Here they are.
~ Being alone around groups of teenagers makes me anxious.
I'm almost over this one, yet it's still hard. My mind plays tricks on me and makes me see the people who tormented me in school when I see teenagers. I used to have an intense fear response. That doesn't happen so much anymore now that I don't live near my old high school. When I'm near more than two or three high school age people, I tend to get quiet and try to go unnoticed.
~ I have low self esteem, no self confidence and feel inferior to everyone around me.
Oh boy, this is the big one I've been working on for years and years. I have good days and bad days with this. The thing is, if I'm having a great day, one stupid comment can bring it all down and all those positive feelings go down the tubes! If I'm all dressed up and feel beautiful, but someone tells me I would look so much prettier if I wore pink lipstick instead of red, ugh. That will ruin my confidence for the rest of the day. Remember, I spent years in school being told daily that I was ugly, flat chested, a freak, too small, and everything I wore was mocked by my peers. It is HARD for me to feel pretty even on a good day. It's also hard to express myself when I was bullied for showing any sort of emotion at all. I still go about life thinking my feelings DON'T matter, and I tell myself constantly that they DO.
~ I attack myself verbally if I make mistakes in front of others. I figure I might as well acknowledge my own error before someone else does.
I don't even touch this. It's been going on since high school. If I'm getting my medicine from the cupboard and I drop the pill bottle lid, I usually exclaim, "DAMMIT!" as I pick it up and slam the bottle down on the counter top. This comes from the times in school where I would trip, bump into things or drop things, and the kids who saw it would be like, "Haha, and look she acts like nothing happened. Stupid b****!" By acknowledging my own mistakes first, I feel like anyone who witnessed me screwing up will know that I know and leave me the hell alone. I still hate it when I bump into the doorknob or something as I'm leaving my dad's room, and my dad will comment on it. Then I have to turn around and say something snotty just to deflect my own embarrassment. I know, I know, I should talk to him about it, but it seems like such a stupid thing to bother with in the first place. It's my hangup, not his.
~ I don't take public embarrassment well.
This is pretty self explanatory. A lot of my bullying involved public humiliation. If I do something like fall down in front of people, my instinct is to lay there until they go away, or say I'm fine and run off to be alone even if I'm injured. I don't even like to make mistakes in front of my own family, and I've pretty much forbidden them from telling 'embarrassing' childhood stories about me to anybody. This one is also a real problem for me if I mess up in choir. I've actually cried after missing notes and said I was sorry for messing up the people next to me, which made THEM really uncomfortable. That was a real feedback loop MESS and it makes me cringe when I remember it.
~ Sometimes, I feel like everyone is judging everything I say and do.
I hate the feeling, I really, really hate it. I'm always editing myself, second guessing myself and trying to make sure what I write online is as clear as possible. This one really needles me if I think I've worded something in a way NOBODY can misinterpret, and somebody comes up offended anyway with an interpretation I never even thought of. Then I feel like once I've screwed up in front of certain people, that is all they'll see when they speak to me. That is all they'll remember about me. I'm just (mistake) and nothing else. This is especially true after I screwed up in my fandom. Now, I can't even be sure who is nice and who isn't when I join new communities or forums. I've atoned for the mistakes I made, but some people refuse to let it go and I'm still That Drama Queen Who F***ed Up to them. The anxiety is so bad that I've made up false IRL identities for forums just so people don't know who I really am. They can't laugh at me if they don't know it's me.
~ Confrontations of any sort terrify me.
Both online and offline, confrontations are the worst thing to deal with. I am working on this one, but it's not easy. My dad is pretty confrontational and he knows how to push my buttons. I don't think he does it on purpose, but now I will get snotty at him rather than go quiet and let whatever he says go. Sometimes he tells me how I should feel, and I've put up with that for thirty two years--now I tell him that "No, I'll feel how I want. You aren't the boss of my emotions!" Then he gets mad at me for what he perceives as 'backtalk' and we end up fighting. And it might be because I got mad because of something stupid like a gnat in my face or my computer running slow. Cripes, I get tired of being told my emotions are wrong!
~ I have trouble outright trusting anyone, and I'm very guarded around new people. There are some exceptions to this, but they are rare.
A lot of the bullies I dealt with started out pretending to be my friend. They let me get comfortable and POW, they turned from face to heel and backstabbed me. They mocked the secrets I told them. The same thing happened online when people from the Places That Shall Not Be Named joined my private forum and were sharing the information I posted there publicly. The fake blogs I used as IP collecting traps were only useful in finding these moles and banning them. However, the damage was done. It's rare for someone to come into my life and make me immediately comfortable. My choir's newest director, John, is one of those exceptions. I knew it when he didn't judge me after I told him my school choir story and instead told me he wants to help me heal.
~ I struggle to accept genuine compliments unless I know the person giving them.
This one is related to things that happened in school. Every achievement I made was a source of ridicule. Nothing I did well received any positive feedback from my peers. I started believing them instead of my teachers. Majority rules, right? I believed any awards or certificates I got were given out of pity and not because I actually did something outstanding. The problem stuck with me and I'm slowly working through it.
~ I'm still struggling with the mentality that everything I do has to be so perfect that nobody will have anything negative to say about it. The moment somebody comes out of the woodwork and points out the flaws in something I worked hard on, I go from loving it to thinking it's terrible.
Oh boy, biggest issue to date that I'm fighting with. It's not one I've overcome yet. It's related to having all my physical and mental flaws pointed out to me in school. Others joined in the kids pointing out all that was wrong with me until I cracked and ran off alone to cry. I tried to act perfect and there was always something wrong with it--and with me. I was too short, too flat chested, my clothes were cheap, my shoes were kiddy shoes, my pencils were dorky, I wore the wrong lipstick color, etc. But this personal hangup really gets me when it comes to fanworks. I feel like I can tell a great story, but the minute somebody starts picking things apart, I feel like the fanwork is worthless. I was so proud of the fanfic that later led to my online humiliation. Now I feel like that story was a huge mistake, but so many people DO love it that I can't justify taking it down forever. There was another fanfic I wrote that I thought was different from what's out there, only to have somebody pick apart a character not wanting to abort her pregnancy because she thought it was murder. The source material never gave us any indication of where this character stood on the matter, so I ran with my own idea as I don't like the idea of abortion either. People write what they know! I have trouble liking that story too, because of that one person. I know they meant well, but it's a ME thing, not a THEM thing. I understand the point of criticism when it's constructive. The person who picked at that one issue is pro-choice and I'm pro-life. I felt the character was also pro-life after she went to great lengths to save an alien's life in the source material. What happens is I worry that once the flaw gets pointed out, that is all the rest of the readers will see and talk about, and then I'm afraid of getting a cascade of comments about that ONE THING rather than everything. I've seen it happen to other stories, it happened to the story that ended up causing me drama, and I'm always afraid of it happening again. I remind myself constantly that "you can't please everyone" and try to remember there are a lot of people who like my works as they are. Who knows? I do listen to the criticism I receive and try to utilize what I learned from it in future stories, but it's pretty scary to me. Even if I fix the one issue from story A when I write stories B and C, there will always be somebody who finds something ELSE wrong with those works. Fixing one thing breaks another. See how the cycle works?
Now, the above DOES NOT mean "BOOHOO, NEVER CRITICIZE ME!" I can take criticism. I don't like it, nobody does, but I wanted to share what goes through my head at first and why those things go through my head in the first place. Once upon a time, I used to be nasty to people who gave me criticism. How dare they not understand this point or that plot twist. It got me a bad reputation and I'm slowly fixing it. Now, I thank them, look at what they're pointing at and see about avoiding that same thing in the next story.
I say "the next story" because I always finish my fanworks before I post them. If they are a multichapter piece, I post a chapter a day until the story is done. I used to post as I wrote, but that meant abandoned stories if I lost inspiration. It takes off the pressure.