It’s not Me, it’s You

I have had a strange problem all of my life; the problem of perception. I do not mean that by this I am saying that I have sight problems, or that I have low self-worth. No. The problem of perception that I mean is other people’s perception of me.

When I was quite young I suffered quite a serious illness. Happily, this has had no lasting effect. Sure I have a couple of minor issues that you could connect to the illness, but it turns out that these issues could be suffered by anyone, so I am happy enough to conclude that there is no connection at all.

I have just finished watching a wonderful TED talk by Susan Cain, and I realised something. When I was at secondary school it seemed to me that I was avoided by many of my classmates. I used to think that maybe there parents had told them to stay away from me because I had suffered an illness that they were ignorant of. This may well have happened, but now I believe something else was going on. I was gently being punished for a wrongdoing.

I kept myself to myself. I was quiet. I was the kid who prayed for a rain at playtime so I could stay in the classroom and read. I hated having to venture into the playground with all it’s noise and chatter, running about and being boisterous. I now live quite near a junior school. I see the quiet ones trying to occupy their time like I did. My heart goes out to them.

I believe that I was subject to prejudice. It’s been going on for most of my life, and it still goes on for others. People do not like others to be different. At the most extreme people will just write you off. Others, who are well meaning, think that there is a problem to be overcome, and they encourage you to join in. I would be invited to parties and get togethers, accept the invitation, and then, assuming I did not back out, hate every minute of it. I love to be part of a team at work, but really, in my spare time, leave me be. Talk to me if you want to, and by all means invite me out, but please don’t pressure me.

I believe that social pressures contributed to my depression. It’s something that I have battled with for a long time, and it’s taken half of my life to start to win the war against it. I am now more confident and more creative now than I have been in years.

I am job seeking at the moment. At the beginning of this period of unemployment I felt useless for not having a job. I would get downhearted if I was turned down for jobs from employers who I never wanted to work for in the first place. Then I realised that all I can do is present the best version of myself to them. If they decided to turn me down then it’s their loss. A job does not define who I am. Being unemployed does not define who I am. Society will no longer decide who I am. I will decide.

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