First, as the fat one. Then, as the stuttering one. Followed by smart, the the snooty intellectual.
Whenever I tried to show that I was more than just an image in a box, I was made to feel like a traitor. Mostly by myself. I identified so much with these labels that I made them an unchanging, constant part of me. Unnecessarily.
And when I left primary school, and embarked on high school, all that had defined me previously was gone. I now had a chance to craft an entirely new identity, and be accepted for all that makes me ME.
But trust a bunch of teenagers going through puberty to knock you down, in order to bring themselves up. And while I was down, my anxiety was at its worst.
I hid. That’s how I escape my anxiety. That’s how I cope with the pressures of being a person in community or in relation to other people. And I still do.
I isolate myself because its not easy being rejected. It hurts. It breaks me; absolutely shatters my spirit. And I know that one day, I’ll be forced to deal with the crap that makes me so difficult to love and be loved. But for the next while, this is my path.
It’s not easy. The intense loneliness, the “hole in my chest”, the panic attacks…it tears away at me. Not to make myself a victim or anything (because it never helps), but social anxiety isnt just ‘being shy’. The downs are horrible.
But the ups? I sit in solitude, reading a book and walking in nature, and I know that I chose this path.
I chose to conceal my anxiety by concealing myself. And while it’s not the ideal path, it is mine.