Howdy friends! I just found this draft from a few years back, and it spoke to some wounds of mine that have since reopened. I found it helpful, so I thought I might just dump it on the internet.
It’s been a minute since I’ve written something that makes it sound like I’m a way more competent and accomplished person than I actually am, so I thought I would come talk about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. I know there is a lot going on in the world right now and that my story is of little to no importance period, particularly at a time of global upheaval. I just wanted to write something to take my mind off things, and maybe it can do the same for you, too.
You know when you can just feel the judgment coming from somebody else? That sixth sense like the one when you know you’re being watched, that inkling of tension/criticism/disgust aimed directly at you? To be clear, I’m not talking about the tricks that manic paranoia can play on you, that can convince you that everybody hates you when that is not, in fact, the truth. What I’m talking about is the real, palpable tension we have all experienced at some point in our lives with somebody (or multiple bodies) — when you just know someone thinks you suck or are too into yourself or whatever. Usually, when I become suspicious that someone is feeling that way toward me, evidence proving that I’m right follows close behind. I’ve been excluded from more parties than whatever Penn Badgley’s annoying a** character in Gossip Girl’s name is, chewed out by more people than Donald Trump, made fun of and snickered at and told off more times than most normal sane folk experience in a lifetime. Not to say woe is me, I’ve given it right back to a few people along the way, and I’m definitely deserving of y’all’s criticism for a multitude of reasons. I just want to talk about how I handle the knowledge that so-and-so doesn’t like me or thinks I’m not as smart as I think I am or whatever. How a girl who hates her own self a lot of the time (thanks, depression) doesn’t let the haters get to her.
First of all, I count my blessings. If I’m in the trenches during a particularly low period, feeling like the odd man out, I remind myself first and foremost of the people that I happen to know do actually like me. I have a list on my phone of what looks like random names, but they’re actually the names of those who comprise my “corner” at a given time. Sometimes I’ll even include people like the mailman, a stranger with whom I’ve just had a positive encounter. Remind yourself of anyone who has seen and felt your light in recent memory. Anyone you’ve connected with. I’ve found that showing myself hard evidence that I still have sufficient redeemable qualities to be friendly and engaging, even during a lonely time, has been very reassuring for me.
When I feel alone in this world, like what friends I may have had have come to dislike me or like I can’t measure up to the peers I deem “normal” or “more successful,” I immediately remind myself of the one simple truth that has helped me survive through it all: it’s just not that serious. My dad has told me that since I was young (I think maybe he’s paraphrasing Neil Young…? Idk), and it’s the ultimate humbling fact. It’s just not that serious. Just because some girl who has interacted with you for a collective sixteen minutes over the past five years thinks you’re lame doesn’t mean that you’re lame. It actually doesn’t really mean anything at all. We’re all just sentient, hairless apes trying to get through the day. The development of one’s psychological makeup is so complex and intricately interwoven a story that it’s impossible to fully understand why a certain person reacts to another person negatively or positively, really. The freaking texture of your hair could trigger someone who was bitten by a similarly shaggy dog as a toddler. Or the reason could be something much more recent and obvious. Either way, it doesn’t have any bearing on the way you choose to live your life. I try to push myself to tackle each day with an optimistic outlook and some level of self-assurance, even if I feel like I have no friends. The way others see you is not a fraction as important as the way you see you. I know that’s a cliche and a half, but it’s true. Keep doing your thing. It’s not that serious.
A step I often take that can be hugely helpful when trying to build up camaraderie is to look inward and see if there is anything you can do to “fix” in a given relationship. Apologizing is the surefire way out of old bitternesses or clashes. This, of course, is only applicable to certain cases, but bucking up and giving an apology to someone who doesn’t expect it, who maybe doesn’t even deserve it, can completely flip the relationship dynamic. If I’m feeling tension with someone for a reason that has anything to do with my actions, I always consider whether saying sorry would be appropriate because it is by far the most effective means of patching up broken social ties (duh). Falling on your sword and admitting fault takes courage, and even those who judge you most harshly have to respect a sincere attempt to right whatever wrongs may have occurred between you. Again, I know this doesn’t apply to the majority of cases, but when it does…using it can be incredibly helpful.
This is where my draft ended I wonder where I was headed. I should finish more of these, but I’m not really in the greatest headspace at the moment, so I’ll just leave this here. Love and light from this quickly-dimming sparkler.