Despite what my somewhat stoic and taciturn demeanor might suggest, I am deeply concerned with what others think of me. It sounds pathetic, but I thrive on acceptance and recognition in order to feel satisfied with myself. Conversely, the prospect of rejection and failure terrifies me. I know this preoccupation with pleasing everyone is unhealthy, but it is not so easy to eliminate it from my life.
The fear of rejection has a way of seeping into every little aspect of my day. Because I regularly monitor and overthink everything I plan to say, I tend to be appallingly quiet in social situations, which is greatly frustrating. In conversation, I often offer nothing but a desperate smile as words become trapped inside my chest and refuse to come out.
However, I do endeavor to build up my self-confidence and independence, little by little. I can’t keep acting like a mindless puppet, I tell myself; I can’t let others determine my happiness. I joined the staff of The Moor newspaper partly so I could become more confident in my abilities to interact and communicate with others, as well as develop my writing skills, which is something I wanted to be proud of. The interviews with strangers, the emails to administrators, the red edits written all over my articles — they all terrified me at first, but I knew I had to face my fear.
This is also why I applied for this column: to prove to myself that I do deserve to be heard, that my voice does have some merit. And I do think that I am beginning to realize that.
When I feel that a person dislikes me, those familiar symptoms arise: my skin burns hot and my heartbeat reverberates throughout my body, but then I take back control. I remind myself of what is most important: how I feel about myself.