For a long time, and even now to a somewhat lesser degree, I didn’t want people to see me. I’m not sure when it started. I’m one of six kids, so I was just a number anyway. I graduated in a high school class of 1,000 people. We had 24 valedictorians. That is ridiculous.
But being singled out made me VERY uncomfortable. That meant someone was JUDGING me. And that was just intolerable. I was quiet and extremely self-conscious. If I was noticed, I wanted to go and hide, even if it was for something good, like flute playing. But ESPECIALLY if it was for something terrible and HORRIBLE like being quiet and shy I wanted to crawl in a hole.
This bled over into every area of my life. I sat in the back of the lecture hall, didn’t want teachers to know me, didn’t want kids looking at me. I thought I was weird because I was quiet, so I internalized it.
But even the good stuff I felt bad about. As I got older, I got comments about what I looked like – “you’re so skinny”. I actually saw a file on anorexia fall out of my patient file while I was seeing a doctor for stomach pains. I ate normally for the record, and the doctor denied about knowing how that pamphlet got in my file. Thus began my distrust of doctors. Absolutely infuriating. I had developed the pains due to stress trying to be perfect – because, wait for it, I didn’t feel good enough.
I’m not sure what I was supposed to do about how I looked, but I began to feel bad about it and extremely uncomfortable, as if I was making people feel bad by the way that I was. I worked out to feel better, I just felt tired.
I know this isn’t rocket science, but it was draining me beyond belief to constantly internalize what others thought of me. I suppose we are all brought up trying to please our parents, then please our teachers, then please the boss. It’s insidious. At what point do we please ourselves?
It is not BAD to be reserved. It isn’t BAD to be naturally thin, which is so strange to me anyway! It also isn’t BAD if you have a job other people would “kill” for, but is absolutely sucking the life out of you. We need to stop labeling things in our mind as good or bad.
It’s GOOD to realize that well, no one I know has all their shit together. No, I’m pretty sure that asshole boss micromanaging you in the office has issues that have nothing to do with you. It’s kind of liberating really. I’m not saying don’t do your work, but letting someone totally destroy your self-esteem is NOT ok.
Where I’m currently living and am originally from in DC, the first question is unfortunately, what do you do? We have to realize that what we “do” is not who we are. Am I only good enough if I do something that sounds interesting or powerful to you? There is no “good enough”. I love the phrase that we are “human beings”, not “human doings”.
So you and I, we are ok. Really. Be glad you’re not that outgoing, brown nose asshole in the office who gets the promotions. Is that who you really want to be anyway?