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Friends Will Be Friends
Posted by dirkgently1066
10th May 2016

It is an unfortunate fact of life that, no matter how hard you try, some people just arenít going to like you.

Now there are many potential responses to this. Some of us will care not a jot, dismissing the opinions of others as irrelevant, taking comfort from their circle of friends and their own sense of self-worth.

Others will be crushed, seeing all their worst fears confirmed and retreating into their shell.

Then there is a third camp, where I find myself. I tell myself that these opinions are irrelevant, that I have a circle of strong relationships, that I am an inherently kind, honest and thoughtful person, or at least try to be. I remind myself not to judge myself by anotherís standard, not to allow someone elseís opinion to take precedence over my own. I tell myself this, then I ignore it all.

You see despite the front I sometimes put up, despite the confidence that I can occasionally exude and despite the impression I strive for of being in control, inside I am wracked by doubt, indecision and a fundamental, crippling lack of self-confidence. I never feel good enough, never feel popular enough, actively seeking out signs to confirm any negative thoughts I hold of myself. Despite craving affection, I resist opportunities to bond through a fear of rejection and humiliation, in turn feeding a cycle of loneliness and regret. If you go looking for negatives, the chances are you will find them.

Whatever the worst criticism that another may have of me, the chances are I have already had it and likely at ten times the ferocity. Not wanting to appear weak, I attempt to front it out, one of the many masks I have become adept at slipping on as circumstances may dictate. Anything to avoid admitting how I truly feel.

In another post, the question was put to me, why was I so concerned by what someone elseís opinion was? At the time, I didnít have a good answer but it is now obvious; my fundamental lack of self-confidence causes me to seek validation from others. Where I do not find it (or perceive to have lost it), I retreat to lick my wounds.

So perhaps a better question is, why do I lack so much for self-confidence? And that is an altogether harder question to answer. Undoubtedly it is a combination of factors, from redundancy to weight, university to childhood. I still feel like I am searching for a place to fit in, keeping myself on the outside for fear of not being accepted. I want those close relationships but hold myself back, becoming resentful and bitter at those who are accepted when I feel I am not, even though the only person holding me back is me. There is an underlying sense of jealousy, everything must be judged, everything compared. I am not funny because someone else is. I am not popular because someone else is. I am not liked because someone else is. These are inflexible thinking errors, seeing life only as black and white and missing a world full of colour.

As ever, the thought occurs to me that I didnít used to be like this. I felt confident to drive the banter bus, disinterested in personality clashes, unaffected by perceived slights. I knew what I was good at and ignored everything else. And yet it is this outwardly confident person that ended up in therapy, floored by the double punch of depression and anxiety.

That experience changed me indelibly. I am more open but as a result, more vulnerable. I feel as though I have lost the capacity, at least for now, to sort the valid critique from the unwarranted criticism with the result that every perceived slight is an eternal mark of shame that I must wear round my neck like an albatross, the slightest crossed word or disagreement built into OMG THEY HATE ME FOREVER. I second guess my actions, reign myself in. It is almost as though I feel I must apologise for being me.

I can be annoying, I know that. But then so can everyone, right? We all have our good days and bad days. We all have habits that can one day be endearing, another day make you want to rip the personís throat out.

And I can be arrogant, rude and condescending. I donít mean to be. I like to think Iím a better person than I used to be. Tomorrow, I hope to be a better person than I was today.

After all, life is a journey and Iím grateful to those of you who choose to walk with me.

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