lauantai 21. syyskuuta 2013

Day 319: Who am I with others?


A little while ago after some kind of a social situation I asked myself: is there anyone I would be completely relaxed with? In other words, is there any person in the company of whom I would be completely “myself”, as I would be alone at home with no one watching?

I answered no, and it shocked me.

I realized that no matter who I am with, I am always a little bit tense. There's always something about me that I am trying to hide from my company, which of course varies from person to person, group to group. Be it big or small, there is fear in me wherever I go.

I have been socially very withdrawn and defensive ever since I got bullied in school starting from the age of 9. I got depressed and kept to myself, and I rarely actively tried to get myself any friends because I was so afraid of rejection and abandonment. I only had friends who had approached me first. This tendency of never approaching people and always waiting for someone else to make the “first move” (so that I would be certain that the person is not attacking me) continued on to my adult years and resulted in a solitary and insecure life that I would not want to return to.

I started actively moving myself out of this behavioral pattern at the beginning of 2012, about 8 months before I started to walk my process in the form of writing this daily journal. I had realized that I cannot continue this way, waiting around for others to “pull me in”, and so I took small “leaps of faith” in situations where I was so heavily emotionally burdened that without me approaching another person and dealing with things I would have collapsed. I opened conversations. I shared my feelings. I showed my interest. Later on I have continued to walk myself out of my social fears with more precision, targeting specific points of resistance.

The process still continues, and at the moment I'm at a very interesting spot in my life considering this process of de-assembling my introversion. I've just started studying in university, where I meet new people every day. I also work as a bartender, which is a position where I get to meet and discuss with all kinds of people – including the ones I disagree with on many things and would never associate myself with! I am utilizing these social environments for my growth, but I feel like I could be doing it more actively, more specifically. And that's why I'm writing here right now.

I realized that this process of walking myself out of my social fears is not structured well at all. The realization I mentioned at the beginning of this post provides one clear solution model: when you meet people and you feel tense, make a mental note of it: stop and breathe in the moment and ask yourself what is going on, why there is a tension, what am I afraid of, what kind of a mask am I wearing, what is the role I'm pulling, what do I hope to gain? The answers are usually very simple and self-evident once I give myself the chance to look at myself by stopping and no longer just “going with it”.

This may require me to go through this mapping with every single person I meet. With some there might be a generalized pattern that applies to many individuals, but for example with family members and long-time friends there's such a long and unique history of interaction that no general patterns necessarily apply. I've been avoiding doing this in precision because it has felt so burdensome and “big”, but I see that now (as I am not going through a bigger crisis) I have a great chance to allow myself to focus on this specific point (social fears, desires and tensions – who am I with others), which I will in time be “done” with, because all it takes is time and consistency. The shit I've compiled within myself is not infinite, as are not the people I interact with.


I commit myself to write about who I am in the presence of specific people or groups and to write myself clear directions on how to change my behavior, and I commit myself to share in public what I can without violating anyone's privacy (including mine).

I commit myself to write down what I face of myself in social situations, even if it's just a few words, because a small note can be expanded later in more specific writing.

I commit myself to start walking these social points in the order that they occur – meaning I start with the points that I notice when I interact with other people today.

I commit myself to be patient with every point as a single aspect to my social fears can be incredibly vast and require several days, weeks, months or even years of writing and corrective action to be “done”.

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