One of my best friends just enlightened me today that when he first met me, he really didn't like me. To me, it seems completely rational that it would upset me. It's not as if I am mad at him; he is entitled to his opinion. I only wonder why he did not like me initially and if I give off a certain impression that maybe others feel as well.
My freshman year in college, I roomed with a girl I had known my entire life, we were raised as infants together, and though I had never been close to her as we got older, I found that rooming with her was a better option than expanding my horizons and living with a random stranger. I basically only went to the dining hall with her and my other high school friends for the first month or so. I found out later, that my entire hall thought I was extremely stuck up, until I started opening up and hanging out with them. I've never thought to classify myself as shy, but for some reason, I have a hard time introducing myself to new people.
After being in college for six years, and staying in relatively the same place, I have opened up and have a wide variety of friends, all who mostly know each other or have no problem interacting with each other when introduced in a situation. I wonder though, with all of my issues of opening myself up to new people, how did I end up with such an amazing group of friends, and after all of this time, do people still initially find my bashfulness as me being stuck up?
I have great anxiety when it comes to introducing myself to new situations. I go to the same bar, I hang out with the same friends, I only go to events when I know the majority of the people that will be there, and I get very uncomfortable when the unexpected happens. If I am presented with an awkward situation, my response is fifty/fifty. Half the time I will hide or flee from the situation, and the other half, if a decent amount of alcohol has been introduced, I can become this fiesty individual who will say exactly what's on my mind and be, well, rude. If a guy is hitting on me at the bar I have no problem blatantly telling him that I am not interested, and if he continues to bother me, tell him he has no reason to even be trying to speak with me because he is not at my level. So why, when faced with these situations do I have the strength to speak up, yet I find trouble walking into a place alone, even when my friends are there?
I think, in part, my previous situations with guys have lead me to be very strong on speaking my mind of what is, and what is not okay for me to handle. I am not willing to put myself in a situation where a guy may think I am interested and end up doing something I am not comfortable with. Perhaps I always have this instinct to avoid what I am uncomfortable with, and sometimes I am more open to expressing it than others. Or, perhaps, I am completely aware that my awkwardness with going to a party with new people, or walking into a bar alone and meeting up with friends there, is completely irrational and that is why I feel more hesitation towards expressing how uncomfortable I am.
This constant anxiety can, at times, completely control and dictate my life. I avoid certain situations, I am always fearful of what other people think of me, I gauge people's reactions and act in accordance with how I think they want me to. There are only certain few people that I really allow myself to be myself and even then my behavior can bother them and I crumble and enclose myself in a invisible ball and try not to let them see how much it really cuts me to the core. I am always seeking approval. The odd thing is, when I reflect upon who I am as a person, I really am quite content. I know that for the most part, I am a kind, caring, compassionate, and mostly selfless person. I always try to see how my friends may be feeling, and help them when they are down and need help. I do not push my beliefs or attitudes among others, I usually try and see their side and most times, apologize even when I feel I am right in an argument because I can understand why they feel the way they do. I care too much, but I prefer to be that way because of how many times I have been cut down or taken advantage of by people who do not care what other people think. My first real relationship was with a guy who acted like he didn't care what other people thought of him, and as a result he often did whatever he wanted, and hurt me a lot, without a care because that was just who he was. Since that moment, I have always vowed that I would rather care too much than not enough. All in all, the person that I am, while may be seen as weak, is someone that I am quite proud of, and I hold myself in quite high confidence. So, why is it then, that something as small as a friend telling me that once, a year and a half ago, he didn't really like me, can really disturb me and make me so insecure?
Maybe I always have the doubt deep down, that I am wrong about myself. Even though I am confident about who I am as a person, others may not like me and that seems very hard for me to understand. What kind of person would not like a kind, caring individual? Why do people always seem drawn to those people who don't care about anything or anyone, and as a result, constantly get trampled on them? Is it out of respect, or fear? And is fear a way really to make friends? I find it disgusting to think about having my friends be afraid of me. But yet, I know several people who stay close to certain people because they are afraid of what would happen if they stood up to them. I guess the insecurity comes from me not really understanding why people wouldn't like me. I know that I have certain flaws, I am not claiming to be perfect, but I find myself a faithful devoted friend. So what is it about me in the beginning that can give off a negative impression? Is it my defenses? Because of being so uncomfortable around new people, and new, uncertain situations, do I present myself as seemingly better than others and give off a negative impression? Because if so, I feel like that is something that I can work on, to better myself as a person.
Ultimately, why do we even care what other people think about us? Most people have friends, and most of those friends accept us for who we are. So why is it that if someone doesn't like us, some people become as insecure as I do, and worry and try to please that person to find acceptance? I have no problem if I do something I believe in, and someone has a problem with it and doesn't like me. That actually doesn't bother me. But when I have done nothing to someone, or when it is unknown exactly what I did to someone has caused them not to like me, this is when I find myself disturbed. I don't find this to be a negative thing. Some people say that we shouldn't care what others think of us. Let it go, they say. But for me, that is nearly impossible. I seek out an answer of what it is I did, so I can have the closure of knowing whether their dislike is justified or not. When there is nothing else I can do, I accept it. But why am I one of the people who is bothered by this?
Because I care.
I do not see it as weakness to worry about what others think. It is simply because I do not want to hurt anyone. I do not want to offend anyone. I do not want to hinder the chance at friendship with someone unless it is necessary. So when someone does not like me for no apparent reason, yes, it bothers me. There is nothing wrong with it. It is simply because I care. I have a heart, I have a soul, and I use it. I am okay with that. For those friends out there, who do not understand why I care so much, I say to you, what if I didn't care so much? What if when you came to me with a problem, I said, "Get over it," or "I don't care." What if when you needed me most I walked away? Then would it matter to you that I don't care what other people think about me? I care. At times, too much, but never, NEVER too little. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. So yes, friend, it bothers me that you didn't like me at first. But if you cannot remember why, then I will get over it. As long as you like me now. Just because, I care.