Last year was a bit of a journey of self discovery for me. I learned a lot about myself and my relationships with other people and made a real effort to improve myself. It’s a bit of a fad this whole ‘self-improvement’ kick, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not long since New Year and so especially right now but it seems to have been a buzz-worthy topic for a while and as a self-help fanatic I was very much in to the ‘better yourself’ trend.
Then I read ‘You Do You’ by Sarah Knight and was given a fresh perspective. The book falls in to the ‘love yourself’ category and so I took it with a pinch of salt but by the end I felt conflicted. I’d been telling myself I was too loud, too obnoxious, to play down my achievements and always assume I’m annoying at least 2 people in the room but this book was telling me I was fine the way I was?
I am obsessive by nature and so whether it be a new TV show, a hobby, a recent conversation or a book, I will focus on it excessively for a time before I move on to the next. Last year I became obsessed with myself. That sounds worse than it is but I convinced myself every inch of my personality needed to be fixed and so I ran back over every interaction I had again and again wondering how I could have been different and how the other person perceived me.
It all kicked off when I had my little ‘online crisis’. I was searching for the reason why some people seem to be an overnight success and others (me) crawl along at a snails pace. I’ve managed to avoid this feeling of ‘why don’t people like me’ for a good 10 years and so it knocked me a little and I don’t think I’m quite over it yet. The anxiety of constantly second guessing myself and my behaviour has a physical effect on me. As I type this my shoulders are numb and my chest is tight, thinking about one particular conversation.
There’s someone I know who I’ve always felt sees me as self-involved. I have basically made it my lifes work not to come across that way. I’m not sure where the initial paranoia came from, maybe someone said something to me and it stuck? Regardless, I am so obsessed by not appearing to be obsessed with myself that I essentially am obsessing over myself. Every time I see this person I find myself making endless self-depricating comments, I can’t stop them coming out and it’s all jokey in the moment but this time they weighed on me.
I hold on to comments for far longer than I should. A great example of that would be me making a jokey remark about being selfish and my husband agreeing. I would stew over that for weeks and he would have absolutely no idea he said anything to upset me. Are the other people in these encounters going away with a head full of wonder and potential regret? Do you leave a party, having had a great time and lots of fun with new people only to pick apart every conversation later?
I fall in to that odd category of extroverts who thrive on social interaction only to fall down the rabbit hole when they’re alone again. I get a little bit ‘high’ when I’m with a group of people, no alcohol/drugs necessary I’m just very loud and excitable. Someone (who I would have described as all of the above) once referred to me as a ‘hyper-active toddler’ and rather than see that as a funny thing from one loud mouth to another, it plays in my mind when I’m meeting new people and trying to keep a lid on my crazy.
People like me do not do well with social media. We would love to post those wistful insta pics in cafe’s (I actually did this recently) but would feel like complete tw*ts if we did so (I did feel like a tw*t). We don’t think those who do are complete tw*ts but we are so wrapped up in our own neuroses that we can’t see past it. I’m trying to get over myself but unfortunately every written social interaction is like all of that lonely darkness without any of the high to bolster my confidence. I think that’s why I enjoy YouTube so much, it’s a single sided conversation that I can edit later if I feel it was a bit ‘too me’.
This took a very long and winding road off course, sorry (it was actually supposed to be about something else entirely) but once I started I couldn’t stop. Ultimately, I think I’m pretty cool the way I am. I’ve told people (out loud) that I’m not cool and I know I should change and that was wrong. I like myself, there are people who like me! I’ve told myself I’m an ‘acquired taste’ for so long that I’ve started to believe that people wont like me when they meet me. I’ve warned people ahead of meeting offline for the first time that I can be a ‘bit much’ and that I ‘will make you do karaoke’ because enough people have made off the cuff remarks (that I’m certain they thought nothing of at the time or since) and I’ve let those comments shape my opinion of myself. It’s made me oddly insecure and not want to do things that I used to enjoy. This ends now. There’s nothing wrong me, there’s probably (I mean, I’m not a doctor) nothing wrong with you and it’s about time we stopped letting other people tell us that there is.