The following post was written for the blog, Peace & Penguins,and tackles the topic of Love & Anxiety- which are two things that I know little and a lot about, respectively.
When Alisha asked me to write a guest blog post on Love & Anxiety for Peace & Penguins, I thought that it would be an easy hour therapy session of rehashing my life stories of insecurity, doubts, and regrets. But unfortunately, for the past week, I’ve struggled to get anything down on paper. So here I am, over a week after telling her that she’d have my piece in no time, trying to figure out exactly what I can say about love & anxiety…which are ultimately the two words that have haunted me during my 28-year old life.
While I’ve questioned how to begin this post, I feel that it is important to start off with the following statement: I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve never been in a serious relationship. However, and it’s an incredibly big HOWEVER, I’m actually (finally) on the verge of entering one…but more on that later.
Today I came across the following lines in the novel, 50 Shades of Grey, which really struck a chord with me. Here are the lines, and I’ll explain later:
Katherine often teases me that I’m missing the need-a-boyfriend gene, but the truth is I just haven’t met anyone who… well, whom I’m attracted to, even though part of me longs for the fabled trembling knees, heart-in-my-mouth, butterflies-in-my-belly moments.
Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Perhaps, I’ve spent too long in the company of my literary romantic heroes, and consequently my ideals and expectations are far too high. But in reality, nobody’s ever made me feel like that.
Anastasia Steele (50 Shades of Grey)
For the majority of my young adult life, I have relied on excuses and sarcasm to answer the question, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” And when stating my boyfriend-free background and getting stuck responding to the inevitable question, “What do you mean you’ve never been in a relationship? How is that possible?”, I find the anxiety tingles kicking in as I do my best to change the subject. But here and now, I’ll put those insecurities aside and tell you that Anxiety is the answer to both of those questions.
Unfortunately I’ve been plagued by anxiety for a while now, and it’s held me back from many things over the years. But above all, it’s prevented me from experiencing the love that I always dreamed of; from finding the love I always deserved. For years I’ve thought that there was something wrong with me. I thought I wasn’t good enough to be loved. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough to attract the attention of a man. I thought I would always be alone, because frankly being single is all I’ve really ever known.
Sure, there were those “boyfriends” during my early teen years that typically lasted a few weeks, and then a few guys in my twenties that stayed around for a couple uncommitted hook-ups. However, for the most part, I’ve been that girl who finds herself attending weddings without a plus-one and heading home after last call alone in a cab while the other girls leave on the arm of their significant others.
Now, every once in a while, maybe on the night of a full moon or during a road trip back to Ohio, I’d find myself flirting with a seemingly eligible bachelor and hoping that something more than a one-night stand would come out of it. But unfortunately, my anxiety almost got the best of me as daylight hit and my internal enemy asserted, “Are you crazy? He’s doesn’t really like you. He’s going to leave just like all of the other ones.”
But something changed this past year; something that I really can’t quite explain myself. In essence, I’ve lived this year under the motto: I don’t care anymore. See, instead of letting anxiety hold me back, I’ve fought off the doubts and insecurities and strived to live fearlessly. (Note: A little liquid courage usually helped too.) I took some chances…including using a few daring moves and brave one-liners every once in a while. And with each one of those incidences, I noticed my anxiety towards potential love decreasing.
So that leads me to “The Now”. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I am on the verge of a relationship. Actually… I’m in one. Yes, the girl who thought she’d always be single is in a relationship. (With a wonderful guy, might I add.) I’m pretty much living in disbelief, as are my friends and family who have heard my “No, I don’t have a boyfriend.” and “I’ll always be a single” lines, but it really is the truth. Even though it hasn’t yet been discussed, I am practically someone’s girlfriend… which means that I kinda-sorta have a boyfriend. Me? Really? Wow.
To be honest, I’m still processing all of this. I’m trying to convince myself that this is really, while also trying to understand why it’s taken me so long to let myself be in a relationship. Why did I let my anxiety hinder my happiness? Why did I let my insecurities get in the way of being someone’s girlfriend? Why did I let my fears prohibit some amazing guy from being mine? While I can ask these questions again and again, I’ll never fully be able to uncover the answers. But I will remember the anxiety I’ve lived with that held me back from being happy all of those years.
Unfortunately my anxiety is something that I continue to live with. It’s something that I think I’ll always live with. But when it comes to love, I’m learning more and more how important it is for me to combat all of my fears and doubts. For starters, I don’t want to miss out on a chance with a good guy like the one I have right now. I’ve held myself back many times before and simply, I don’t want to live with regrets anymore. Sure it’s scary to let yourself be vulnerable and open your heart up, but the risk is worth it. And honestly, I’m at the point in my life where I’d rather know that I took a chance than regret not taking one.
Let me stress that I’m no expert when it comes to love, and in some ways I’m still not convinced that I’ll ever fully understand it. But between you and me, I’m much more open to learning more about it. And that being said, I think I’ll have to start with exploring the whole relationship thing, and maybe officially being someone’s girlfriend.
Sure, it’s not easy and frankly I’m a bit scared, but I’m going to take these chances…starting with this great guy who has seen past my anxieties and boyfriendless past and see what life has in store for me. And hopefully, one day, I’ll be writing a post about love without a mention of anxiety. But for the meantime, I’m just going to take it day-by-day and see what this whole relationship thing is all about.