Tuesday, October 29, 2013

They Love Me, They Love Me Not

One of the "symptoms" of cyclothymia that I experience often is the fear that people don't like me, or don't like me as much as others. I have a fear of being excluded - either intentionally or no, not being part of the group, or worse, being part of the group but still somehow being an outsider. I say that it's a "symptom" because I believe it is a product of my low confidence, and that my low confidence is fueled, at least in part, by my cyclothymia. While it's not a symptom used from diagnostic standpoint, I certainly find that it affects a lot of people with this, and similar, mental health conditions.

Despite that the role my confidence plays, I don't believe these fears aren't completely unfounded. I've had friends turn on me, both in small ways that I was able to let go of and (perhaps after a time) forgive, and, at least in one instance, in major ways that I know I will truly never be fully able to forgive. At least not enough to let the person back into my life. I've had people talk about me behind my back because they wanted another group - of whom I wasn't "cool enough" to be part of - to accept them. In college I had the "leader" of a group of friends turn on me out of jealousy, though jealousy of what I'm still not quite sure, and in doing so managed to poison the rest of the group against me and I basically lost my entire social group. I've had friends try to sabotage things for me, big and small. So there is some rational basis for being a bit on guard with people when it comes to rejection.

In addition to these specific instances, I've always just been different. I think part of it is my condition, and part of it just my generally personality, though it can be tough at times to decipher the two, particularly from the outside looking in. With the exception of my friends from gymnastics, I've never really fit into any group. I'm was never smart enough to be part of the "nerdy" group. I wasn't geeky enough to be part of the, well, geeks. I wasn't cool enough, nor am I now, to be part of the popular group. I am a complete mix of logic and creativity, social and extroverted yet in love with being inside my brain and heart.  I'm good at service types of tasks yet my mind constantly explores. Pretty much, I can't be categorized in the least bit. Other than perhaps in the "weird/quirky" group. Which I must say, I don't particularly mind, though at times one can feel a bit lost when they realize that they don't have a particular group, they just bounce along, peeking into this one, being part of that one for a day or a week and then, not feeling at home, ultimately back on their own mish-moshed path.

I offer up this information as a background to why I have this fear of rejection and why I may pick up nuances in people's words and actions, sometimes to a fault, that others may not. At times, this fear of rejection makes me want to hide aspects of myself. My love of vision, imagination, enchantment, mystery - they don't make me seem very normal and acceptable, at least not by the general public. But they inspire me. They are my motivation, my muses, and my passion and have kept me headed, at times without my knowledge, toward this path that I'm now on, helping others and hopefully one day building something big enough that I can truly make a difference in society. I couldn't be more grateful for these peculiar loves of mine.

So I have learned that I have to embrace my fear instead of shy away from it. I have learned to relish in my differences, at least much of the time. Instead of being afraid to explore my head, to share its contents, I need to write it out, and I seek out others who understand, and who can help me with this new venture, even if just by believing in me and sharing my passion in this journey.

I'm the first person to say, even thinking that you might be rejected sucks. But I must accept that everyone truly is a lesson. If nothing else, they teach you who to focus on, who to keep close, and who to let loose. I've also learned that everyone has a different role in my life. They may flow out, but always somehow come back in just at the perfect time. They may be there when I just really need a solid chat over coffee, but not be in my life day to day. They may be fun to grab a beer with but not to confide in. But most of all, I've learned to be true to myself. When I'm true to my natural self, I draw people into my life who appreciate that, who understand me, or who value me specifically for the fact that I'm different, even if they don't completely understand me. Truly, it's the only way for me to be happy. And as I slowly grow to understand this, it's become my mission to help others, specifically those with mental health conditions, to deal with and overcome these fears as well.

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