Yes, it is a three post kind of day...though the first one was about my days of thanks, so it doesn't really count....
My biggest personal insecurity is with the sincerity of friendships. That seems a weird thing to be insecure about...but, yeah, that's about right.
When I was a little girl, my best friend was popular. I was not. When you're little, it doesn't really matter all that much. Kids play together, and it is what it is. I didn't notice anything weird, nor did I care. Then there was middle school...I hit puberty...or, rather, puberty hit me...with a massive weight gain and a loss of good eye sight. Suddenly I was the fat girl in glasses. I also got a short haircut right around the same time...so I was the fat girl in glasses with a white girl afro. For the sake of complete transparency, here is me in 7th grade:
So, at this point, as my self esteem (rightfully so) began to plummet. And then...
I don't know how it came out or why. I don't remember. Maybe I blocked it out. At some point at the end of 7th grade or beginning of 8th grade, I realized that the vast majority of people I held as friends didn't like me. At all. They hated me, in fact. They hung out with me and acted like my friends because they liked my best friend, the popular girl. They thought I was annoying, nothing more. I almost wrote nothing more and nothing less there...but they obviously did think of me as something less.
People I had thought were my closest friends smiled to my face and talked viciously behind my back. No one told me. I was "that girl". The one everyone dislikes but no one bothers to tell. It becomes a joke, how stupid an naive "that girl" is. The one everyone makes fun of...but no one tells. I was living my life believing everything was fine, I had friends, I was happy.
Then it all, inexorably, shifted.
This event has shaped my life. Since this moment, I have had a very hard time believing in the veracity of friends' claims to enjoy my company.
When I am hanging out with "friends", I spend the majority of the conversation analyzing. Am I talking too much? Am I being annoying? Did they just make a face? What did that face mean? Should I leave soon before I overstay my welcome? Should I even be here? Was I invited out of societal politeness?
When I call someone about getting together, I wonder if they are agreeing out of a sense of obligation or if they actually want to spend time with me. If I am the person doing the contacting for two or three events in a row, I put the person on a mental watch list, trying to let them off the obligatory hook of politeness I may have accidentally stuck them on.
This extends to my family. I notice when someone does something out of the ordinary, shows me special attention, and I can see the puppetry at work behind it. From several of my siblings there is much more of a familial obligation than genuine affection and caring. I try not to hold it against them...they don't really know me, anyway.
The only person I don't put in this category is Mike. Literally, he is the only person I don't worry about...and it took me many years and many, many reassurances before I put him in that category. He is the only one with whom I am just ME...not worried me, or insecure me, or analyst me.
Really, in some ways this insecurity has made me a better person...
I try very hard to listen to other people...a remnant of not believing that anyone really wants to hear anything about me. I found myself sitting for 45 minutes after a meeting at school listening to a woman tell me about the problems in her life. Her house flooded, her daughter was in a car accident, her son doesn't want to take his senior pictures. I don't know that the woman learned anything about me. She didn't ask and I didn't offer. I like to think that maybe she felt better after she left.
I am generous to a fault...a remnant of wanting so badly for people to like me, even just a little. I treat to meals, buy people coffee if I think they'll like it, gift silly things for people just because. I feel very uncomfortable when people pay for things for me. In a way it feels like I'm bribing them for friendship and I feel guilty about my impure motives for my generosity. This of course hurts the credibility of the friendship further, which is a nasty, perpetual cycle....but I think I do some good along the way, too.
I will bend over backwards (not literally...) to make someone's life easier...a remnant of trying to prove my worth. I remember when I was 14 or 15, my sister was home for Christmas and complaining about the lack of mayonnaise in the house. Note, my sister is ten years older than me, and thus capable of going to the store to get some. She didn't. I walked the mile to 7-11 and bought her mayo. I think she might have thanked me for it.
The thing is...all of these things I now do, all of these characteristics I now have, come from a place of selfishness. I have a hard time taking pride in any of them...I'm not generous because I'm a good person. I'm generous because that's all I know how to be. It's the only way I see value in myself. If someone says they see me as a good person, I squirm on the inside because I don't/can't believe that.
Here's the rub: I am in a place in my life where I really, really need to believe that people honestly give a damn about me. I really, really need to feel like I have support. I'm calling in my friendship chips...but my bank is empty. This experience is reaffirming every self doubt and irrational fear that I have.
If people were really my friends, wouldn't they call me?
If people were really my friends, wouldn't they make an effort to get together with me?
If people were really my friends, wouldn't I feel less lonely than this?
If people were really my friends, wouldn't they have acted the way I would have acted if the roles were reversed?
...now, again, to be fair, not all of my friends have let me down. To those that have the link to this blog, it's not your fault...I only gave the link to people who really supported me. You are not among those reaffirming my irrational insecurities...