emotions more quickly? I wonder sometimes what keeps me from owning fear, anxiety or in this case, love? What about those things makes me want to push them back? What makes me want to run away from them?

Vulnerability.

Perhaps, it boils down to wanting to avoid vulnerability at all costs. Honesty with emotions, whether it be fear, anger, stress, anxiety or love, requires a willingness to be vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, it leaves room for you to get hurt or disappointed, and nobody wants that.

If I express my anger or frustration at someone, then it means laying my cards out on the table. But what if they don’t respond well? If I allow myself to show fear, then I feel like I lose all control. What if things don’t go the way I hoped? If I allow myself to express genuine and true love for a person, then they could reject me. What if I get hurt?

Update on my love life: The love that I expressed turned out to be unrequited. It was my biggest fear coming true in real time. Falling in love with someone only for it not to be reciprocated. I felt embarrassed. I felt confused. I felt exposed. I felt stupid. I was hurt.

So what did I do? Oh girl, I hard core stuffed those emotions, deep, deep down in a dark tunnel that no one could find.  I worked out to avoid feeling emotions. I worked more hours to avoid emotions. I slept to avoid emotions. I shopped to avoid emotions. And guess what? Six months later the emotions are still here. They didn’t go anywhere.

A friend recently gave me some words of wisdom that really pushed me to do better. She told that perhaps the first step is to acknowledge what it was. I had been running, stuffing and avoiding for so long that coming to terms with how I felt seemed impossible. As we sat, talked and sipped coffee, my heart began to ease and my lips finally released the words that I had been holding captive: I was in love with him.

Twenty Something Advice (for anyone):
“Being honest about your emotions and being vulnerable won’t destroy you. In fact, it’ll only make you stronger.”

Guess, what? I’m still here. Being honest about my emotions and being vulnerable didn’t destroy me. It didn’t kill me. While awfully uncomfortable, I think it actually made me stronger. I am still here. To be honest, it was relieving to just be honest. It was like releasing pressure from a balloon. Once it was pierced, it all just came out.

I fell in love with someone and that love was not reciprocated. OK. That’s what it is, but knowing that fact doesn’t destroy me. Oh, most certainly it hurts like all hell, but if it was love, of course the loss of it is going to hurt.

Days later since that conversation, I am starting to slowly feel better. I surely don’t have all the answers, but I am finding that part of being an adult and an overall emotionally healthy human being means allowing yourself to be real and vulnerable.

Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, sometimes it means relinquishing your control over a situation. But it is truly the only way to live an authentic and happy life. Vulnerability is strength.

And hey, now that I know what love feels like and that I am capable of it, the sky is the limit, right? I believe love will come again in time. In the meantime, I am going to work on being a normal human being. I am determined to own my emotions and not let them own or control me. Because that is what being an adult looks like.

Cheers to everyone going through growing pains! I’m right there with you.

-Stephkt

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