Whenever someone calls me over or states my name, I start to panic. Instantly I wonder, “Am I in trouble?”
This reaction has developed over the years. As a young child, I rarely wondered this. When people wanted to speak with me, they saw something special in me and wanted to be my friend. It is amazing how optimistic and trusting children are. Anyway, I would prance over to whoever wanted me with a bright smile and look at them expectantly. Maybe they would ask me to do a special task or perhaps want to know some information. Even better, they might compliment something I had worked so hard to achieve.
Unfortunately, this ended up hurting me. Girls insulted my naive questions and chubby body. Boys teased me relentlessly in the name of fun and friendship. Even adults would tell me of my lack of social skills or mistakes that I made.
Finally I gave up. Instead of assuming the best, I began to regard everyone as hating me. Whenever someone called me out, they must want to criticize me. People who I greatly admired scared me the most. Friends’ parents, teachers, and my theater director all seemed to like me. However, I was sure that eventually they would see all my flaws and hate me forever.
Every moment, I lived in fear of making a mistake or being in trouble. How often I apologized became a joke but in reality, it reflected my fear of others and hatred of myself. How could someone as awful and broken as me ever interact with normal people? Frustrated at my inability to blend into a crowd, I shut myself away in my room with only books and imaginary characters for comfort.
This fear still haunts me. When professors ask me to stay after class, I cringe. Apologizing still comes more easily to me than anything else. However, I am mending this part of my life. Day by day, I begin to open up to the possibility that people do not hate me. Perhaps I am not always in trouble. That is a great comfort.