I wasn’t always afraid of the world. Somewhere along the road of life, I learned to be scared of people and trying new things. I grew desperate for people to like me, and somehow that became more important than liking myself.
Few people that know me well even know the depths of anxiety that I have struggled with throughout my life. As I was opening up to a friend just a few weeks ago about some of my anxious behaviors, she commented that I must hide it well. Believe me, I do. I try my very hardest to hide from the world that I can get so terrified of something that I will shut down and be curled up in a ball on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.
I learned from an early age not to trust people. I hesitate using words like “bullied” because nowadays, some kids really have it bad, but if I don’t, then I’m lessening my own experience and possibly telling other kids out there that what was said to me is okay, and it’s not. I had a few instances from my childhood where kids said things or made fun of me in ways that apparently shaped me more than I knew.
I remember being embarassed about bringing my lunch from home and what was in it, so I would keep the food inside my brown paper bag and only pull out one bite at a time. This of course got me labeled as “weird.” Part of my longing for people to like me put me a table of girls in middle school that I wished to be friends with, considering I didn’t really have any friends at the time. I sat between two girls who constantly leaned forwards or backwards to talk around me, but not to me. This got me nicknamed, “The Wall.” Why didn’t I just move away from these girls that hurt my feelings? Because I was desperate to fit in, and have friends. Sitting by myself wasn’t an option.
Facing these events from my past has allowed to me see just how much they influence me today. I don’t like upsetting people, and I hate, hate, HATE making mistakes in front of people for fear they will laugh at me. It takes a long time for me to truly open up around people, and even then, I’m constantly on guard. It’s lonely and sad. Sometimes I get to the point of cynicism about people, thinking that they will just let me down anyways, so why bother opening up to them?
I don’t want to be that person. I never wanted to be before, but I certainly don’t want to be that person now as I near my 30th year on this earth. That’s actually a big part of why I started this blog, because I wanted something to force me out of my comfort zone. The problem is that I often stumble. It’s hard to run a successful blog when you stay home most of the time. How can I tell you how awesome Grand Rapids is if I’m too afraid to try that new restaurant, or go to that new store by myself?
There are acutally a decent amount of people out there, already spreading the word about the great city I live in, whether on blogs or on Instagram, and I envy them. They look like they’re having so much fun, and more often than not, I will have an idea for a blog post but be too afraid to go there and inevitably it’s up on someone else’s blog or Instagram days later.
This is what I can offer: a unique perspective, not only on Grand Rapids, but on life because this journey is mine, but I know I’m not the only one. I want to reach out to those that think and feel like me, that struggle to make it out of their homes and into the world. I want you to know that you are NOT alone, and that we’re in this together.