And so here I am sat in my tiny room, my little corner of the flat, little more than a bedsit, getting quietly pissed and all introspective over the major mistakes of my life. Suddenly I realise one blindingly obvious thing, it all comes down to my complete and utter lack of balls. Not in the conventional sense mind, not to shy away from conflict when it is absolutely necessary, no that is something I don't have a problem with if only because I strongly believe in looking out for your friends. And yet when you get right down to it my courage fails me in the same place as everyone else's, when it is time to face my own personal demons, and my personal demon is rejection, not even that original a demon.

It used to be so much easier to hide, through friends I would find out that someone fancied me, and they would sort of set us up together, problem solved. Then as I got older I also had the additional help of alcohol and or something else to increase courage, and still I found a way to circumvent my fears and insecurities. Then I got to a point where I found I had responsibilities such as exams, then a job, and as such couldn't go out and get wasted as and when I needed to hide from my fears. It suddenly became a lot harder and I found that, after giving up such a hedonistic lifestyle, I always felt to some extent on the outside even when I most definitely wasn't. I had always been quite a social person and found it easy to get on with most people previously, but even now I still only feel secure amongst trusted friends and the rest of the time feel to some extent like an outsider. About this time I found I had something wrong with me that I found a bit embarrassing as it involved a bit of a social taboo (aren't I old fashioned) this only added to my insecurities. So I buried myself in work and used this as an excuse, took opportunities when they were placed in my lap, always taking the easy way out, never risking anything. All to avoid getting hurt, all out of the fear of facing up to my fear. Then as I started to watch my friends settle down, get married, or get a mortgage, or have kids, or any combination of the three. It started to dawn on me that maybe I was getting left behind. I mean, even the most socially inept person out of the group I used to hang around with is now married (he was in-fact the first of the group to get married, and none of us were invited!). Even this nagging feeling I managed to shake off by telling myself that it would happen to me when it happened and there was no point in rushing it… but it will never happen if I never ask people!

So now here I am, I've used every excuse in the book to people, it's not important to me, I'm still getting over my ex, my career is more important to me at the moment, about the only thing I've never used as an excuse is that I'm gay! And all this because I'm scared shitless of asking someone out and hearing that one little word… no. I get near someone I fancy and think about asking her out and I freeze up. I mean I get cold sweats, it feels like someone has put a lump of dry ice in my stomach, my limbs turn to lead, and I lose all ability to speak English, the language I have been speaking for the last twenty something years. For Christ's sake, even when I was blatantly infatuated with a close and long-standing friend, I kept on telling myself that it wasn't worth risking damaging the friendship, to hide the fact from myself that it still was my fear of rejection talking. I still think we would make a good couple.

So what is the answer, if indeed there is one, how do I get over this psychological block? God I wish I knew, for now I can only think that I start trying to get over it and hope. Because the alternative is to grow old lonely and most probably bitter, and that doesn't sound like fun. Psychologists generally seem to believe that there is a reason, a catalyst for this kind of thing, well if there is in this case then I hope that karma does its worst on the bastards that are responsible!

Ian Putwain