I am full of contradictions

Oh man, quickly, what did we talk about the last time we saw each other? Must’ve been almost a year ago. Did he say anything useful that I can bring up in conversation now? I don’t remember. We’ve already done the obligatory “what have you been up to,” and the odd weather comment. It’s only moments before we run out of things to say. Okay, I wonder if he’s still dating that girl I’ve seen in his Facebook photos. Should I ask how she is? Damn, what was her name again? Oh, what if they’ve broken up, will it be rude of me to ask? Shit. Hmm, I could just pretend I need a drink and say we’ll continue this conversation later but never do. Crap, I’ve been so focused on what to ask next I have no idea about anything he has just said. Is he looking at me like he’s waiting for an answer? Did he ask me a question?!!

I consider myself an introvert. I am no social butterfly, in fact I’m more of a quiet, little caterpillar happily tucked away in his cocoon away from all the action. I’d rather curl up in front of the TV at home than go mingle with strangers in a crowd. It takes effort to endure long periods of small talk with acquaintances and instead of looking forward to social events I’m often worried about how draining it will be. Making friends with strangers who I haven’t spent the last 5 years building a relationship with is hard and doesn’t come naturally to me. It does not mean I dislike people or cannot enjoy their company, but it does mean I can come off seeming “too quiet,” in a large group or have to spend several moments psyching myself up and working up the courage to socialise when I’d much rather be alone. And when I am making conversation, I’m anxious to appear interesting and fun. I can only hope they can’t see that my eager questioning and cheery tone is a thinly veiled attempt to disguise my introverted anxiety. So yeah, I’m not the most popular person out there. But…

I can be out-going. Put me in a room with my close friends and suddenly I can’t remember what the word introvert means. I am loud and boisterous, and especially if we are out partying will completely annihilate any dance-floor I am on. I can be fun, talkative and initiate conversations without fear or hesitation. Instead of dreading the prospect of leaving my comfortable room I’ll skip right on out with a lively spring in my step. The stereotype that exists regarding introverts being shy, socially inept people who choose to not have friends is wholly inaccurate. Once I have built a level of trust and am comfortable with someone there is no longer a problem with being shy. Conversation flows like water, energy is in abundance and eager questioning is simply due to genuine enthusiasm. I am an extroverted introvert.

Man, look at my eyes in this photo. They’re so small and slanted, I might as well have blinked for the shot. I wish they were bigger. I should have sucked in too, was a bit bloated that night and this angle really isn’t helping. Oh god, is that person looking at me weirdly? I don’t have anything on my face, do I? Like a booger sticking out of my nose or my makeup is a complete mess. Never mind, they’ve looked away now. Boy, I hope I made a good impression with that doctor today and didn’t come off like an idiot. They didn’t seem too warm towards me…

I’m also self-conscious. I am constantly aware of the way I look, how people perceive me and how my actions might be interpreted. I perpetually try to create a positive image of myself, even towards people who are of no consequence to me and I will never meet again. It is an obsession that stems from some insecurities, but also a desperate desire to be liked, admired and respected. I’m self-conscious of my mono-lid eyes, the size of my thighs and the always present specks of acne on my combination skin. I never want to be perceived as impolite or rude, I want others to think I am intelligent and long story short I am too much of a people pleaser. Even when I’m driving I’m worried about what drivers in other cars are thinking about me. We’re in two entirely different enclosed spaces going to completely different destinations! But before you try reasoning with me I want to say I completely agree, there is no justified reason to care about what other people think and I should live to make myself happy. And yet it’s a struggle I still haven’t quite overcome for reasons that I hope you can understand. But…

I am confident. I know I am smart, I’ve never failed an assessment and have been a high-achiever my entire life. I can be self-assured and do things on my own accord without letting my self-consciousness stop me. When I dress up for a night out and look at myself in the mirror, I see a beautiful woman who is deserving of love and attention. Flaws and all. I paradoxically enjoy public speaking and having the spotlight on me, because even though it makes me nervous I know I have the abilities to do well and impress. Confidence is something I don’t believe I lack, it’s just sometimes competing with other things. Like everyone else, I worry about what I perceive as my flaws and deficits, but I also know and love my strengths.

Okay, breathe, breathe. It’s a 2-hour exam, don’t mind the fact it accounts for the majority of your score for this entire year. What’s going to come up? What if all the questions are specifically on the material I haven’t studied? Oh god. This is it. Quickly, what are the main causes of chronic kidney disease and the principles of management? I feel like I’ve forgotten everything I have ever learned. Man, I just need to get in there and get it over and done with.

I get anxious about many things. An upcoming assessment, an expected encounter, even a phone call makes my heart pick up its pace and blood pressure steadily rise. The inner perfectionist and desire to perform combined with self-consciousness and paranoia of failure are the perfect ingredients for a casserole of anxiety. I’ve also had some issues with sleep in the past due to anxiety I didn’t even know I had (Why can’t you just let me sleep?), but thankfully that has not been an issue for a while now. It doesn’t pervade every aspect of my life, but I am often anxious about little things that I should have the common sense to not worry about. These things make my cheeks flush with an undesired warmth, my back suffocate with beads of sweat and my mind threaten to go into disarray. But…

I can remain composed and perform well under pressure. Once I embark on a task my mind is focused and I’ve rarely failed. When it is “go time,” I know exactly how to collect myself and remain professional, giving off the air of confidence and perfect poise. I find myself the most anxious right before I am about to do something, but once I start it feels like every cell in my body realises the futility of feeling stressed and all efforts go into completing the task at hand. And once I’m done, the wave of of relief that washes over me is incredible. And suddenly I don’t even remember why I was that worried. Some might think it’s an exhausting process that is not worth the stress, but I’ve come to terms with how my mind works and have learned to embrace it. Look, I don’t think I am ever going to be NOT anxious about things, so let’s just try and work with what we’ve got.

So, those are my contradictions. Honestly, I think I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg and there’s probably many more conflicting qualities in me, but if I talk for any longer I worry I’d bore you. All in all, none of these labels should define me. Our identities are a dynamic, multi-faceted entity that I don’t think there are enough words in the world to describe. I don’t even think I can truly understand myself, or explain every single thing I’ve ever done. But I love me all the same and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

22 thoughts on “I am full of contradictions

  1. Thanks again for sharing so openly. Most of us are a crazy mix of contradictions and paradoxes because we’re complex beings, not the labels that humans want to use to simplify and put people in a known box. I appreciate your self-awareness at such a young age. Kudos Helen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been trying to figure out how to manage bi-polar disease, Type -A behavior, being a Myers-Briggs Introvert, and a former Roman Catholic. It has been an interesting Ride 😉.
    Your analysis of my introvert-ness is spot on!
    So, a little Gabapentin, some Neurontin, and a few others in the mix (and being sober), have been the right plan so far.
    Thanks for the many words of thoughtful insight into your conditions.😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I could relate so much to what you’ve written, I’m an introvert that can be extroverted (for work or with my friends), but social events/small talk always feel awkward to me. I recharge by being alone, away from others potential judgements. When people look at me a certain way, I think to myself that they hate me, but it’s probably nothing to do with me. Sensitivity can be great for artists, writers, people who need to be observant but it makes navigating life difficult. I used to be a people pleaser/no boundaries, but now I’m more of a curmudgeon, I say No a lot nowadays. Reading your post made me feel relieved that anxiety is common and normal. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aw thank you Judy. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert, sensitive or needing some time alone. I appreciate your honesty and the fact that we can empathise with each other 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You do things with good reasons and things without reason, such as worrying about other drivers (not about their driving, though I’m sure you do that, too). Getting to know folk is a chore; but once done, there’s great fun and meaning to be had. You’re together when you do something that needs doing but consider, on the inside, falling to pieces. Paradoxes, contradictions pushed together. I think this makes you into an altogether likable person, though maybe its my own predilections, sensible and not so sensible, that match. I’m glad to read about self-liking. I think the contradictions work well as long as there’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I appreciate the support and kind words. I think we are all contradictory in our own ways, and sometimes there doesn’t need to be a reason behind something. We don’t have to justify ourself to others, the right people who will appreciate us for us are the ones who will end up mattering.


  5. I think we all have these kinds of contradictions. We are multifaceted human beings that adapt the environment we are in. The fact that you can observe these within yourself and accept that they are all a part of you is a really great quality. Rock on!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are definitely a complicated person, who cannot be labeled by such words as introvert. I’m sure you know the real definition of introvert is someone who is drained by being around people as opposed to an extrovert who energizes by being around people. So I recharge by being alone (or with my hubby who is the same as me) and then go out there and fuel up all those extroverts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I see you have a very good strategy going on there. I like to think I probably do a similar thing, my boyfriend and I both enjoying being hermits at home but will also know how to have our fun when out!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I definitely relate to a lot of this.

    Picking just one thing to mention – I’ve dealt with adult acne my entire life and the only thing that finally worked was switching to never using anything on my face at all. For a few months now I’ve been washing my face with cold water 2x a day (morning and night, and one of those times is usually combined with my shower). I use a cotton ball to remove excess oil on my forehead and nose in between. If I so much as use a gentle moisturizer 2 days in a row, I can expect inflammation and breakouts. I don’t use any cleansing products at all and I don’t wear make-up, and my skin is looking the best it’s looked since before puberty. Might be something to explore in case it helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man acne has been the bane of my existence well into adulthood. I never had severe breakouts, but even one is enough to be self-conscious about. I will try to keep my routine simple, I think I definitely use too much. Thanks for the advice!

      Liked by 1 person

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