Fear is a natural emotion tied to uncertainty. When life pushes us into unfamiliar territory we feel anxious and unsettled. Experiencing fear is normal, but being ruled by it is not. There are countless situations that elicit fear, but one we often face comes with the development of a new relationship. We mentally rehearse moments when we were hurt by someone close to us and steer clear of doing anything to replicate those circumstances. Some of us conclude that we were hurt because we were open and vow not to be open again.
There was a time when I was thoroughly convinced that I didn’t need any new friends. I told myself that my circle of friends was so solid and proven that I had everyone I needed. I wasn’t opposed to meeting new people, but I was certain that any new friendships would be surface-level only. I wouldn’t open up. Newcomers weren't allowed into my intimate heart space. I refused to give anyone the potential to hurt me. When I realized what I was up to—an avoidance of hurt—I understood my trepidation had more to do with fear than a strong friendship circle. My reasoning was ridiculous and extremely limiting. I knew that if I didn’t change I would ultimately reduce the amount of love I welcomed into my life.
When I got to the root of my erroneous thinking, I could no longer operate under the same assumptions. I was no longer convinced that no one else was meant to walk into my life and into that personal space that I’d worked so hard to protect. I stopped looking at new friendships through lenses of fear, hesitation, and doubt. Since becoming more open and less fearful, I’ve gladly discovered new relationships that have brought me joy and remind me of my purpose. I’ve also learned that I am a much better friend and person when I free myself from behavior designed to prevent imagined hurt. When we haul fear into new relationships we assign disappointment and hurt to someone who has not earned it and we fail to experience the full benefit of that relationship. We should never hold our fears so tightly that we aren’t able to embrace the power and value of a meaningful friendship.