I think it’s hilarious when I meet new people and I know that they know absolutely nothing about me. It’s funny especially when I meet them in scenarios that aren’t necessarily scenarios that I feel represent me. I find it funny only because I know that they make their own assumptions of me. Who am I to them? What do they see me as?
I’m not trying to sound conceited when I say that I know that they’re making a judgement of me, it’s just something we all do. When we meet people, we try to contextualize them, figure out whatever we can just from the small pieces of information they give us. Information like: what they’re wearing, who they’re with, what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, and so on. And then we make up our minds about them, until they become nothing but those things in our minds because that’s all we know about them. And I know that people do that with me too. And I just can’t help but be curious as to who I exist as, to them. What does my social media say? What do my actions say?
I think that’s where some of my social anxiety comes from. I become so aware of the fact that they don’t know me, that they cannot contextualize me accurately, they can’t know me the way my closest friends can, they don’t have the right information. I become aware of the fact that whatever I say, whatever I do, whatever I present myself as, is how they’re going to think of me. That’s who I’ll be to them. And I’m always so aware of this, especially when meeting new people, or being around people that don’t know me too well. I become fixated on how to present myself in a certain way so that they don’t misunderstand me. But, obviously, that’s an impossible task.
It’s ridiculous because I know that people will make up their own minds about who you are and that some things are out of your control, especially when it comes to their opinions. But there’s also a part of me that wants to be able to curate it, to manipulate it so that they see me in the way I want them to see me as. Which, again, is something we all do to some degree (obviously some people more than others, like me). So I get anxious and awkward, unsure what I’m supposed to say or do because half the time I don’t know how to present myself in a way that will show them who I really am. I want people to see me for who I really am, to understand me to the fullest degree so that there are no misunderstandings, no misjudgements. I want their judgement of me to be as accurate as possible…because I’m crazy, I don’t know. I don’t really know why it matters to me this much, so much that I would just rather not get to know people at all. But it just does. I hate being misunderstood, I hate the idea that someone has an incorrect opinion about me. I don’t like when my motives are misjudged, when people assume something about me that isn’t true. Sure, I know that their opinions don’t really affect my life and that as long as I know who I am nothing else matters and all that nonsense, but it just gets under my skin. I need you to know who I am as much as I know who I am.
Recently, someone called me outgoing and I was quick to tell them that that isn’t true. I was quick to explain myself, to give a little more context, because in my head that isn’t true. But, in all honestly I could very easily be wrong about myself. Maybe I’ve misunderstood myself. I’m always just so wrapped up in trying to define myself, to figure out who I am and what I am that maybe I lose sight of who I’m becoming. Sometimes I feel like I’m a little too aware of myself that I lose sight of the big picture. I think maybe it comes with just knowing so much about myself and my past that I feel that I can’t completely remove myself from who I used to be. I’ve defined myself a certain way for such a long time that the idea that I’m not that person anymore just doesn’t seem possible to me and so I write it off. It’s so hard sometimes to get out of my head, to see things from a different perspective.
But I can definitely see the perks of people not knowing you. The anonymity it gives you. It’s almost like a super power because you can be whoever you want to be to that person. They don’t know your past, they don’t know your personality/character. But you see, I want to be exactly who I am at all times. I don’t want to be a different person with different people, I want to be exactly who I am with everyone. That’s what makes it so hard for me. I have to figure out how to come across as genuinely as possible while simultaneously trying to figure out for myself, what genuine is for me.
But, I’m working on it.