Part 11 of 30
My Fragile Self-Esteem
So far I’ve clearly expressed the truth that my self-esteem is fragile and getting worse. The way it feels inside is … lots of jitters. I'm anxious all the time, ducking down so no one notices me, retreating to the back of the room, preferably the coat closet or somewhere to escape the staring eyes of others, always tempted to leave early or not show up at all.
Plus, I'm terrified someone might call attention to me, as in, “What was that strange thing you said the other day about ___?” Everyone turns to hear me, they’re smiling a bit, I break out in a sweat, I stumble out a few words before trembling like a snare drum, then end up throwing my apron over my head and running screaming from the room. The biggest thing I wonder about is why I'm wearing an apron.
I think I need a working buddy system, like on game shows where I get some lifelines before I'm completely booted out. Of course the problem with that is social settings aren’t game shows, which everyone knows is a game and they’re rooting for you. This is real life, and -- not to get too anxious -- you can’t really pause social settings to claim a lifeline without blowing yourself out of the water. Instant guilt.
So whatever lifelines I have need to be spent more surreptitiously. Like if I'm meeting someone, the conversation is extremely awkward -- my fears sabotage me as the rule, not the exception. I squint my eyes at a friend and that means, “I want to use a lifeline, meet me in the kitchen.” Where he chastises me for using a lifeline in the first five minutes. Then says, “You’re as good as anyone, stop worrying about wasting the world’s resources, you didn’t ask to be born.”
The friend adds, “If you’re paying attention to the conversation and not just your own insecurities, you’ll notice that the things others are saying aren’t exactly pearls of wisdom, but basic observations, ‘It’s hot at work,' 'The movie was bad,' and 'No, it’s not too hot in here.'" Even though I'm sweating through my underwear and telling myself I shouldn't feel sorry to be alive.
Anyway, I used up my last lifeline, all very regrettable. Then I was on the verge of making a scene and my friend saw my anxiety. I truly am a worm, so he accompanied me to the kitchen again:
“You’re now in negative lifelines, dude, this can’t go on. If you’re not happy, leave. If your self-esteem is that far in the toilet, you should probably avoid coming to parties. Yes, it’s going to look awkward if you get your coat from the bedroom already. What you should do is leave, then come back the next day and say you forgot it."
That’s pretty good advice, and imagine that, a bonus lifeline came through right when I needed it. I’m lucky like that.