Fear is defining my life lately.
This isn’t a pleasant conclusion to come to as you can imagine. I’d like to think that I, for the most part, exude a certain amount of confidence. I’d even say, if it isn’t too bold, that I’ve managed to fool most people into thinking that I feel secure with myself. Ha.
I’ve lived under the perpetual belief that everyone secretly hates me for the past ten years of my existence and I’m kind of over it. I think everyone feels that way from time to time; I’d even argue that it’s an essential ingredient to the human condition. But my fear of taking up too much space, being too bold, or too invasive is driving me towards insanity.
It’d be easy to pin this feeling on a small but traumatic lunch room incident when I was in the second grade, but I’m starting to believe it’s far beyond simple rejection. I think I hold a certain shame in my existence—I’m obsessed with this idealized persona of myself and the idea of anyone seeing past that terrifies me to no end. I feel like if I say the wrong thing or let anyone outside my very tight group of friends know any of the things I care about, they’ll come to be disappointed, bored, or worst of all annoyed.
The worst part right now is that this fear has started to bleed into my creative work the more aware I become of how closely attached it is to me and the prying eyes of my peers. In reality my world wouldn’t implode if someone believe that something I wrote sucked. My problem, however, begins to take root in people thinking that because of that, I suck.
I’m in a current dilemma. I could A) drop all of my bullshit and push myself to be more daring once in awhile or B) I could continue to play it safe and save myself from all the inevitable and impending heartbreak. A is our obvious choice.
But it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes, although there are highlights, I do suck. I’m really soft-spoken, so most people can’t hear me in loud group settings. I’m also insanely uncomfortable talking in most groups expect when it’s my closest friends. I’m either overly talkative or uncomfortably quiet when I’m in conversation with others and sometimes I nod and smile when people speak to me instead of bothering to process a word of what’s being said.
I use self deprecating humor because I grew up in a generation whose main source of comedy is formulated as such, even though it’s honestly just sad and uncomfortable to listen to. I’m a Cancer, so of course I’m emotionally unstable. Sometimes I’ll isolate myself away from the people I care about more than the world because I’ll convince myself that they don’t actually like me or want to speak to me, inevitably distancing us further.
I want to talk to literally 10,000 different people and befriend them, but I never do because I convince myself that they either a) are too cool for me or b) want nothing to do with me. Even if I do end up talk to those people, I still manage to convince myself that everything about our friendship is fake.
I also dissociate 50% of the time—partly to ease the pain of being alive and at school but mainly because the stress and sadness of being alive at the moment is too much and if I snap out of it anytime soon I might actually kill myself.
Yet there’s a reason I’m writing this all out on here and not in my journal to look back on in a few months and pity myself over. I’m exposing myself because acceptance is the first step. I’m exposing myself because I need to be held accountable for my self-sabotaging bullshit. I’m exposing my inner workings because deep down, you’re reading my words because something is sticking for you.
We all need to breathe and lower our fists every now and then. I think that most of us never learn to live audaciously until the ripe age of 40, and as much as I’m looking forward to how enlightened I’ll be by that time, I think it’d be ridiculous to wait that long. I deserve to be happy and live my life the way I desire. I deserve to let myself feel proud of the work I’m doing. I deserve to let myself talk to the people I watch from afar when I walk the halls with my headphones in. I deserve to keep singing my lungs out in the car when I pull into the student parking lot, banging my head like a poltergeist is taking over my body. I deserve to live the life I’ve always wanted.
When I think of people who live the closest to fearlessly as any teenager can, I think of my friend Irene. We were talking the other day about people, especially one person in particular that always makes me nervous to talk to. She told me that she never really acknowledged status with others. She just sees a new person to come and understand.
I haven’t been the same since.
To be clear, the girl isn’t superhuman by any means, but if there’s one gift she has that I can only hope to get a fraction of, it is her ability to connect. That’s what I want to work on. I want to connect this year before I have to cut ties with my home. I want to connect with myself, connect with people, and connect with the world. Only then will I ever be able to get where I want to go. Only then can I live a little bit more freely.
Right now I’m going to be kinder to myself. I hope you can come to do the same.