Do You See What I See? (Thinking Back To My Shy Teens)

There have been times when I’ve thought back on my teens and 20s, and wondered:

Did my debilitating shyness and untreated social anxiety come across as me being unfriendly or thinking I was too good to make friends?



In high school, I was an anxious overachiever.

  • I always aimed for A+ and panicked if it didn’t happen (or seemed like it might not happen).
  • I memorized every detail I could before a test (but was too fretful to ever pause to digest the information).
  • I became editor-in-chief of the high school yearbook because I NEEDED TO MATTER.

Beneath the surface, hidden from even my own insight and self-awareness, I was riddled with anxiety, perfectionism, and rock-bottom self-esteem.

Years later, a former classmate made an offhand comment that I don’t remember verbatim, but it came down to “you were too good to hang out with us.”

My teenage self would have been mortified to hear this.

That shy, lost, neurotic 16-year-old who wanted nothing more than to stop feeling like she only mattered if she was perfect.

There is so much I would go back and tell that girl. So much pain and burden I would try to take off her shoulders.

I had no idea how I came across back then. All I wanted to know was, “Am I okay yet? Am I good enough now? Is this right?”



I’m 34 now

  • I still don’t have a good sense of how I come across to others.
  • I wonder if my “extra-ness” and nerdiness and perfectionism come across as stuck-up or goody-two-shoes.
  • I wonder if my empathy and vulnerability and people-pleasing nature peg me as an underdog, a sort of homely but hopeless puppy.
  • I wonder if my social anxiety and shyness make me seem flakey and cold and uninvested.

These worries are becoming easier to manage as I grow and heal.

Most of the time, they are background music that I can consciously tune out. The music takes over only in my hurting moments.

But I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned that imperfect is way more relatable.

And that it’s better to be the flawed, friendly person at the party than the aloof cool kid that everyone is afraid to approach. (Not that I was “cool” anyway.)

Is This a realistic goal?

I want to get to a solid place of not needing to care either way.

I want my sense of self and self-esteem to be so unshakable that I just do my thing, appearances and perceptions be damned.

But I’m prepared to accept that I still have a lot to learn about all this.

30 thoughts on “Do You See What I See? (Thinking Back To My Shy Teens)

  1. That’s exactly how i felt as well. Now that I’m older i kind of feel like when i go somewhere new i should wear a sign that says “I’m not mean, I’m socially anxious”

    To me you come across as a very kind, funny and lovely soul. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think you seem nice from your blog.

    I also wonder how people saw me in my teens and twenties. And now, to be honest. I also think I came across as aloof because of social anxiety, and also because of autistic communication difficulties and fear of bullying (I was bullied at school and became very suspicious of other children or teenagers).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes. I was told at least once by someone as an adult that I came across as aloof and unfriendly. Some people reached out to me, but for so long I felt afraid to really be part of their social circle. I started being a little more social and friendly senior year, but then we all graduated and went our separate ways, and it was harder to stay in touch in those days with no social media and with email being a recently emerging technology that a lot of my friends didn’t have. There were other complicating factors as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. First off, I really like the new look of your blog. Obviously the product of a keen designer’s eye. Well done.

    I will admit my obvious bias right off the top, but I have never heard anyone say an unkind word about you. You are perceived as kind, generous, thoughtful, responsible, talented, smart and accomplished.

    I wonder if it really matters what people thought of you in high school. You can’t change their perceptions now and you ended up in a good place anyway, with or without their approval (tacit or otherwise). It is an interesting exercise to try and speculate how others saw you back then. The ones who are still in your life today are really the only ones that matter, though, and the fact that they are still around is your answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your biased but very much appreciated compliments πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ xoxo

      It doesn’t really matter what they thought, and I don’t want to seem like I’m living in the past or dwelling bitterly. I guess I’m just reflecting on how different things and people can seem depending on where and when you’re viewing from.

      I’m glad you like the new design! I have lots of fun with the graphics πŸ˜€

      Like

  4. What a cutie!
    We were pretty mean as a teen. Eat or be eaten, we thought. We got into several fist fights as a result and lost. It’s not hard to take a punch when you can dissociate.

    We would gladly give love now. We choose love

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have recently been thinking of my teenage years because during my β€œCoVid isolation rip the house apart cleaning”, I came across my teenage years journals. Oh my! They were so cringe-y that I shredded them. I had about 25 three ring notebooks with of teenage triumphs and angst. I couldn’t shred them fast enough! I wish that I could have told my teenage self to stop trying to make things happen! Some things should not work out like we think they should!
    Great blog! Miss you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

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