I used to be a pretender.
It all started my freshman year, as many high school sagas do. My best friend from middle school was barely an acquaintance at this point, so I entered high school somewhat adrift and without a social circle to call my own.
Cue my classmates. My schedule, jam-packed with honors classes, didn’t offer much variety peer-wise. And essentially, my friends became my friends because of convenience and proximity. That’s not to say that’s the only reason we’re friends, it’s just how our friendship started.
But I often found myself pretending throughout my high school career. I was worried that I wasn’t interesting enough, that if I didn’t keep myself relevant I’d fade into the background and again find myself without a group to call my own.
I really hate to admit it, and never really have, but I used to play dumb. A lot.
Once I realized that some of my unintentional ditzy comments entertained people, I started making them intentionally and more frequent than before.
I tried to be a people pleaser in all aspects of my life, and ended up not pleasing myself.
Case in point: senior year.
I started becoming withdrawn, keeping secrets, and exhibiting this what-the-hell attitude. I was constantly playing up how I was going to get tattoos everywhere and go crazy partying. It wasn’t because I was really interested in any of that (okay maybe the tattoos a little), but because I was tired of being known as the sweet dumb girl and still feeling like I was on the outskirts.
I resented the people who labeled me as such, and who sometimes treated me like I was less. They might not have thought they were doing so, but I felt it. I felt belittled. And I resented myself for putting me in that position.
It got better once I started dating my boyfriend. I had someone to spend time with, someone who after peeling back the layers got to know me.
But then college struck, and a long-distance relationship tore me away from the one person that I found myself completely real with.
It was lonely at first. I had trouble finding people I really connected with at school, and more than one night was spent upset and alone in my dorm room. But, it was also a fresh start.
I knew pretending didn’t make me happy in high school, so I stopped.
I was alone, but I was real for one of the first times in my life.
And eventually I learned to to accept being alone, now it no longer holds a tinge of loneliness but instead freedom. There’s a quote from Oscar Wilde that I’ve come to love, he says:
“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”
Being alone allowed me to stop caring about what other people thought or wanted. Now my mentality is less people pleaser and more I do me, you do you, and if you don’t like it I don’t care.
Let me know what you think in the comments!