It’s strange how other people’s ideas about you can be so surprising sometimes.
I have one friend who I love for her complete honesty. I always say she’s good for the soul. Just talking to her about anything helps me get a bit of perspective and calms me down from my rants. She reacts completely naturally without forethought or politics or filtering. She’s not unkind or rude, just beautifully honest.
Sometimes that’s wonderful, sometimes it’s a bit awkward. She turned up in tears on my doorstep with flowers the day after we lost boy3 (Reactions to loss). She’s also reminded me of how trivial things are when I’ve been wound up – who cares whether school uniform tee shirts are yellow or white?
Today I was talking about the various swimming teachers that run classes and said one is a bit military. My friend asked if the teacher scared me, I said yes, kind of. My friend’s response was “wow she must be scary, I can’t imagine you being scared of many people”.
I laughed that off with a gentle, quiet “you have no idea”.
The thing is, I’m dwelling on her off the cuff comment. It’s echoes things I’ve heard before. My bosses boss, 8 years ago, called me a “fire dragon” – because I’m forthright I assume. My best friend from university (who ghosted me 4 yrs ago, but that’s another story) called me “feisty” – which I felt defensive about, she was trying to be kind I’m sure but effectively saying the same thing as my friend today.
They think I’m some sort of hard nut, strong and unafraid. Maybe they also think I’m unemotional and cold?
They have no idea.
I put huge amounts of energy into reacting to my fear of hurting, offending, annoying people, anyone. I overthink so many conversations and interactions, worrying what people think of me. I overthink their Facebook posts when I don’t get tagged (Unintended exclusion hurts too).
I’m afraid someone will realise I’m totally winging it at my job, making it up as I go along and hanging onto good luck – and I have been for 13 years almost. Yeah yeah, imposter syndrome and delusional. I rationally know that I’m pretty good at my job, colleagues appreciate me and give me responsibility. If I was really useless it would have come crashing down years ago.
I’m scared of pretty much everyone I meet. Scared they’ll dislike me and tell me so, that they’ll judge my choices, that they’ll abandon me when I trust them.
Here’s the thing though. Why don’t my close friends see that? They’ve seen me cry and heard my fears. Somehow they still see me as strong and fearless.
Why does it worry me that they see me as strong? Isn’t being strong and unscathed, forthright, a good thing? Shouldn’t I be proud of that?
I just wish my friends saw the real me.