I know what you’re thinking- well, that’s a lie, I don’t because I’m not psychic. But, you may be thinking what a morbidly sinister title and I guess it is, but it is fitting for how I feel about this topic.
Popularity is the biggest son of a bitch I know, and I have known enough of those in my time to be able to make such a bold claim, and yes you would be right in thinking that I say that because I have never been popular. Never. Not even when I was a child. Last night, with a heavy heart and reasons unknown, I started to remember an incident that I spent a long portion of my childhood burying and it goes a little something like this…
-God I can’t even believe I am about to type this-
I don’t remember how old I was exactly, maybe six, and we had a games lesson. This girl and I had to pick up items from a basket and run across the room and deposit them into another basket. The teacher encouraged the children to cheer for their favourite student which they did… except they were all cheering one name and you guessed it; it was not mine.
The adult in me used to think big deal, means nothing. But lately, I have been seriously considering the possibility that that incident stayed with me for a reason; because it sucked, first and foremost, but also, it ignited in me this fear of losing and paranoia of not being liked. This was extreme fear by the way, we are talking to the point where I hated games / physical education lessons and competitions.
I have never been bowling, or taken swimming lessons and I sometimes panic about something as simple as a game of cards. Because all these things make me feel exposed. I am sure that psychology would have a lot to say about this matter. But I think the layman’s version is; I am worried about being laughed at and not being accepted.
Popularity and self-esteem go hand in hand, and because I never had the latter, this made it almost impossible to achieve the former. As a child, this meant that I had no friends growing up and when I tried to dismiss this piece of information as something I imagined, I came across an old note my mother wrote to one of my teachers on my report card- under Parents’ Comments; she is always alone, I am worried she has no friends.
I cannot even begin to tell you how chilling it is to read something like that about yourself. In many ways, I wanted to grab hold of the child in me and squeeze her to death with reassurance… of course she wont listen now because the damage has been done. Anyway…
I grew up accepting my own quirks when no one else did and I think that times have changed enough whereby now, being a loner is often viewed as being intelligent and even something cooler than it actually is- I guess we have movies and songs to thank for that. I honestly thought that the days of worrying about my popularity, or the lack of it, for that matter were well and truly gone…
But, every now and then, they tend to resurface thus costing me precious hours of peace. I don’t give a monkeys about being liked so popularity means squat, but… remember how I said it goes hand in hand with confidence? That’s where things get tricky for me because I actually do care about being confident because confidence is not only an attractive quality, it is also heavily sought after in every avenue of life.
I realised this when I was a child and made no friends because of it, when I was a student and sucked at verbal presentations because of it- thus scoring the least marks despite putting in the most amount of work, and when I tried to form any kind of personal relationship and never got far because of the hindrance of worry and panic I carried with me constantly.
If you are still puzzled as to why this affects me so much, then I have no l response other than; it just does. As for why it is resurfacing more prominently of late, then I guess now that I have been adulting for a while, now that I am in the real world, I feel the extent to which lack of confidence can get used against you though you cannot help it. I see first hand how the popular and confident make it far in life whereas it takes nervous simpletons like us twice as long to be half as good and that’s not cool.
It is not fair- I sat on that statement for years in the interest of not sounding childish and bitter, but it is out there now and I don’t care.
You can always get a qualification to increase your knowledge, but believe me when I tell you that no amount of workshops or breathing techniques will magically change you into a more confident being.
This rant (which I threw out there for the mere purposes of getting it off my chest and not as a plea for instant fixing advice) was sponsored (not actually) by my bed, my dark room and overly expensive ice-cream.
Thank you for reading.