Often I assume that people think the worst about me. Instead of seeing me as a person, others snicker or gasp in disgust at me and my problems. Not only does this scare me away from making friends, it also causes me to doubt current relationships.
Does this ever happen for you? My head tells me so many different critiques. Boys sneer at me as ugly and fat while girls fear being associated with me. No one thinks that I deserve to eat. My boss wants to fire me and all my teachers view me as a stupid kid who talks to much. To put it briefly, I fear that everyone hates me but is too kind to say anything.
Worrying about all of these opinions quickly becomes draining. Slowly, through my recovery, I have gained confidence and hope that others will accept me even with my flaws. Yet, I still doubt this. The more I interact with others, the more this intense fear increases.
However, the last few days I have been bombard with messages of love from many people. Many of these interactions seem normal to others. But to me, they meant a great deal although they frighten me as well.
First, a dear friend at school walked with me and listened to me between classes. At the end, Celine (yes you, wonderful!) nudged me playfully. “I like being friends with you. We’re pretty cool together.” Those words are so simple but they hit right into my heart. A girl who is funny, beautiful, talented, kind, and smart considered me her friend! Honestly, I could not stop smiling for the next hour.
Then, the professor who is in charge of the student newspaper sent me an email. After telling me how great the website looked, he urged me not to push myself too far. “One of the goals of this semester is not to kill Anna Rose.” Just the fact that he enjoyed my work yet cared about my well-being meant a great deal. Plenty of other things need priority time for him but he decided to remind me of my potential while addressing my tendency to perfectionism.
Finally, at work last night, my boss sang a little ditty for me a few times. Although silly, the words made me smile and blush each time. “Who’s the best young lady in the whole wide world? Anna Rose, Anna Rose, Anna Rose!” With his thick Greek accent and huge grin, I knew that he not only was being silly but also wanted to make me feel happy.
Although simple, these three people reached out and let me know that they cared about me. Instead of closing them off, I allowed myself to be vulnerable. Why would these wonderful people who I deeply respect and love lie to me?
Suddenly, I realized that I cannot both uphold a positive image of them and believe that they secretly hate me. By saying that they are simply being nice or leading me on, I am calling these people liars. Not only am I degrading myself, I am also tarnishing their image. They certainly deserve more respect and trust than that.
Thus, I decided to try something new by accepting their compliments. Guilt and self-loathing still whisper that I am not worth praise. However, this choice opens me up to being honest with others and allowing self-compassion into my life. Perhaps one day, I will even be able to see those same positive qualities that they see in me today.