I wish telling myself this was enough. That I could just be confident that I was coming across like a normal person. Either I try to just “be myself”, and worry that people are looking at me funny. Or I try to act “normal”, and constantly worry that I’m getting it wrong and acting weird. I wish I could just not care, either way.
I’ve really tried to not think about it. So people think I’m weird – so what? But I feel exposed – vulnerable. It feels dangerous. I suppose at some point in my childhood I decided that saying or doing weird/dumb stuff made you stand out, and that brought negative attention. So I decided to try and restrict my behaviour, and became even more quiet and withdrawn. And then that brought even more negative attention. So I decided “welp, I guess I just better avoid social interaction altogether, because I don’t have a fucking clue how to manage this”.
I don’t even know how I’m really coming across to others. The only concrete verbal feedback I’ve had is that I’m super quiet, and that I avoid eye contact, both of which seem to creep people out. Everything else is based on my interpretation of people’s response to me. When I’m more talkative and natural in my conversation, people seem to respond negatively – like I’m talking a foreign language or something. My mannerisms and ways of expressing myself seem to irritate people. But maybe it’s just that I’m hypersensitive to negative feedback, and everybody else provokes the same levels of irritation in others.
I don’t think I’m autistic, but I really relate to having no confidence in my ability to read social cues.