This weekend brought out just how incredibly self-conscious I am. I constantly read judgement onto other people. I take more than instant to make a decision and think that others must be becoming impatient with me. I make coffee and worry that my roommates are going to judge me for having more than one cup a day. And – most stress-inducing – every single frickin’ time I went to eat over this weekend, I worried that my roommates were going to disapprove of me for having food. My own internal critic threw out a dozen of potential criticisms. “You’re eating too much,” “you’re eating too early,” “you’re eating the wrong thing,” and “why are you eating again? haven’t you already eaten today?”
I worry too much about having every single fricking person’s approval. Because my internal critic lies to me and says that if even just one person does not approve of what I am doing, then it must mean that what I am doing is wrong. Somehow. I mean, sometimes I’m able to discount certain people’s opinions, but for the most part, I give away my judgment and my power to others, allowing their own feelings to sway how confident I am in what I’m doing. I don’t really go out and do things because I think others want me to, but I will not do something because I think somebody else might judge me for it. I default to the path of least resistance. The option where I am the least noticeable. The action where I am least likely to get criticized.
Because, in my experience, criticism flat-out hurts.
It has not been my actions that have gotten criticized. It has been me. I’m used to being told not that there was an issue with what I have done but that there is something wrong with myself. “Your sports team didn’t do as well as they could have because you weren’t aggressive enough.” “Your sister is acting out of control because you were too lenient with her.” “You’re not doing well in math – so what’s wrong with you that you’re not understanding this?” “Why can’t you just let go of the past?” “What’s going on in you that you still have an eating disorder?” And then my eating disorder takes all this and makes it about something tangible, something I can point to about me that is fixable, changeable. “Your parents aren’t proud of you because you’re not beautiful enough.” “If you were skinnier, more boys would like you.” “You’re unhappy because you’re not skinny enough.” “If you got all A’s, you’d be less worried about life.” “You’re not overachieving enough. That’s why you’re still dissatisfied with yourself.” Thin enough, stick-figured enough, cellulite-free enough, so damn perfect that I’m on my way to dying enough – all of these become synonymous with “good enough” in my head. Because I have learned that a lack in performance points to a default in me. This is what I have internalized. And this is why I am scared shitless of ever being perceived as having done something wrong.
Rationally, I know that other people probably aren’t really noticing what I’m doing. That for the most part, other people are too much concerned with their own stuff to pay much attention or care too much about mine. And while I know that feelings aren’t facts, it still feels as if I am under constant observation. That at any moment, I must be ready to justify my actions and decisions. Because that’s how it was – and to a certain extent still is – why my parents. So I guess some part of me just expects the rest of the world to be that way, too. I mean, there is some truth to it. I have had to justify myself to colleges in telling them why they should expect me. I will have to hold myself up and shine as favorable a light as I can on my life in applying to vet school. I will have to be acceptable to future employers in order to get a job. And I still carry around a good deal of that Catholic guilt that tells me that in the end, I will have to justify myself before God and defend myself in the hopes of being good enough to spend eternity with Him. I know that doesn’t fit with the concept of a loving savior who doesn’t freaking care how many times you fail as long as you reach back out to him, who doesn’t expect the world to be good enough and steps in to be enough for them, but still. That constant nagging is there. No matter where I go, it seems that there’s always somebody waiting around the corner to judge me and tell me whether I am good enough.
So, I live under the constant trial of my own head. That inner judge is always with me. And it’s terrifying and stressful and frustrating, this living life under constant observation. It makes me so self-conscious, this perpetual scrutiny.