One of my biggest issues is I’m convinced everyone hates me.

If I see a friend is online but hasn’t responded to my message, I’m convinced it’s the end of the world. No matter how their previous message was kind and affirming, I’m constantly thinking I’m one second away from being rejected. That’s why I’m spending my time in damage control mode.

Even though I have such wonderful people in my life, friendship gives me terrible anxiety. I crave connection to others but I still struggle on how exactly to do it.

Why? I used to wonder but Quarantine 2020 has given me a lot of time alone to figure myself out.

I don’t like myself.

I don’t feel interesting or smart or pretty or normal. I don’t feel like I’m worth anyone’s attention. I think everyone is better than me. I’m still that little girl who was the odd duck, who no one wanted to play with, who didn’t have her first real friendship until she was fifteen years old.

And the older I get, the more accomplished and incredible the people around me, and they seem to naturally bond together in relationships and friendships. I just can’t seem to figure out how to do it.

To make up for it, I shower my friends with love and attention in hopes that they don’t see me the way I see myself and disgustedly abandon me.

I live in constant fear that I’m not worth friendship. That being around me is a chore, unless I can sweeten the deal. When someone is cruel to me, I don’t think they are a bad person. I think I need to do more for them to like me.

It makes me clingy. It makes me annoying. It makes me obsessive. I work frantically to cover up my own flaws, and my only compass in this bewilderness is the approval of others.

The sad thing is, all of these obsessive behaviors drive good people away, making me even more terrified of rejection. Bad people see it as a sign of weaknesses and take advantage of me.

So socializing becomes even more overwhelming. I feel alone, unlovable, and disconnected from the world

The only control I have is giving to others. If I make people happy, they won’t leave me. I believe that if I stopped giving to people, I would be abandoned and forgotten.

One of the very few friends I trust without anxiety asked me if I really thought everyone in my life would ditch me the second I was no longer useful. “Because if that’s true, you’re better off without them.”

Without them, I’m alone in the bewilderness.

With them, I live in terror of the bewilderness.

It’s times like this I wish I had a wise mentor I could turn to. Uncle Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender might be fictional, but he was the best I have at the moment.

“It’s time for you to look inward and start asking yourself the big question. Who are you and what do you want?”

Who am I? I don’t know. I’m scared to look at myself in the mirror.

What do I want? To be loved and appreciated and wanted. I want the hope that one day I’ll feel like I belong. But I don’t think it will ever happen. I’ll always have my hands out, trying to reach and always falling short.

“You must never give into despair. Allow yourself to slip down that road, and you surrender to your lowest instincts. In the darkest times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength.”

I don’t even know how to start giving myself hope. I am scared I’m just deluding myself that I’ll feel anything but rejection.

“Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving you will come to a better place”.

I guess that’s all I can do. Keep reading, keep learning, keep trying.

Writer, lawyer, Kravist, friend