Doubting Woman, Phenomenal Woman
I don't like being alone. Growing up as the child of a military father I was forced to deal with long periods of separation and altering circumstances without always having much notice. Yet, my father was consistently my biggest source of encouragement, and even though he had to leave often, I always knew he was coming back. Unlike with my father, however, I was never as sure that the friends I had, would be friends who stayed.
In middle school my self-esteem was not what it should have been. Though they rarely gave me any reason for doubt, I often wondered if the friends I had valued me as much as they valued others. Like many middle school children I wondered if I was pretty enough or cool enough, but at the time I was surrounded by friends who seemed to have all the confidence in the world, so I kept these doubts to myself and began to feel a growing sense of loneliness inside of me. These feelings grew in high school, and were exacerbated by the passing of one of my close friends. Unwilling to share that part of me, I kept it to myself, wishing for someone to see me and my hurt, without having to announce it to anyone. I started cutting, stopping before I left for Princeton, realizing with frustration that the recognition I sought would not be gained this way.
I very rarely talk about my depression. I don't take medicine, I function throughout the day, and I can go spans of time if I have to without therapy, although I would rather not. I feel awkward and wrong calling attention to something that does not have any outward signs of proof and I don't like the spotlight. Still throughout college I would often look at others with seemingly stable, long-lasting groups of friends and wonder why I did not have that same stability and "group-feel" in my friendships.
One of my close friends at Princeton once told me that there were more people who considered themselves close to me, or who wanted to be close, than I thought. Even though I wanted to believe her, I still found it hard to shake the overwhelming feeling of loneliness and the feeling that everyone could go on fine without me. I felt inconsequential. Sometimes these feelings prohibit me from seeing the strength in some of the friendships that I do have, pushing me instead to focus on friendships and relationships that have failed or fizzled out as proof of my expendability. It leads me to withdraw from people, believing that if they really cared they would remember me and reach out. I choose to avoid sharing how much I need reassurance, fearing that it would make me seem weak, and provide friendship only out of pity or obligation.
Looking back at my Princeton experience, it is hard sometimes to separate the joys from the pain, especially as people exclaim that Princeton was the best four years of their life, a statement I pray for myself isn't true. From Princeton I did gain a handful of loyal and strong friends who stuck with me despite knowing the hurdles I try to overcome daily. As I prepare to go to law school, I worry about making friends and finding acceptance, but I know that neither can come from hiding my insecurities from others. While I know it won't be easy to reach out and trust the friendships that I will make, I hope that writing this post will be the first step in no longer being ashamed of my need for reassurance, and accepting that it is ok to ask for help in dealing with my doubts.
'Cause I am a doubting woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that's me.