Feeling Awkward and Judged

Throughout middle school and high school, I had a constant fear that everyone, even my closest friends, were always judging me and didn’t actually like me for who I was—that they were only friends with me because we were in the same “clique”. I second guessed all of my social interactions with them and analyzed over and over again in my mind what they really meant by what they said. If they forgot to call or text me back I would take that as them showing that they didn’t actually like me. I would even find myself doing things I didn’t normally do so that I would fit in better with them so I could ensure that they liked me. Nobody knew I felt this way, because I was friends with a bigger group of people so I didn’t really feel extremely close to any one person that I could have told this to. I also didn’t think they would take me seriously or they would think I just wanted attention.
When I got to the next stage of my life, which for me was college, I was able to make new friends. I became very close with my roommate and we were able to bond about being insecure and self-conscious about making new friends on such a big college campus. The two of us became very close with another girl our second semester of our first year. She had also been very shy and self-conscious her first semester at school and hadn’t made any really close friends. The three of us were able to bond about this, and as we became closer and closer friends, we all became more confident in our social interactions.
For me, what helped me the most was learning that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Bonding with my roommate about our sometimes “awkwardness” in social interactions actually ended up making us both more confident. Instead of thinking about it as a personal flaw, that I was the only one who was this awkward or self-conscious, I thought about it as a thing that people go through sometimes. Just having one or two really close friends that I can completely be myself with, knowing they will never judge me, has made me so much more confident in making other friends and really believing that they like me for who I am. It has also made me realize what I really value and look for in a friend—someone who accepts me for who I am and that I can be open with, even about things that might seem embarrassing.
I sincerely wish that I could go back in time and tell my high school self that it was going to be okay and to ignore all the pressure I put on myself to be “likeable” to other people. Looking back now it even seems like if I had been myself more in high school, I would have made better friends, because in my experience in college I have been more genuinely myself and have made my best friends that I will be close with for the rest of my life.

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