by Ariel Minter
I’d like to nominate "Fear" as the most dangerous emotion. Of course, it is entirely healthy to feel fear (if you don’t…well, I might look into that) but I have decided that Fear has the potential to destroy any relationship that you let it run.
Now, I have to come clean about a few things. I am a liar. I am insecure. I am afraid. These are very harsh to type out, and harsh to read. I do not always lie, I am not always insecure, and I am not always afraid.
Ten days ago I fell. It was pretty bad. My chin split open, leading to 12 stitches, and I couldn’t open my jaw more than an inch for about 4 days. I had to fly out to Arizona because I had broken or chipped as many as 10 teeth (my Grandpa is an amazing dentist and I don’t have dental insurance). I had to have a tooth surgically extracted, 8 composites (dental vocab for essentially rebuilding teeth), and one porcelain crown. Obviously, the big question from everyone was “What on earth happened?”
So about this lying/insecure/afraid business: I was trying to think about why I (and all people at some point or another) lie. Or why people say they will do something and then never do it, or why we are all so compelled to bend the truth in order to look a little better. I guess you could answer all of these thoughts with suggesting that is just the human condition. But I am compelled to think it is more than that…and definitely not as definitive or as seemingly simple. Here’s my theory--I want to be accepted and, often times, more than that. I want to be liked/loved by everyone. Therefore, when I first meet someone I put the best version of myself forward. I used to be more inclined to tailor this version of myself in small ways to what I think this new person would really like.
Now, if this is someone I really look up to or just automatically really like at first, I will bend over backwards to get them to really like me back. This is where the fibbing (okay lying) and overcommitting/double scheduling comes in. I like to consider myself a “recovering codependent” so this scenario isn’t typical to everyone, especially if you are not even close to being codependent. And I am a lot better about being true to my word than I ever was.
Maybe you relate to this, maybe it just seems crazy, but I do this for a reason. Like I’ve mentioned, I am much better about being authentic and rigorously honest because it is much more satisfying than living a life motivated by making everyone happy. But I still fall back into my old patterns of behavior more frequently than I would like.
Why would anyone be like that? It seems even more miserable and embarrassing when I write it out and am now exposing it to whoever wanders on to this page. But I know why I occasionally behave this way. It’s because I am afraid. I am afraid that you won’t like me, or that I won’t be enough to be accepted by you. I am terrified of being rejected by you or not good enough. I am afraid of being judged. I am afraid of not being liked.
As I’ve grown, I’ve gotten closer to knowing who I really am. Ultimately, I respect myself enough now that I often choose to be myself. And I still care if you don’t like me. It still hurts my feelings and leaves me feeling insecure/rejected or that there is “something wrong with me”. But it is worth it to me. I don’t allow fear to make me someone I’m not anymore (most of the time). I never want to compromise my integrity or disrespect myself. So, that means having good boundaries, with myself and others. And knowing that it is okay that everyone doesn’t necessarily love me.
Anyways, “What on earth happened?” Well, I was in the middle of a tickle war that sort of turned into wrestling. And you know that sleeper hold or whatever it is called? Yep. And I face planted straight onto tile. It completely sucked. And it still sucks. But I am healthy, not in pain anymore, and you can’t even see where my grandpa had to pull my tooth out.
It may sound silly, but I am still embarrassed to tell people what happened. Mostly because I like to consider myself smart enough to take care of myself, and I know that “accidents happen” but I never really thought all of this would result from messing around. And I was afraid of being judged because of that mistake.
All in all I’ve realized that the people I admire the most are the ones who can be who they are, and those who accept people for having the courage to be who they are. I don’t know how well I know you, but I commit to being me with you, and that means that you may not like me. And I still really like to be liked, even though I know it’s unhealthy to live my life based on that.
Whatever the case may be, being rigorously honest is really hard. It means risking acceptance. But if someone doesn’t accept me (or you) for being myself (yourself) than I’d say both parties aren’t missing out on what “could have been.”
*YouTube contains expletives that may be inappropriate for children.
by Ariel Minter
When I was 14 years old I went to a psychologist with my immediate family. He sat the 4 of us in a room and we spent the next couple hours opening up more than one can of worms. By the end of it all I was weeping, feeling raw and vulnerable with an understanding of myself I had never had before. He asked to speak with me privately and I agreed. When we sat in his office he asked me “Ariel, how old are you?” I answered. He followed the first question with “How old do you feel?” I started to cry again. At last, I replied “Older.” He nodded “Yeah, I would say that you have been acting as though you were 18.”
When I was 14 I decided I knew what was best for myself. I had my first “serious” boyfriend. I hung out with Juniors and Seniors as a Freshman. I snuck out of my home to climb to the rooves of half-built homes and watch the planes land at Sky Harbor Airport, amongst other things. I put myself in situations that 14-year-olds should not be in. I acted out of pain that I didn’t even know I owned and translated that into insisting I wasn’t a baby.
I look at girls who are 14 now and I am shaken. It has been six years since then, and it feels like a lifetime. I have lived a lot of life since then. I have been adamant on proving that I am an individual, even if that meant risking my morals. I have learned that age is a number that has limits. But for a very long time I refused to accept such concepts.
There is a reason that there is a difference between Knowledge and Wisdom. Anyone can gain knowledge, especially in our culture. However, wisdom is earned. It is earned by each moment, experience, and year. And it cannot be given until time lapses. In relationships there is a big difference between "being right" and "being in a relationship." You can know every little fact about a strawberry, but if you have never tasted it before you would have no way of explaining its flavor.
When I was 14, I decided to know everything about everything. I wanted to grow up. I wanted to be an adult, to give away adolescence in a false attempt of understanding life. It is tragic…so unbelievably sad, to give that away. Now, I always say that I wouldn’t change anything because of who I am today. But if you gave me a time machine and it was possible to change some things then I might be a bit of a hypocrite. However, the lesson it has taught me is something worth passing on: I learned that age is something to savor and not force in an attempt to protect yourself.
It may seem a bit backwards, but I now realize that my intense need to grow up was so I could protect myself. From naivety. From the idea that my dreams might be too big, too small, not good enough. In order to be my own person so not a single other soul could have a chance to tell me what or who that was. But it was all a sham. I ended up letting all of those things happen because I wasn’t able to be content with wonder.
I yearn to be in relationship with those around me, even if it means not being right. I seek humility so thoroughly because it is the only way to protect me against myself. Time is the ultimate healer, and I am finally coming to terms with the fact that it is okay, and I finally understand why patience is a virtue.
*Van Sant, Gus, dir. Good Will Hunting. Miramax, 1997. Film. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM-gZintWDc>.
by Ariel Minter
I received the most beautiful compliment this last weekend. Some of my dearest friends had me over for lunch. Now, these dear friends and I always end up having the most interesting conversations. We skip the topics of what is happening around us and go straight to what is going on in our hearts.
We talk about feelings, and we analyze why we react the way we do in certain (and uncertain) situations. We talk about shame. And we let all of the “ugly” emotions be okay. In the midst of our conversation, there was a question. “Why do you stick around? Why do you go out of your way to make us your community?” and the answer was extraordinary. “Well, you all are real. You don’t pretend to appear perfect or act as if you are.”
The very next day I was sitting at a table drinking wine with people I am especially fond of, and I thought again of the compliment. I started to feel angry. Why do people pretend just to get kudos? Why is it that, if you live the “right” way (never curse, always have table manners, go to church, dress well, keep a smile on, & never expose negative feelings, etc.) that you somehow earn a special place in society?
I have a huge amount of respect for people who can manage to not let an expletive slip when they stub their toe or those who go to church every week, and I certainly could try to mimic it in my admiration. But something about the idea of living life, with the purpose to appear perfect, hit a nerve.
I gave up trying to be perfect long ago, in fact I made a point of it, with a middle-finger-to-the-universe-if-you-judge me-for-it attitude. But that was out of anger and rebellion. Not out of love and compassion for myself or others. Even though that attitude was just as much of a façade as pretending to be perfect (and it certainly had less perks). I felt attached to that in order to stand out as an individual. That’s where it started, anyway.
It might be part luck, part Divine intervention, and maybe a tad bit of growing up (with a lot more to do), but I somehow managed to be surrounded by the most amazing people. I realized that I wanted to live in authenticity. I wanted to be real, even if that meant disapproval from some.
I wanted to take responsibility for my actions, create boundaries, and just be who I am and who I always wanted to be. I didn’t want to act and react out of fear. The fear of losing my identity, of being wrong, of being judged, not fitting in….not being enough. The fear of all these things drove me to do things that still make me feel ashamed.
As I sat at the table listening to the response of my friends after I asked them some of these same questions, my anger turned into shame, then sadness which then led to gratefulness. If I were living my life just to get those kudos, well, then that’s what I would be doing. I am full of mistakes. I really have no right to get angry at people for that. Hence, the shame in my judgement of others. It truly made me sad. Partly for my own selfishness and partly for people who don’t have a community in which it is okay to be who you are and still be loved and accepted. That led me to gratitude.
So why do you stick around? Why do you stand where you are? What is keeping you there? And most importantly, are you living your life as if you are worthy? I know that I still fall into the trap of fear. At least a few times a day. So I have to do better.
Reacting out of fear and shame is potent. But when you can be you, especially in a community of imperfect people, then you’ll be more than grateful.
Marla and Jami
Cofounders of JamiAndMarla.LOVE (fka Passion Provokers and Keller Coaching) Jami and Marla are proud to bring a new level of success to coupleships worldwide with their unique coaching, mentoring, and consulting process. Their blogs are not only informative for coupleships they are personal. For over 25 years they have been helping people create emotionally and physically intimate coupleships.
Ariel is a freelance blogger, web designer, and SEO consultant. She is 23 years young, married to her soulmate, and a proud “mother” to boxer Bruce and Yorkie Dexter. She focuses on writing content that is raw and relatable. (Info relevant at the time of writing, circa 2013-2015)