Why are you so scared of everyone?

Dearest readers,

Today I will open with a short and honest phrase: people scare me. Okay, maybe that sounds a bit strong but it is after much reflection that I say this. I know it is irrational. I know that everyone isn't going to be angry and shout and tell me off like a child. I know that not a bad person and I know I don't mistakes constantly. But this is what I see and increasingly how I have felt and also a reflection that this actually underpins quite a bit of how I make sense of some things. 

I think part of the reason why people scare me is because people confuse me. I find people's intentions confuse me, people confuse me as I take them at face value and what they present to me at that time. I often find from the confusion I sometimes misread or come to the "incorrect" conclusion (or more to the point, I interpret in the way that was not intended). This doesn't always happen, but enough for me to notice and take note of. One conclusion I often come to is one of aggression or anger. I feel like I am going to told I am doing something wrong and that seed is well and truly planted in my head. This could have been started at the primary school I despised, where my main memory is the noise, shouting, screaming and aggression of the teachers, and one teacher in particular who looked and acted like the trunchbull out of Matilda (I'm being serious here). A bully in the truest sense of the word. Aggression and unpredictability is something else I find really hard: when people snap from one thing to another, especially in school with teachers I found this. I also held teachers up to a very high standard, for as role models surely they should. This woman who was like trunchbull - she could just switch to some happy, smiley woman in a moment's notice and this really confused me. When I get angry, it takes me a while to calm down so how can you just act? And don't you carry any emotional guilt of how you make others feel? When someone shouts at me in an angry manner, I end up carrying their emotional load of anger too as well as my own fear. A mixture of not knowing teachers put on a front, not knowing where I stood with the unpredictability of the change in emotions and the load I ended up carrying frazzled me. No wonder I used to come home every day after school and explode and implode simutaneously. It was the only way I could cope. Funnily enough at secondary school where teachers didn't scream as much, this stopped... hmmm. I took all the shouting and screaming very personally, even it was at the class. I still have the memory of this trunchbull woman setting us homework and after collecting in next week calling us back in over lunch and literally throwing it all at us and screaming that it wasn't good enough. We were in year 4 (age 8-9 for international readers). I'm not quite sure what she was expecting from 9 year olds to be honest, but chucking work at people and screaming is not merited. This was in 2000. My sister also had the misfortune of this woman and I won't repeat the stories I have heard from her. My sister is 19, this is all in the not too distant past. 

I think this is one of a few experiences that has tainted my view of teachers (sadly). It's a real shame as I do think this behaviour has had a lasting impact and has reinforced the confusion I have experienced. 

Another reason why people scare me I think is partially down to the anxiety I experience on a day to day basis. Bad experiences reinforce the anxiety and you end up in a vicious circle. When you are anxious, it very hard to imagine things otherwise. It's like my brain is lying to me and anxiety is telling me something else, when I know quite a bit of the time that is not true. I have to admit, I have lived with being anxious so long now it does feel sort of normal, and knowing the difference between being worried (2/10) and anxious (at least a 7/10) is quite profound, even if I am told otherwise! When anxiety is in full swing, the irrational becomes valid, if still illogical, and it becomes hard to make sense of the world. Things that I could normally handle become very challenging: insurmountable and drowning at the same time. The feeling of being frozen to the floor and not knowing what to say, what to do and everything being very overwhelming. Everything feels out of reach and unobtainable. I feel like a pressure cooker.

I think the final thing that is worth mentioning is the fear of offending people. I seem to have a knack of sometimes saying things that are not meant to be offensive, but might end up being so. I'm also super sensitive as mentioned above so it's a bit of a catch 22 and makes me feel a bit of a hypocrite to be honest. I sometimes don't know what I've done to merit being 'offensive' and people won't tell me in a way that isn't "why didn't you see that"... um, well I didn't? I wouldn't have done it otherwise. I often do not feel comfortable when first meeting someone for the first time or if someone randomly entrails me in conversation, to be point that I will run and hide, normally I like to watch or observe so I can see how I can fit in and to reduce my fear. But however helpful this may be, there are still times I really don't feel comfortable or really put on the spot. This doesn't just happen in person: online is just as bad. I'm always double checking what I say and how it is said, and it increases by x100 if someone snaps back - or I see someone as snapping back or being defensive, even if they are not. It's almost as if there's a calmer setting (note the comparative) and a very anxious setting with nothing in between, just a rapid jump up. Currently I'm not using twitter as much as I'm finding it just too anxiety provoking and 140 characters really does squeeze what you say to be really direct and can squeeze things out of context. Doesn't mean I won't use it more in the future, September's always a bit full on. Equally, checking my emails when I have a response to something I've asked: have I caused offence? Did I say anything wrong?! I'm always thinking I did at the moment and I'm manually having to tell myself the world is not out to get me, but rather most people are nice and I will not always be offensive or 'off'.

Don't get me wrong, I have good days and bad days, I just seem to be in a 'worse' phase at the moment. But this is always there to some degree and it does get in the way. Yet in spite of me being scared, I do actually like people when I'm not mid-panic or confused and studying people is fascinating. I just wish that people knew the rational behind some of the things that I experience (above) and that just because you cannot see it, it's still there. Some people do feel OK to talk very openly about their struggles, however I'm not someone that can do that, verbally or on social media. It's somewhat easier through a piece of prose like this as I have time to reflect and make sense of it and not be put on the spot. I'm a reflector, not a jump in and tell you immediately person and that is just part of who I am. We are not all reflectors, neither all immediate responders. Therefore I will make as far as I can a space that works best for me.



Current popular reads

The ebb and flow of information: a privilege of access? Or just how the world works?

Church language - is it jargon?

Are we willing?

Why have you got worse?

Four reasons why we are not all "a little autistic"

That large black raincloud

Why having a masters does not qualify me as an expert