The Fear of Losing People

A professional acquaintance of mine reached out to me — much to my happy surprise– when I began the antidepressant tapering journey. She offered me words of support, and said that she would be there to talk through things as they arose if I needed someone. 

She couldn’t know that I had secretly looked up to her for years. Her and her husband are successful badasses in the horticultural industry, having bridged the pleasure of growing plants with the skill of entrepreneurship without losing themselves in the process. In the six years of working in this industry, only three people have ever taken the leap of letting down their professional facade to embrace non-professional friendship (you know, where you can speak your mind openly about polemic subjects without the fear of losing business or esteem). It takes a lot of courage and self-assurance. In fact, one of my other hort friends gave me the courage to start speaking my mind regardless of professional interests by his example. I’m grateful, because the pressure of always looking perfect and never revealing my true nature was kind of soul crushing. If I had continued down that path, I probably would have abandoned my career. 

Which is kind of silly, because out of many industries, the horticulture culture is very supportive and forgiving. We’re plant people. Plant people are just good people. But I digress. 

When this woman reached out to me in her sagesse (she’s about 30 years older than me) I admitted to her how lonely being the award-winning young professional was, but how I feared losing the respect of my peers by showing my true colors — flaws and all. 

“Oh, my guess is that you are likely empowering people with your courage, to be honest,” she said. “You hold on to that trait. And screw anybody who might think less of you; especially in the industry. If you ever encounter that behavior see it for what it is… somebody that is so damn insecure and in pain that your honesty is just too much to handle. You’re amazing.”

How cool was that?! I could’ve kissed her. So when insecurity hit hard yesterday, I took a chance on reaching out to her and once again was not disappointed. 

See, pursuing Young Living isn’t just about a residual income. It’s an entire lifestyle change. It’s hard to not talk about it all the time because the products — unlike any other retail purchase I’ve made that barely ever does anything to your soul — rocked my world, and continues to daily. But unfortunately due to ignorance and/or poor experiences with other MLM’s, when I came out of the oily closet it’s like all of my friends went silent. I felt misunderstood and lonely. 

The ironic thing is that I suggest books, makeup and skin products, doctors and chiropractors all day with my friends — hell, five people just bought the same tooth powder I use because I raved about it. So why is it different when I talk about essential oils? Why would they think I have any other motive than their wellbeing? It’s like people have stopped interacting with me on social media because they’re afraid I might target them next to hock my products onto. I thought they knew me — and trusted me — better than that. They sought out my counsel before, but now I’m just “another one of those people.” It hurts!

So, I went to my friend and dished about the insecurities… about being open with my friends about promoting healthy lifestyle changes, but feeling self-conscious that I’m projecting an image that topples me from the put-together pedestal my acquaintances once had me on. …That my true colors are disappointing, or worse, disgusting people. I’m taking their silence and non-participation as rejection. It hurts.

“Perhaps the friends you’re referring are just freaking because you’re making a shift,” she proposed. “Change is hard on everybody.” I immediately resonated with that.

 I think sometimes when you make big changes and start pursuing goals it can make people who know they should be doing something, but aren’t, painfully self-aware of the setbacks. It may even spur feelings of guilt, shame or jealousy…  which can all rear their heads as indignation, anger or dismissiveness. 

For whatever reason, instead of embracing their own power and ability, they resent yours. Maybe it’s not resentment, maybe it’s fear. I’ve definitely seen a lot of fear coming out of the woodworks recently and am amazed at how it controls people without them even realizing it. Because firstly I was amazed by how it controlled me without me even realizing it!

But that still-small voice in my head, even as I write this, says “or no, maybe you really are just obnoxious.” I suppose that is also possible. I haven’t yet refined myself or my message into the beautifully packaged, tactful, and articulate princess version that I long for it to be… but I can’t sit around and wait for that to happen before I begin. If that we’re the case I’d never get anywhere. I have to work with what I have for now, even if it is kind of sloppy, or non-strategic or obnoxious. 

You’d think that starting out with friends and family would be the easier route to learn from in this molding process — you know, starting with the raw clay to build yourself into a beautiful sculpture — but I think it’s really the more painful one. You discern who is willing to stick by your side even when you embarrass them; who is willing to help you grow; and who just wants to protect themselves and distance as far as possible from you and what you’re doing, even if what you’re doing doesn’t merit the distance  (I can understand healthy boundaries from toxic behaviors). 

My wise woman friend didn’t beat around the bush.

“My gut is telling me, however,  that the deeper you travel along this particular journey the more likely you may lose people along the way,” she professed. Deep in my own gut I know she is right. She gave one of my deepest fears a name: loss. 

As far back as I can remember I have never had fulfilling friendships like I do now. It has been so beautiful and heart warming. I am a naive, undiscerning friend collector and have been burned often by choosing the wrong people to call friends — the Bible passage “do not cast your pearls amongst swine” comes to mind. You would think that I would do anything to not rock the boat of this healthy friendship empire I have built — maybe even lie to myself, or deny the path I feel called to walk on. Hoard all the friends! But I have the same feeling I did when I was reticent about proclaiming Christ as my Lord and Savior for losing friends or my reputation: that it is the Truth, and that if I lose people for speaking that Truth, that God will not leave me abandoned… that I must always follow Him first, and not my own popularity, or my fear of being misperceived. 

The truth is that these essential oils have been vital to my health transformation, and that people deserve the opportunity to empower themselves by information that I can share. It would do my friends a disservice if I kept this to myself out of fear. Using oils is about shifting the health paradigm in our modern culture. It’s about preventative, holistic wellness. I could go on and on but this is not the right post for that. 

The truth is I kind of have this “no man left behind” mentality. I want everyone to jump on the personal growth train and claim the quality of life that they deserve. It’s out there, just waiting for them. I hate when fear and ignorance or unwillingness holds someone back. I can be almost aggressive in my coercion when I see someone struggling but refusing to accept help, advice, or resources. I won’t lie… I have, in the past, become angry about it and frustrated with them. That’s not exactly the peace that Christ promises. 

Because here’s another truth: none of that is in my control. I need to cultivate letting go. It’s hard. Surely God is using this method to refine in my soul patience and humility. Only God can open the doors of people’s hearts. My crowbar technique won’t get anyone anywhere. It’s not charitable. Even though I know this intellectually it’s difficult to stop employing the same method that I’ve used for 20+ years! I have to catch myself and bite my tongue in time, which I still fail to do more often than not. It turns people away from me, when really it’s my yearning for their good that got me there. The losses kill me. 

But again, if I waited until I was the perfect friend, I would never get anywhere. People will either understand my intentions and forgive me, or they will move on. Either way, it will eventually all be for our good because that is how He works. 

In the meantime, my friend reminded me that “it’s not about them, but about you and what works for you.” She continued, “you have to honor that and place focus there. Keep your eye on the ball. The people that need to be in your life will be so at the time in which they are needed. People always come and go. And it’s all good.”

Balm to my soul. It is all good. The Lord said be anxious for nothing. My mantra for now is “relax and release, relax and release” — ha, kind of like when I was giving birth! Maybe I’m giving birth to a new self. Loss happens. Growth happens. Fear happens, too. But I refuse to let that hold me back on this journey. 


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