I realized a long time ago that I am an introvert and not just that, but I am the worst kind of introvert.
A shy one.
For me, navigating social situations is as violent and harrowing an experience as walking across a minefield.
I come away feeling exhausted. The kind of tired that seems to stretch through your bones making you limp and lifeless.
As a child I remember the world feeling big and garish. Going new places or having to make new friends arose the same feeling inside of me as losing my mum in the supermarket. A wild-eyed, pursed-lipped panic.
I thought as I grew older the feeling would fade but I’ve carried the same trouble with me into adulthood.
The root of my shyness, as with most afflictions of the heart, is fear.
The fear that causes my voice to catch in my throat. The fear that suppresses my innate urge to love others. The fear that dulls the kaleidoscope of colours in this world.
The fear of rejection.
It has always plagued me. Sneakily crawling back into my life as it takes on new shapes and forms.
My fear of rejection causes me to shrink, inhibiting the hospitality that gives me life.
One of my greatest joys is welcoming people into our home.
I think that’s why I love food so much, because it brings us together. We gather around slices of pizza or steaming bowls of soup and we are united as one.
I’ve always hoped that someday I will be lucky enough to have a home with a gigantic kitchen and dining table so there will always be space to pull up one more chair.
But the desire to make people feel welcome, to talk to strangers and to make new friends is shadowed by this belief that they won’t like me.
So before they even tell me they have other plans or other friends I shut them out.
The fear of rejection has trampled all over romance in my life as well.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been infatuated with someone. Because loving feels as natural as breathing to me. I can hardly contain the swelling affection that sings within my heart.
But far too often I’ve found myself pining after someone for years because I’m so afraid that they won’t feel the same way about me.
Loving someone feels like far too much to ask. The risk of heartbreak seals my lips shut.
Rather than allow someone the chance to know and love me, I keep them at arm’s length and shy away from my feelings.
And in my day to day life, the fear of rejection makes conversations feel like an uphill battle.
I worry that my opinion won’t be heard or appreciated. I’m concerned that if I speak someone much more clever or witty will shut me down.
So I become disengaged. I smile and nod but do not venture to participate in the scene before me. I save my breath and try to take up as little space as possible.
Over the past month I’ve been unemployed and wrestling with this nagging feeling of unworthiness.
I have found myself withdrawing from my friends and wanting to hide rather than go out and be sociable and last night I finally figured out why that is.
Everywhere I go people ask me questions. What do I do? Where am I going? What is my plan?
And somewhere deep down I have this belief that what I do defines me. Right now I don’t do anything and therefore I feel like I don’t belong.
Without a plan, without a purpose, I am not valuable. I am not interesting. I am not worthy.
With every job application I send, I attach a little piece of myself to it. Every time they reject me or ignore me altogether, I get a little bit smaller.
The fear of rejection gains its power from the simple fact that we put our sense of worthiness in the wrong places.
We define ourselves by our career, by who we date, by the people we are friends with, by the shininess of our car and by the size of our clothing.
We fall into this same old trap time and time again.
We become crippled by shame. Overwhelmed by self-loathing. Infected with a lack of self worth. We shrink down and we shrivel up. We are wounded easily and we snap without warning.
But you know what, I’m so tired of being afraid.
I want to live fully. I want to love with my whole heart. I want to be actively engaged with life.
I need a reminder of who I am because I’m not too sure anymore.
Perhaps because it is so unbelievable that we could have any worth just by existing.
Maybe because of the subliminal messages we have received our whole lives that tell us we there is no elevator to success, we have to take the stairs.
But here is the truth…I matter because I AM, not because I DO.
You matter simply because you have life running through your veins and breath flowing in and out of your lungs.
We need not fear rejection because we already belong. We are valuable. We are loved.
Regardless of what others may say. Regardless of whether we fail or succeed. Regardless of whether we are picked first or last.
We are worthy.
It makes me feel needy that I require so much reassurance. But then I am reminded that I was created by a God who has an infinite capacity to fulfill this need.
So what a beautiful reunion it is when I place my heart back in His never-failing hands.
“If you look at the world, you will be distressed. If you look within, you will be depressed. If you look to God, you will find rest.” – Corrie ten Boom