This morning, I asked my husband if he was afraid to be surrounded by people.
H: *pause* Are you afraid to be surrounded by people?
H: *pause* I don’t really find it scary, no.
Of late, I’ve taken to using others as sounding boards- asking them about gaps or dark spots in my worldview just to see if our experiences line up. If they don’t, then I have discovered an area in which my view doesn’t need to be true. This may sound confusing, but it’s pretty simple. People aren’t necessarily dangerous, because I know people who enjoy meeting strangers. Taking risks doesn’t need to be scary, because I know people who enjoy pushing their limits. Having neighbors isn’t a guaranteed problem, because humans are made for community.
I’m trying to grow, and it’s working. But, back to this morning…
I’m afraid of my neighbors, in principle, not in practice. I’m afraid of the idea of neighbors, not by the people themselves; I don’t know the people and am thus incapable of having true fear, joy, dislike, or even apathy towards them personally. How can I have an opinion on an unknown quantity? It’s like professing my love or hatred of a foreign fruit that I’ve never tasted- I can imagine its texture or admire its appearance, but I cannot truly know what my experience with it will be like.
I am hiding indoors from these people, because I am afraid that they will be prickly or sour, that I will be hurt by the experience. So, my fears get to grow in rich soil because nothing challenges them, and I get to keep my worldview intact because no experiences get to challenge it. Win win, right?
I have to stop this. It isn’t healthy to live in constant anxiety.