The fear of being alone. I’m not talking about relationships – that fear of ending up alone. Rather, just being afraid of being somewhere by yourself wherever it is. Some call it fear of people, or crowds. I can’t call it that. Because I’m not afraid of people or crowds, I’m afraid of people or crowds judging me. I’m also afraid of me judging myself.
I’ve had this conversation many a times with friends. I thought I was alone in having a fear of being alone. Turns out, many of us have this fear. It doesn’t mean we like being around large groups of humans either. It only means we can’t be by ourselves, or don’t know how to be by ourselves, at home or outside.
I’ve had some practice of being home alone for some time now. Well, because I live by myself. It can be a real party of one, but sometimes, it can be scary. Tell me, what’s scarier than being stuck in your own head with your darkest thoughts?
I’ve learnt that keeping myself busy, even doing mindless things, helps with that. Probably like you, my mind races to places you would not want to wish upon your worst enemy. If you just find one thing that can distract you from that, grab it, and run with it. Run like your life depended on it, because it probably does. There were moments when I would be tempted to crawl back into that dark abyss in my mind and let it take over because I was so tired of fighting it. I realized that it isn’t that hard to fight, especially when you find a reason to. My reason to fight is as simple as wanting to see tomorrow.
I honestly don’t know if I have social anxiety. I just know that when I’m out alone, I do what I must, and return straight home. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 because it’s going to give you an anxiety overload. Now, because I have to adult, I run errands with headphones on that allow me to noise-cancel the world around, and at the same time, distract me from my own thoughts. Laundry, grocery shopping. Deep down, I know people probably don’t give a crap about me. They probably don’t even notice me enough to bother judging me. Even with that knowledge, I still think that everyone around me will point and laugh at that weird chick who’s all alone. It’s come to that point where if I can buy something online, I will. Guess who just got toilet paper shipped?
“Look at her she’s all alone.”
“Ugh why is she so ugly.”
“That’s probably why she’s single.”
“I bet she doesn’t have any friends.”
Ridiculous, right? Still doesn’t stop me from thinking it. If I’m hungry outside, I’d have something to-go. Never once in my life have I eaten at fast food place by myself, let alone a restaurant. I’ve watched a movie by myself when I was 10 (Spy Kids, in case you were wondering). That didn’t go so well. The box office cashier said to me, “Just one?” Yep, that did not help my anxiety one bit, and made me feel worse. She probably didn’t give me the stank eye but I believe in my heart of hearts that she did. Again, I was 10. That was my first and last time ever watching a movie alone.
I used to be one of the most social people I know. I’m still somewhat social. As an adult, however, somehow that messed with how sociable I know I truly am. I’m now afraid to go up to people because of all the reasons above. It’s like I overthink everything now. It takes me much longer to warm up to people. I also think it’s because I’m starting to rely less on the acceptance and validity of others. I don’t have to be try hard. Since I started Facebook in 2007, I managed to “collect” over 800 friends, mostly acquaintances. Apart from the less than 10 people I’ve met online, the others were all people I’ve actually met, hung out with, partied with. Barely had schoolmates on that (because fuck school, amirite?). One day last year, I just deleted everyone I did not want a relationship with because I finally realized why I love Facebook. That’s my connection to people. It helps me think I’m not alone. My cure from my dark mind is anything social on the internet when I’m home alone or outside alone. For instance, browsing social media apps on my phone when I’m out, or playing video games online with my friends at home. That’s my distraction. My friends – those I respect, and somewhat care for, regardless of the stupidest crap they post, help me fight my fear of being alone. Or at least, the illusion that I’m “with” people I care about helps me.
Occam’s Razor: The simplest answer is often correct.
That’s the funny thing about “cures”, though. They don’t have to be complicated. I think the problem with any fear is that we tend to overcomplicate the solution. If I found mine in the most mindless of things, I’m sure you can find yours too. It’s been months since I realized this and I know that I’m improving. Slowly, but surely. I guess if you believe something enough, it becomes reality.