I've always been afraid of what people thought of me. Anxiety filled my entire body almost one hundred percent of the time. I felt anxious at school, church, work, and even hanging out with friends. I was always scared that people were looking at me and judging me, even when I really knew they weren't.
Anxiety has kept me in a shell. I've always been more of an introvert. I always preferred staying in and watching movies over going out to parties. I was never the loud one, always the one to sit quietly and awkwardly, listening to my friends conversate. I felt comfortable with a very select few, and those were the people that I'd come out of my shell around.
I always felt self-conscious of my outfits and how I looked. I'd always ask others what they were wearing to events so that I didn't stand out like a sore thumb.
I was a follower, not a leader. At parties or hanging out with groups, I'd always go with someone I felt comfortable with and latch on to them like a leech the whole time. I was too anxious to just sit somewhere and be social.
I was always called "awkward" or "weird" because I was barely my own person or even spoke to people I didn't know too well. That's why I like writing so much because I can speak my mind without looking someone in the face. There's no personal confrontation.
Before I started writing for Odyssey, I never spoke my mind. Not on social media and not even to my friends or family. I was always so scared of people not liking my opinion and getting mad at me.
However, through the past few years, I've started to speak my mind more and more, not caring about what other people's opinions were. I started going to parties and hanging out with groups of friends by myself, and I feel comfortable socializing and being my own person. I've learned to not be afraid of judgment.
It feels SO good talking about my opinions and writing about things that matter to me, instead of shutting my thoughts down immediately.
I used to get so flustered whenever I spoke about how I felt and someone didn't agree, but now, I don't care what people have to say about my opinions. My opinions are MY opinions, and the fact that someone else doesn't agree doesn't affect me anymore.
If you can't shake the feeling that people are judging you, I have an exercise that usually helps to calm me down.
I ask myself what I'm scared people are judging me on. Usually, it's my outfit or how rough I look. Then, I look around at other people and I ask myself, "Do I care what other people are wearing? Are other people's outfits my main thought right now?"
I answer "no" because it's true. I don't care what other people are wearing and they don't care what I'm wearing. It's not a big deal to them; just to me.
You can't live your life in fear of getting judged. That's no way to live. I know it's easier said than done, but don't think about other people. If they really are judging you (they probably aren't), it says more about them than you.