Feeling like you’re being genuine all the time can become quite difficult. There’s been many a time where I’ve been in the middle of a conversation with an old friend and end up thinking “this just isn’t me.” It’s like, depending on who I am with I’m transformed into the person I once was when our friendship was the closest, and I’ll openly admit that isn’t the person I am anymore nor is it even close to who I want to be.
Of course, I find it difficult to be myself in front of strangers and tend to retract into this self concious bubble who is too polite and quiet to even try and get my own point of view across. I wish I could be ultra confident, but that’s just not me.
But then at the same time, I’m worse at being myself infront of those people I’ve known years and years. I think I find it so hard because they expect me to be the person who they met at school or wherever else. That girl who didn’t give a damn, the one who was a bit of a bitch at times, and the one who was happy and upbeat pretty much all the time.
In some ways it is quite refreshing to have people know me before things got a bit different because we share all these memories that make constant conversation and it’s like there’s a little string that ties us together because of it. Yet also, at the same time, it adds quite a lot of pressure to be that person too – and I often find myself slowly sinking into that other alien self.
And then I wonder why I feel so anxious and uncomfortable.
When I left college, so many lies were told that those “qualities” have kind of become me. I was too embarassed to say to people “I left because going felt completely draining” or even try to explain my anxiety problems, and felt it was easier to lie about it. Even more so when I felt so judged for not leaving into a job, meaning I’d hide away in my room whenever somebody knocked on the front door to avoid that dreaded question of “so what are you doing now?”.
Then there’s also those people who know about my anxiety, but think I’m dying or something. They treat me like I’m ill and can’t possibly go out with them and be “normal”. They’ll say “sorry I didn’t invite you, but I thought you’d be nervous and I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable” – yeah, thanks for looking out for me but that only makes it worse.
It feels like those people are just waiting for me to have a panic attack, and I know that’s not the case at all and they’re only trying to look out for me by making sure I’m OK, but when that happens, it’s incredibly difficult to not to panic. When they ask “are you feeling anxious?” it becomes a battle of trying not to think of the elephant. I start thinking “maybe I do feel a little bit sick,” or “actually, I might just go out for some air – just in case”, then completely ruin my night by massively overthinking every little feeling I have. Then I’ll sometimes get those sympathetic smiles from across the room, the unnecessary fake niceness from the people I haven’t spoken to in ages, and them mouthing “are you OK?” whenever they catch my glance.
It’s strange how the line between helping someone and making someone feel like utter crap can be so blurred.
I think we all fail to see a person for who they are and not for who they were, or who we expect them to be. We all acknowledge that people change when you drift apart from someone or fall out, yet if we just accepted them in the first place those arguments and frustrations could probably have been avoided.
Feeling uncomfortable around our closest friends and family members shouldn’t be the case, should it? Those are the people who we should feel the most like ourselves around. I think honesty is the key and once we stop lying about everything and being true to ourselves regardless of who it is we’re around, it becomes much easier to feel accepted and comfortable – regardless of what they might think.
I’m too afraid to be judged, laughed at or bitched about, and so instead spend my time feeling anxious and full of panic, and only now am I realising that it’s just not worth it. If I get judged by those people I thought I was close to for being myself, is that really a friend I wanted to have in the first place?
My mum always says: those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. And I definitely need to apply that to my own life a little more.