When Sue was eight years old, her school had Career Day, a day when parents come to class to talk about their jobs. She always remembered one mom who was a fashion designer. She walked to the front of the classroom and talked about how fashion allowed her to stand out in a crowd and allowed her to be extraordinary. “Why would I want to be anything other than ordinary?” Sue thought to herself.
Every few months, this memory would pop up in Sue’s mind. Now, years have passed, but Sue felt the same way she did when she was eight years old. “Why would anyone want to be anything other than ordinary?” This connected to a deeply rooted fear that Sue had. This fear caused most of her romantic relationships to end. The fear wasn’t of commitment, which is quite common, but the fear was what others thought of her relationship.
Not wanting to draw any attention to herself, she would consult at least three of her friends before clicking publish on a social media post. Then she would nervously await the likes and comments. These likes served as reinforcement that she was in the right relationship. She would have her friends meet someone she was dating, but would nervously try to correct all his mistakes. If he said he enjoyed rock music, but she knew her friends hated it, she would quickly change the subject. If he said a mildly insensitive joke, she would laugh trying desperately to normalize the situation. If someone was too outside of the realm of what she considered “normal”, she decides to leave the relationship. Sue never spent much time dwelling about this fear, in fact she wasn’t even aware of this fear. She had become so intense about wanting to fit in, that that became her new normal.