In high school, one of the things people would often tell me was that they were impressed by how I didn’t seem to care what other people thought. They expressed their admiration at my ability to embrace myself and not measure my worth based on other people’s opinions.
Little did they know that I was living a lie.
For four years, I cared deeply about what other people thought; in fact, the opinions of others shaped the way I dressed and acted. And most unfortunately, it also shaped the way I valued myself.
Now, the reason people thought I didn’t care about anyone’s opinion is because that’s exactly what I wanted them to think. I dressed and talked and acted as if I didn’t give a damn about what others thought of me. But underneath this icy facade, I was terrified. Terrified that people would think of me negatively, terrified that someone would see through this act, terrified that all my hard work would go to waste. And so to counter that fear, I tried even harder to keep up the act.
But then I realized that I valued myself based on this; based on what I thought other people thought of me. When a girl called me annoying, I spent two years believing that I was indeed annoying. When people didn’t laugh at a joke, I decided that it must be because I wasn’t funny. And so on.
Eventually, I had such a terrible image of myself that I stopped talking because I didn’t think my opinion mattered, and I thought I could only pass as average with makeup on, and I hid myself under sunglasses and leather jackets because I didn’t want anyone to see how ugly, awful, selfish a person I was.
And yet all the while, I made sure people thought that I was a bad-ass bitch who didn’t give a damn what other people thought.