Nearly every day, my mind plays the same draining tape: “You are lazy. You accomplish nothing. You should be ashamed.”
Eight or nine hours worked six days every week? They don’t count. Any preparation for my masters program this coming autumn? It wasn’t enough. Any cleaning or other task? I should have done it weeks ago.
Being agreeable and getting along with others has always been important to me.
Sure, I was the shy, antisocial girl who answered too many questions in class and barely talked in the hall. Peers stopped talking when I entered the room, believing me too naive to handle anything slightly inappropriate. Others giggled at my lack of social skills or complained to my face about strange traits.
Still, I wanted others to like me. This continues to be a goal of mine. The more people who like me, the better. Even if I do not like the other person, I hope he or she respects and enjoys me.
Why is it so scary to leave the house? I might be running to the grocery store, going to Universal Studios with friends, or heading to work. Each time, terror fills me and makes me want to stay rooted in my home.
There are times in my life when these fears diminish a bit. Yet, they always pop back up few months or years later.
Is this social anxiety? Aspergers? PTSD? Depression? A mixture of everything?
I wish that I could explain to others how scary this is. I want friends and to socialize but need people to come to me sometimes. Instead of always going out, I long for someone to enter into my bubble and just be with me.
Maybe someday there will be someone like that in my life. There were some people back in Minnesota perhaps, but now they are gone. Once again, I am forced to emerge.
I am sorry, neighbors, that I look at you with terrified eyes when you try to say “Hi” while I am walking. That I rapidly turn and scurry in the other direction when I see you even begin to leave your front door. That I would rather pass by a huge black snake than you and your dog.
I am sorry, neighbors, that social anxiety seizes me and propels me away from other humans. That my heart begins to shake whenever I see a car drive by me. That I envision each person around kidnapping, torturing, and killing me.
Being in Orlando has taught me a strange fact: I draw people to myself.
Writing that means that I must admit it which is hard. Me, a people person? Me, someone who others like? Me, friendly?
Yet, it is true. Whether chatting with a stranger on the bus or the new person at work, I enjoy knowing people’s stories which they, in turn, enjoy telling. When numerous people are asking to hang out, I must admit that something I am doing (or maybe who I am????) is making friends. Strange how I have changed over the years.
Sometimes I just want to be alone and not be found.
The past few days, I have kept pretty quiet in hopes of being left alone. A few friends were contacted, but I mostly just stayed silent at home. Fear of seeing people or them even knowing I was back in the state overwhelmed me.
Was there a certain person or group of people that made me nervous? I am not sure. However, my panic set in whenever I imagined anyone finding me.
Is this PTSD? Isolation from depression? Social anxiety from Aspergers? I am not sure.
What I do know is that there are times when I just must be alone. Maybe I do not even want to be alone but I must. It is a strange feeling and overpowering to say the least.
Tomorrow, I am returning to Florida. Most of me is excited. Yet that fear of being found still lingers. Will it haunt me even in the Sunshine State?
My roommate said this amazing phrase the other day: “You have a way with people.”
“Yeah, a way of making them annoyed,” I wanted to quip. However, the negative remarks just stayed in my head as I smiled in thanks.
Her response had to do with a story I had told her about my day. Earlier that afternoon, I went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios for the first time. Stepping into Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade was truly a magical experience.
The other day when I was grouping people onto the carousal – AKA herding them into a small space to count how many people will be on the next ride – which is a job that terrifies me because I need to tell guests to do something they hate doing, a fellow cast member and great friend named Amanda said one of the sweetest things ever.
“You have gotten so good with people!” She beamed. “I feel like a proud mother.”
Being alone can teach you about yourself and others.
“Two is a pair. Three is a crowd.”
That saying might not be true, but I have certainly experienced it at times. Children pair up, having a best friend and sometimes even a second best friend. Girls giggling with others while passing me by, being picked last for a team, roommates making plans while I watched – being alone has been an important part of my life.
With my lovely friends Daniela and Claudia at training
“I admire how you so easily talk with people and make friends.”
I was astonished by my roommate’s words. Is that true? Never in my life have I thought of myself as someone who attracted people or made friends easily. If anything, others saw me as a replaceable friend – good for when no one else was around but pushed aside when someone better came along the way.