I was that one quiet, seemingly studious girl who sat in the front of the class. I kept my distance from everyone, not because I disliked them, but because I was avoidant and withdrew from social situations in fear of criticism and rejection. That mindset first emerged when a friend who I was once completely dependent on replaced me with new friends, calling me clingy and annoying. But, that didn’t matter anymore—what mattered was that my mind was full of doubtful, pessimistic thoughts that needed to go away.
I convinced myself that others didn’t want me around. No matter how outgoing I tried to be, once they got tired of me, they would leave. Besides, everyone had closer friends than me. I was replaceable. These thoughts supposedly protected me from experiencing negativity from others, but they also prevented me from forming emotional connections. While trying to avoid being hurt by other people, I became isolated, ironically hurting myself.
Feelings of inadequacy were the root of my problems. I thought that, in order for people to like me, I had to fix myself. I became obsessed with calorie-counting, and I set up unrealistic restrictions on my diet. Everything was fine until I started feeling cold and lightheaded all the time. I literally had to pass out before realizing how absurd my life had become. No matter how much I tried to change, even if I forced myself to participate in club activities or raise my hand in class, I was still alone.
So, what was the magical cure to loneliness? It was to break the cycle of harmful thinking that caused it in the first place. I needed to stop questioning my self-worth and start believing that others could see more to me than my faults. I never noticed this until recently, when I let myself get attached to someone new again. When they suddenly disappeared from my life, I assumed that they had finally gotten tired of me. However, upon communicating how I felt with them, I found out that my negative thoughts were simply ideas that I had formed on my own. The reason why I failed to maintain any relationships was that I expected them to fail. I can’t say that I’m completely confident with who I am yet, but at least I have the first step down: becoming self-aware and learning to live with a more optimistic outlook.