misconceptions.

You don’t drink alcohol, so you must be boring and don’t know how to have fun.
You don’t smoke or do drugs, so you must think you’re better than everyone.
You don’t talk much, so you must be arrogant.

We’ve all been there before. Maybe it was a bad first impression. Maybe it was one bad choice. No matter what we’ve said or done, I’ll bet at one point in time (at the very least), we’ve been judged. Some people don’t care and are completely comfortable with being their complete selves. On the other hand, others like myself take things to heart a little more.

I don’t drink alcohol, but that doesn’t mean I’ve never tried it before. I choose not to drink primarily for health reasons. I am also highly sensitive to alcohol so even if I have a little bit, I start to feel dizzy, my head hurts, and I don’t feel well. Also, I just can’t acquire the taste. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t know how to have fun and it doesn’t mean I judge people who DO drink! My friends drink all the time but that doesn’t change my perception of them. They’re responsible when they do drink and if any of them go past their limits, I’m happy to drive them home if it means they get there safely. Being around alcohol does not make me feel uncomfortable. Yes, sure…sometimes being the only one at the party who doesn’t drink makes it a little weird for me, but I always try to find a way to have fun regardless of the situation.

I have never experimented with a drug or ever smoked, but that doesn’t mean I think I’m better than everyone else. Just because I may be straight-edge doesn’t mean that I should be defined by that label. We all have the freedom of choice. I choose not to do drugs or smoke because it’s just my personal preference and that’s it. But never once, have I ever thought I was better than anyone else because of the choices I made.

I’m a very quiet person. Until you get to know me, it’s difficult to pull me out of my shell. I’ve asked my friends what their first impression of me was and they all said I came across as either arrogant or mean/rude. I may not talk a lot, but it doesn’t mean I have anything to say. The truth is that I struggle in social situations. I DO have lots to say, but I can’t get myself to say it. I’m an observer. I prefer watching people interact with each other than engage, which is something I’m trying hard to work on. This is probably the misconception about myself that gets to me the most because what I display on the outside is completely different from the person inside. When I’m with my close friends, I can be goofy, I can be witty, I can be the one who makes people laugh…but if you’re an acquaintance or I just met you, you’d never know that.

The point I’m trying to get at is that you should never judge a book by its cover. Get to know the person first. In one of my classes in college, I met this one girl and right off the bat, I didn’t like her. The worst part was that I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what it was that annoyed me so much. I never thought we would be friends. But as I got to know her, my perception of her began to change. By our senior year, we became pretty good friends!

One summer, a group of my friends from college came down to visit me right after I moved. There was an event in Los Angeles we were attending. During the second night of the event, there was an after party at this place called Jillian’s. I think this was the first time my friends really truly saw me come out of my shell. Typically in social settings, I like to blend in with everyone else and people usually forget I’m even there. But that night, for whatever reason, it was like I flipped this switch and I became this extremely outgoing person (and that was all without a drop of alcohol in my system). I was talking to people I had just met like I had known them for years. It was a completely different side of me. I have no idea what got into me, but all I remember is that I couldn’t remember the last time I had that much fun. Instead of being my usual uptight self, I let loose a little and had some fun.

My quietness will always be a part of my innate personality and it’s always going to be a part of who I am. But I think the more I challenge myself to be a little more outgoing and push myself outside of my comfort zone, I think it could benefit me in the long run. I will never do it to please people. I’ll never do it to win the acceptance of others in social settings. When you want change, you should do it because it’s what you want, not at the expense of others’ wants. For all my quiet/shy people out there wanting to become a little more outgoing, I encourage you to push yourself. Something I constantly have to remind myself is that people are not paying as close attention to what I say and do as much as I think they are. In psychology, this is called the spotlight effect. The spotlight effect is a phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are noticed more than they really are.

The last thing I have to say about this is, don’t ever let people’s misconceptions about you define your life. Do you and live your life. If people don’t have anything nice to say, pay no attention to them. This is your journey and do what makes you happy.

beautifuldarkmystery

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you are your own worst enemy.

Self-doubt. I’m sure at some point in our lives, we’ve all dealt with this. I am someone who’s been struggling with it for a while, and unfortunately, as I grow older, it only seems to be getting worse. The same thoughts flood my mind every single day…

Am I good enough?
Will I ever be successful?
What am I doing with my life?
What is my purpose?
Why isn’t there one thing I excel at?
I feel mediocre.
Sometimes, I wish to cease to exist.
Why can’t I just be outgoing like everyone else?
Why is it that things that come naturally for others, are challenges for me?

But I’m not here to make myself the victim or complain about how much I suck at life. I just wish I could get over this irrational fear of failure because that’s essentially what this is. I think I’ve always been afraid to admit it, but I do, in fact, have a fear of failing. As a result of that, my life has been affected in so many different ways. I’ve missed out on opportunities. It’s prevented me from moving forward in life. It’s stinted my growth as an individual…and just reading that makes me cringe.

I know that there’s no such thing as perfection, yet I’ve somehow convinced myself that I need to be perfect. If I don’t, I feel like a failure (not to sound dramatic, but I don’t really know how else to explain it). Life’s supposed to be about challenging yourself…going beyond your comfort zone. My problem is that I’ve become too comfortable in my comfort zone and I don’t like change. I like routine. When I see or hear the word challenge, I automatically think of failure. The only way to grow in life is to make mistakes. So why is this so difficult for me? How did this get to be so bad that I’ve now become the only person standing in the way of myself?

The only answer I can think of is my shyness. I hate being described as shy, but it’s true. I’m not the most outgoing person. I get embarrassed very easily. I care way too much about what people think of me. I’m always monitoring what I say and how I act around people. I always knew I was the quiet one, but as I grow older, it seems to stand out more. I notice that in group settings I don’t say a word. If I have an idea, I don’t share it, because I’m afraid of rejection. But as long as I blend in to the background, how am I supposed to get anywhere in life.

Sometimes I feel like my life’s one big catch 22. I don’t want to appear stupid so I don’t speak up, but then my quietness is sometimes misinterpreted, therefore giving people the wrong impression of me, which leads me back to the point of caring what others think about me. I’m getting a headache just thinking about all of this…

It’s easy for someone to say, “Well, just speak up. The worst thing someone can say is ‘no.'” But those who can relate to my situation know that this is no easy feat. To be completely honest, I think most of this is genetics. It stems from personality traits. I can’t think of a situation I’ve ever been in that would have “traumatized” me and made me change my behavior.

I have my moments here and there. Sometimes I surprise myself. But it still takes me twice as much effort to talk to a stranger than it does for someone who’s more outgoing or extroverted. It’s a constant tug-of-war between wanting to push myself beyond my comfort zone but not actually following through with it.

I am my own worst enemy. I look at a lot of people and see how charismatic they are. They are great public speakers, exceptional team players, and embody all the right leadership qualities. Sometimes I feel like as much as I want to be the leader sometimes, I’m always going to be the follower and that makes me sad because what does that say about myself? I don’t want to continue living life with this negative image of myself. It’s easy for people to say, “Well, if you don’t like where you are in life, do something about it.” Well, that’s the problem. I don’t know what to do or where to even begin. Sometimes I feel like there’s something really wrong with me because of these thoughts I have and how much they consume me. It literally affects my everyday life, and, like I said, the older I get, the more pronounced it becomes and the more I notice it (which is bad because then I just focus on it more).

Again, I’m not writing this for the sake of complaining and victimizing myself. My hope is for other people to read this and know they are not alone…because sadly, sometimes I feel like I’m alone and that no one can relate to what I’m going through. So if anyone out there is struggling with self-doubt, I’m right there with you. I know life’s not supposed to be easy, but sometimes, I feel like it’s harder than it needs to be (and it’s my fault for making it that way). I just want to get to a point in my life where I’m happy with myself, the self-doubt is not a magnified issue, and I can just life my life. But I know that the only way for that to happen is if I make a change.

-beautifuldarkmystery