A Fear of Being Yourself

Amanda Iheme
4 min readMay 2, 2019
art by Jefferey Alan Love

When you say what you want from the people around you and a deep sense of fear overcomes you and you find yourself worrying that you are being too harsh, too demanding, too needy or inconsiderate, it isn’t always because there is something wrong with your request or with you. It is the fear of not getting what you asked for and being exactly what you were worried about: harsh, needy, unworthy.

This fear is not always unhealthy. It causes you to take a step back to re-assess your desires and your approach when asking others to help you satisfy or attend to them. It causes you to be more honest and clear with yourself about what you want and to be considerate of those on the receiving end of your requests.

However, there are moments when this fear becomes excessive and paralyzing. You stop asking because you are sure that you are going to be misunderstood or be perceived as being inconsiderate. You are certain that nobody is going to listen or assist you. You expect to be rejected or denied and in some situations, you expect this rejection to be followed by harsh words or some form emotional battery. So when in a situation where you must ask for what will make your being happy or comfortable, you avoid it or come up with a plan of how to indirectly get what you want.

This excessive fear comes from your experience with communicating your desires to a person or people while you were growing up or from your current relationships. They could have been your parents, siblings or friends who made you feel ashamed for asking for what you wanted or complaining about what you did not like or want, a lover that called you needy and demanding because you asked for their attention and time or a boss that rated you poorly because you asked for time off, a raise or more support.

When around these people who do not give to you what you ask for that you know is genuinely good for you which could be a desire to be listened to, to be helped, to love who you wish to love how you wish to love them, to have your space respected, your presence valued, let your interaction with them be recognized not as a definition of what you deserve or your worth rather as a lesson on how not to be treated by another individual and a sign of those you must either keep at arm’s length or let go off entirely no matter how difficult it maybe.

You need not subject yourself to painful situations or relationships with the hope that someday you will be recognized for your worth. You should not allow yourself to begin to believe that your suffering makes you good, purposeful, worthy and lovable. It doesn’t. It makes you bitter and resentful. Such thought and behaviour is known as the Martyr complex.

Do not begin to say to yourself that these unhelpful relationships should stay because you and this other person have been through a lot together or have known each other for a long time. Do not allow hurtful and unhelpful commitments fester in your life because you fear that no one will accept you and your flaws as much as this person or people have. Rather, it is you who needs to accept yourself. Be aware that the price of finding good relationships and situations oftentimes means spending quite a bit of time in your own company.

And for the moments when you have been the other person where you have shut people out because their being reminded you of your insecurities, where you put them down with your words and actions because you could not stand being in the position of having offended someone or you have denied them space to be because it meant losing control, you should allow yourself to accept that you have been unfair and acted wrongly and sit with it.

Noting, while you do, that you have denied another person their right to exist because it doesn’t sit well with you. When in this position, let it be a time for self-reflection to understand why you have refused them that human right and a lesson that it is not always about what you want and that peace exists when other people are allowed as much space and time to be about themselves as you are.

Now I ask you to sit down, sit back and think:

Who am I in this relationship dynamic? Whatever type of relationship it might be.

Am I the one too scared of asking for what I know is good for me? Afraid of getting rejected if I did?

Or am I the one that shuts the needs of others down and out because it does not fit in my world?



Amanda Iheme

musings of a 29 year old woman living and working in Lagos, Nigeria.