do you know me?

Indistinct figure against frosted glassDo you know me?

Because I certainly don’t. I don’t know who I am anymore.

The idea for this post has been eating away at me for months now. For almost a year. But I kept on pushing it away. Too scared to write it. Worried what I might uncover, that I might not do justice to something that feels so big. The monster whose tentacles reach in and make my mental health the mess it is. I denied it. Not ready to face…I don’t know what exactly. Just not ready. Even once it existed, it sat skulking in my drafts folder for months. Just not ready.

So am I ready now? I’m not sure. But maybe it just feels like time to hit that publish button.

Somewhere in the past I lost myself. I thought I was making choices because of what I wanted, because of who I am. But I realised I have done so much, made so many decisions trying to be who I felt other people wanted me to be. Scared and wanting to be part of something. Desperately wanting to fit in. Ignoring that by doing this I never really belonged. Never really felt comfortable in my own skin. Never accepted for being me.

I tried for so long to make myself more vanilla. More agreeable, less dry and sarcastic. I tried to aim for a career to be proud of. Found myself apologising for not being more ‘normal’, for letting people down. Stopped standing up for my beliefs, fighting against the injustices I see around me.

But that is not me. That person without a temper is not me. That person who stopped giving their opinions about things is not me. Neither is the person who stopped going out, stopped dancing. Who stopped pushing the rules, stopped wanting more from life than a mortgage and a reliable, well-paid job. Who stopped raging against the imbalances in the world, stopped believing in doing what they wanted and to hell with those who didn’t like it.

That was not me and trying to live that way broke me.

And it never really worked.

I have spent my life worrying about how people see me. Trying to be someone people would like, be proud of and want in their life. I lost my identity. I lost what makes me ‘me’. In a twisted way it has sometimes been a blessing. At my darkest points, it got me out of bed and kept me going. Because I haven’t wanted to let people down, for them to see me as weak and useless. But would I have had those dark days if the pressure of living up to expectations, of not fitting in, of not being true to myself, had not ground me down? If I did not constantly live with my fear of being abandoned or rejected because I was not good enough. Not funny enough. Not caring enough. Never enough.

So who am I? Sometimes I feel like I am nothing more than the sum of other people’s expectations and opinions. I am not me and I worry I am realising this too late. That I am too bowed and weak from always trying to be this person I have presented to the world in the desperate hope that people will like me, will think I am worth something, to ever find myself.

I don’t know what replaces this image I have lived behind for so long and it makes me feel so lost. So full of conflict. That person is not me but there is no me to be instead. I keep feeling like I am on the edge of something. Answers maybe. I hope it is answers. The answers to me, to what makes me happy, to my dreams, to how I can belong and be true to myself. I want to know who I am. I want to know me.

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash