My Biggest Fear – Revealed

One day as I sat in the dining hall conversing with a friend, I broke down. We were having a normal conversation, but the entire time she was speaking, all I could think about was going back to my empty dorm by myself. The walls were cold and the room was dark. The small window in my low-cost triple dorm provided little to no light. My view was a brick wall. His room had always been so bright. As tears rolled down my face in the crowded dining hall, I realized I had fallen into the same hole my mother had.

I was scared to be alone. My mother is too. She has consistently been in relationships since she was nineteen. She continues to be in them, even when they harm her. Even when they harm me. I always told myself I would never do the same, that I would never be that girl who depends on a guy for her source of happiness and security, but here I was. I cried daily for a week and somehow found a way to make everything about him. And as I sat in that dining hall, I was being a bad friend. I was so absorbed with my own problems that I couldn’t focus long enough to listen to what she had to say. But the idea of being in my own company for a prolonged period of time felt as smothering as the four white walls of my shoebox dorm did. I was being suffocated by the feeling that I wasn’t enough for myself. Like if I wasn’t with someone else, what was the point? What did I have to offer… myself?

Then I became upset. I had everything I could possibly want: a full scholarship to my dream school, a dorm in the city that never sleeps, the opportunity to pursue my passion of writing. Why wasn’t this enough for me? Why did I feel so empty? I had also experienced pain more severe than this. I was abused mentally and physically growing up. I slept on couches and floors. My father died. I was sexually abused. I moved out at sixteen. This was nothing compared to all that! How had I conquered all of those experiences and the pain they yielded, but I was struggling to conquer this?

I realized though that that anger toward myself was counterintuitive, because it typically made the situation worse. And I can’t minimize my current problems just because I have had worse ones in the past. I am unable to control my emotions, and thinking I could was toxic to my health. I held myself to such a high standard that I became disappointed whenever I felt that longing because I am supposed to be “strong” and “independent.” This is what I taught myself but that is what I had to unlearn. I was definitely both of those qualities, but my definitions of them were incorrect. I was not weak because I loved and subsequently hurt; that is what made me strong.

There is this expectation in college that everything should be casual and that this is not the time for romantic relationships. My own friends made me feel abnormal for wanting commitment instead of a casual fling that lacked a label. I wanted  to love someone instead of just enjoying the pleasures of the flesh they would. I feel so much to the point that I thought I was feeling too much. But I realized I needed to stop apologizing for the complexity of my emotions. I know I hold no control over them, but I can control my actions. I can control how I react and can limit the amount of actions that will yield these deep emotions I typically experience.

The main problem was that I love other people with all of my heart. I give everything I have, even when it means that I go without more times than not. But I was not loving enough to myself. I was not giving to myself. I was not accepting myself for my flaws like I had unconditionally done for others. Of course I didn’t feel comfortable in my own company. I didn’t have enough respect for myself. Would you pass time with a person you do not love or respect? And while I was not loving myself enough, I also was not holding myself accountable. I was not acknowledging my own flaws and weaknesses. I was playing victim but failed to acknowledge that I was part of our downfall too. I didn’t fully acknowledge that until the night I went out with a group of friends to see a movie and he was there. I don’t even remember how we got to this point in our conversation, but we had begun conversing about when we were together. The conversation was half-joking, half-serious. I told him it was his fault that I was so distraught the week we ended. I implied that the whole ending was his undoing. He said “Really? Come on, Jae. It was your fault, too.”

I needed to hear that.

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By Jaelynn Grace Ortiz

Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

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