I met with a group of strangers yesterday evening. Well, they all knew each other while I was the new kid in town.
This has always been one of my worst nightmares. I’ve had a complete lack of self-confidence when it comes to meeting new people. I have so many fears. I’ll make a fool of myself. They won’t like me. I’ll say the wrong thing. I’ll offend them. They’ll think I’m stupid. They’ll think I’m weird. And so on.
Those fears would lead me to avoid such situations completely if I could, leading to greater isolation which would in itself feed my fear. Or where I had no choice but to meet people, for example to earn a living, I would say the bare minimum for the sake of politeness. But of course this could be interpreted in any number of ways by others, many of them negative.
I would say, and I still do, that it takes me a long time to trust people. There’s some truth in that. But the biggest factor, which I’m only now coming to realise, is that it takes me a long time to trust myself with others.
And that’s part of a bigger truth. That I have never fully trusted myself at all. I’ve achieved a lot of good, even great, things in my life. I’ve had a positive impact on many people. But I’ve always focused on the times I’ve stumbled. To err is human, but I’ve defined myself by my errors. To forgive is divine, but I’ve been unable to forgive myself for my mistakes.
Those fears I listed earlier:
I’ll make a fool of myself. (I’m a fool)
They won’t like me. (I’m unlikeable)
I’ll say the wrong thing. (I’m wrong)
I’ll offend them. (I’m offensive)
They’ll think I’m stupid. (I’m stupid)
They’ll think I’m weird. (I’m weird)
And so on.
I’ve been projecting my false, negative view of myself onto everyone I interact with. No wonder I’ve struggled! I need to challenge the lies and replace them with truths that I can believe and trust.
I’m a fool? No, I’m intelligent.
I’m unlikeable? No, I’m lovable, and I am loved.
I’m wrong? Maybe. We’re all wrong sometimes, but that’s ok.
I’m offensive? No. I’m kind and considerate with good intentions. If I unintentionally cause offence, I can apologise and learn.
I’m stupid? No. Remember? I’m intelligent.
I’m weird? No. I’m unique and valuable.
I met with a group of strangers yesterday evening. I was nervous but decided to trust myself. I smiled and talked and joked with them. I had a long, fascinating, deep conversation with one of them. And when, three hours later I said I had to go, I heard a couple of disappointed groans before we agreed to see each other again soon.
I made some friends yesterday evening.