For most of my life I have been pretty confident about who I am. About the fact that I know myself. Sure, some of what I thought I knew was me projecting what I wanted to be. And part of it was me projecting what I thought you wanted me to be. But nonetheless, the core was pretty legitimate. The me I know now is not the same me I knew when I was eight or eighteen, but that’s because I have changed and evolved as humans are wont to do. But one fact still remains.
I am afraid of you. I was afraid of you when I was eight and when I was eighteen and now, just under twenty-eight, I’m still afraid of you. The “you” I’m referring to isn’t someone specific. I don’t have nightmares about the killers in horror movies (mostly because I haven’t watched a horror movie in years) or of someone chasing me, it’s nothing like that. The “you” I’m referring to is the general you, as in everyone. Like, you, person reading this, I am afraid of you. And the person sitting next to you in the library and your next door neighbor and your boss and the barista that made your coffee this morning.
Before you reconsider the crazy lady typing this post, hear me out. When I’m trying to make a left hand turn and there are cars behind me, I worry that I’m making them angry when my cautious nature doesn’t take the turn when they might have. I picture them pounding their fist on their steering wheel and cursing. I second guess my actions based on the theoretical anger of a person in a car behind me that I will probably never see.
So, sometimes you do see them and they’re angry. That has happened. Not to me directly, but to someone I was with. Said crazy other driver followed us into Wal-Mart and threatened to cut my friend’s throat if he ever took his parking spot again. Perhaps this experience scarred me.
Sometimes if I go through the drive-thru I wonder if the employees are judging me for being too lazy to actually walk inside. And when I have specific requests about what should go in my latte, I just generally assume that the barista hopes that I never visit during her shift again. I know very little about pop culture and haven’t seen very many movies. But if someone’s trying to talk to me about something and on reference three I still don’t understand, I just pretend I do so they won’t think I have literally been living under a rock.
I have friends with very different political and religious beliefs. They’re all mashed up on my Facebook Stalker Feed which suffers from severe bi-polar disorder. And I try to walk this line with my own Facebook posts as to not overtly offend anyone. I’m not afraid of my opinions, but I never wish to hurt the heart of someone else with intention.
I guess, what it boils down to, is that I try to figure out what you’re thinking. Why you’re thinking it. What I did to cause you to think it. Because I guess, what I’m really afraid of isn’t you, per se, but your approval or lack thereof. I think we all want approval. We want someone to acknowledge that what we’re doing, saying, wearing, thinking is okay. And I want you to think that me being cautious before I make that left hand turn is responsible rather than thinking I’m the worst driver ever.
There are some people who are extremely self-assured or extremely oblivious. And maybe you’re reading this thinking I must be extremely insecure or neurotic or paranoid or a total narcissist for thinking other people even notice me that much. Fair enough, maybe I’m all of those things. But I’m also honest and you have to take the good with the bad, right?
But if, perhaps, you’re reading this and relating a bit, you should know that I approve of you. I approve of your fear. Not that I think we shouldn’t try to conquer it. We should. Screw that driver behind you, you’re protecting your life and possibly one of the most expensive things you own – your car. That driver can wait. But know that you’re not alone thinking all those things you think. I think most of them too.