I think it’s incredibly important to know yourself. This probably seems like a pretty obvious statement, but how well do any of us really know ourselves?
I know I really used to struggle with self-awareness and confidence. I still lack self-awareness in the social settings, but what can I do? Figuring out how other people view and perceive me is just beyond me most the time, and I’m not going to worry too much about it.
Eh, who am I kidding? I’m going to worry. But my resolution this year is to work on NOT worrying about it. Haters gonna hate, right?
Back to self-awareness and knowing oneself.
I think I’ve always had a pretty solid sense of self. I’ve never liked going along with the crowd. I think this is in part due to my nature, it is how I am made. I can’t read social cues very well and have little need of social interaction or friendships the way it seems a large majority of people do.
Though I really enjoy having people to talk to about my interests, and I thoroughly enjoy stimulating conversation, I value my alone time. Self-reflection is oh-so-important to me. I also think it’s incredibly important to gaining self-awareness.
In this age of hyper-connectedness, we are prone to needing instant gratification, over-sharing and drama. Once we are hooked, it can be a nasty cycle. In fact, drama can be down right addictive. I’ve had drama prone people in my life and have been caught up in their cycle in the past.
I’m much less tolerant of it these days, but it’s still hard for me to figure out the line between being a supportive friend and setting limits to the amount of venting, sympathy, support and demands on my time that I’ll tolerate. I like to be good to those in need. I’m not a cruel or selfish person, despite how I might come off.
I draw my energy from within. Other people consume my hard earned energy when I deal with them. I love people, I think they’re fascinating, beautiful and intriguing in all their forms. Unfortunately, there are very few that I can spend a great deal of time around. This has especially become true since I had my son.
He’s quite the demanding little guy, and he deserves every ounce of energy I have to give. Between myself and him, I’ve had to learn to set boundaries and cut people out of my life for his sake and my own mental health.
I have to be careful, though. I can’t live in a bubble. I must seek out people, I must be able to work with and get along with people. And this is where the knowing myself part comes in.
I have to have confidence in order to work with people. If I doubt myself, if I question myself and worry too much, my self-confidence is whittled away and I end up not setting the boundaries I should.
This is especially hard since I am almost certainly on the Autism Spectrum. I KNOW I have social deficits and have to question myself and what I may have done to cause a certain reaction in people. My body language is often off, so is my tone, and my directness can seem hostile or abrasive to people.
NONE of this is intentional, so I spend a lot of time questioning myself, second guessing and correcting myself.
These are aspects of myself that I must accept. I will apologize if I hurt someone, but I will not apologize for being myself. I cannot control how other people feel or how the perceive me. This is extremely hard to do in practice. I want to be liked. Who doesn’t?
Another thing I’ve realized about myself and must accept is the fact that I am extremely vulnerable to manipulation. I am a direct and honest person. I do not put double meaning behind what I say. I don’t care about climbing a social ladder or getting something from people.
Unfortunately, because I think this way, I project this way of thinking on other people. I tend to take people at face value and assume they are as direct and honest as I am. I tolerate a lot from others because I assume that there is no ill intent and accept people for who they are. I make a lot of social faux pas and say things that come off wrong, so I give people the same leeway.
I do my best to be socially aware, to adapt, to watch people for reactions and analyze my own actions to figure out what I might be dong to elicit certain reactions. But it is damned hard when I have to focus on processing what people are saying, what it means beyond the literal words they are using, and what their facial expression, tone and body language mean as well. Add multiple people to the equation in a group setting or group conversation, and I’m screwed.
I know these things about myself. Now I just have to work on being accepting and kind to myself. I am who I am, and it’s okay. It’s okay if other people don’t like me. It’s alright if I’m not a social butterfly, articulate and popular. I don’t need to be bubbly or charming or outgoing.
I am who I am. And I know that I am a good person, always striving to be better.
Those who love me and stay by me, I believe know this too. And I’m incredibly thankful for them as we go into this new and exciting year ahead.