Why Am I Not Good With People?

Is it only me or is it totally exhausting talking to people, especially people you sort of know?

Take me at work, for example. When I talk to people at work, I feel this immense self-imposed pressure to fit in. I feel like I need to pretend like I care about what is being said, even though in actuality, I don’t give a hootenanny. I tell myself, I need to endure this in the name of looking like I belong, so I strap on a smile and nod, faking interest.


If I think about it, I think I do this because I have this nerve-racking belief that, without total inhibition, I might compulsively and quite involuntarily act weird, much like having Tourettes for social awkwardness. I could, at any given moment during a conversation, spasm into an awkward behavior, which if and when it happens, I’m certain I’ll melt and die right at the spot from the pure, hot shame of it.


Terrified by the very possibility of death by mortification, I merge my personality with those of others I’m with so that I would pass for “normal” when I have to socialize. Like Mystique in X-Men, I strive to do away with my awkward-blue skin, my alien-yellow eyes, morph into the background among normal human beings. Of course, Mystique does it physically, and I do it with my personality.


So the result of this personality shapeshifting is me spending a lot of energy trying to restrain my authentic self from rearing it’s awkward head, and putting my concentration on looking normal.

It’s so damn exhausting, so most times, I prefer to remain alone at work. But when I do have to socialize, my objective is to disappear.


So why do I get so exhausted?

Obviously, I exhaust myself since I exert enormous amount of energy trying to belong, fit in, and go along with the crowd.

The mental process of constructing the appearance of normalcy is draining: I have to first catch how people think, extract how they want me to respond, and then design a response that is non-offensive, politically correct, gender neutral, non-racial or insulting in anyway.

I have to hold back my true self, because my true self has clear, possibly offensive opinions. My true self can be extremely assertive, even borderline aggressive, which can create awkward situations that leave people silently wondering, “Why is she so mad?” 

Anyway, the point is that I feel that I need to modify my thoughts and my opinions so that it would be more socially acceptable, and make it “bland” enough so that it would be more digestible than it’s raw form.

Over the years, I came up with an extremely complex formula for fitting in:

  1. I check each word and action that comes out of me (I call it, “Analysis”)
  2. Search through the bank of appropriate behaviors I memorized for my next move (“Hypothesis”)
  3. Check to see if I’m making anyone uncomfortable in any way (“Observation & Testing”)
  4. Make my conclusion



And I do all this in microseconds.

So yes, I’m frickin’ exhausted!


Enough is enough

I’m tired of being tired. I needed to get to the bottom of this.

Why is it that I feel pressured to belong? And why am I constantly afraid that I’ll make social blunders and embarrass myself?

I think it all comes down to proving wrong an irrational suspicion I have about myself: that my true nature is actually... repulsive. So much so that I could never, ever belong anywhere with anyone. I don’t know where this suspicion came from. It’s not like I had a bad childhood where I was bullied and people hated on me and said I was repulsive. No, it just appeared one day in the background of my mind, sneakily stinking up the place first ever so faintly. 

Wherever this idea of myself came from, the fear is real. I’m actually afraid that, if I were to dig a tunnel down to the very core of my psyche and were to face myself, I’ll find a castout that much resembles Smeagol the Gollum, eyes wide full of fear, echoing over and over again, “we knows we don’t belongs, my preciousssss… we thinks people will not like ussssss.”


Afraid that the gollum is right, I exert a massive amount of energy pretending that I actually do belong: I feign interest when there is none, pretend to care even though I actually don’t, and dilute my opinion as blandly as I can, all in the name of fitting in. 

It’s quite debilitating, especially in social settings.


It all stems from a belief in separateness

I needed to find out how I could vanquish this belief or at least make peace with it. For this to happen, I needed to drag out the Gollum by its tattered underpants and have a honest, no-bullshit conversation with it. 

During the conversation, the Gollum and I bawled together, threw things at each other, hugged and cried, went into a hissing fit, and then finally reached an epiphany.  

I realized that it was rooted in a deeper, more spiritual level. The core, spiritual belief the issue was springing from was the idea of separateness.  Yes, the feeling of not belonging was springing from my belief in separateness.


Let me explain

Most people walk around with the belief that we are separate and alone.

We believe that there is an entity apart from us called God who is looking down at us in a judgmental frown from high above, ready to strike us with unimaginable misfortune if we stray from a certain moral code.


We also walk around believing that we are separate from our spiritual selves, our higher selves. In practical terms, this means that rather than relying on our intuition to sense the path of ease and grace, we solely rely on our fear-filled, risk-averse minds to “logically” figure out the path that is most safe. Just as a four year old on his first day of preschool becomes anxious and cries when he suddenly realizes he is in a strange place without his mom to protect him, our minds become unstable when cut off from our higher selves. Without the guidance of our higher selves, the future is always threatening and precarious, and we always feel so damn shaky.     

Not only do we believe that we are separate from God and from our higher selves, we also believe that we are separate from each other. We walk around with a “them vs. me” mentality: I need to protect my friends and family from “them,” I need to protect myself from “them,” I need to shield my children from “them,” etc.

My social anxiety was coming from the idea of separation from “them.”


But who is the “them” in our minds? 

Think about it. Who are the “them” our mind is referring to? People out there? If so, which people, and where?

You have to understand, when our mind says “them,” it is clumping every human being as ONE, and separating my little ol’ self as the “other.” It’s the mass versus me, the world against me sentiment.

But if we were to see everything clearly and call the bullcrap our mind is playing on us, we would see that “them” is a mind constructed idea of the “others.”

There is no true “them.”

The truth is, in our physical reality, there are individuals like you and me who all think the other is part of “them,” that they themselves are the odd one out. To everyone else, you are clumped into this group called “others” as well.


The idea of “them” is one that is dangerous because it infers that, in the worst case scenario, you over there could possibly turn out to be an enemy. So what ends up happening is, everyone treats everyone else as either an enemy one must protect oneself from, or a friend to conjoin their powers with.

If we’re always trying to fit in with “them”...

… but none of us considers ourselves part of “them”...

… then who are the “them?”...

... And who are we really trying to belong to?

So in this sense, “them” is an illusion. In this sense, the vague sense of “others” is an illusion.

Because really, no matter how it feels like in our minds, we have much more in common than we are different.


So how does it all relate back to me?

Because I saw the separation between others and me, I believed that it was “them” against me. And in order to survive, I needed to feel like I belonged with “them.” Them, a clump of group that share an inherent bond exclusive to me. I needed to fit in with “them.” If I didn’t want to feel lonely anymore, I needed to fit in.

And because I was trying to fit in with others, I also feared the possibility of not being able to.

My fear was so strong and so real that my mind had reasoned that there was a reason I wouldn’t be able to…  and irrationally concluded that somehow I was repulsive. Everyone would find out that I am, so I needed to be on the defensive constantly.

So now I'm working on viewing the world without separation. No "them" and "me." Just all me.