It’s refusing to eat in front of strangers — or even in front of friends — because you worry they’re judging what you’re eating, how much you’re eating or even that you’re eating in the first place. And it’s refraining from eating when no one else is — even if you haven’t eaten all day — because you fear they’ll think you’re impolite. It’s wondering if your roommates suspect why they never see you in the kitchen, then worrying that they judge you for eating in private.
It’s listening rather than speaking in large groups, speaking only with your expressions because you genuinely believe you are unworthy of contributing to the conversation. And it’s feeling your friends’ eyes pierce through you as you finally speak, warmth spreading to your cheeks as you convince yourself you’ve annoyed everyone in your company.
It’s not noticing the genuine smiles in your friends’ responses, the happiness you bring to others’ lives. It’s misconstruing non-judgmental kindness as irritation with your rare self-expression.
It’s feeling anxious for hours after someone unfollows you on social media. It’s desperately attempting to convince yourself they no longer belong in your life and that maybe their decision had nothing to do with you, but instead, arriving at the erroneous conclusion that you’re annoying and completely unworthy of human connection.