Under the lens

So, I’m an over-thinker. I obsess over little details, particularly negative ones and ones which focus on social interaction. I’ve been told it’s anxiety, but that’s a dangerously fluid term these days; call it what you like, it causes me more than a few headaches.

Thousands upon thousands of us worry every day what other people think. Strangers, colleagues, friends, maybe even family – we agonise over showing them the ‘best’ of ourselves. Luckily, most relationships worth having are strong enough to hold firm even as these selves fluctuate. Especially when we’re younger, looking to settle on a reliable, predictable, personal self which we can own, the strength of these relationships comes into its own. Our siblings forgive us those bitter comments, our friends don’t mind carrying us home as stewing, drunken messes. But where does this strength reach its limit? And where’s the rule-book that tells us which… mistakes are easiest to recover from? Or how many blips we can have with someone before they start to reassess us, to judge us.

Is it worthwhile to wear ourselves down, bringing every encounter, every conversation under the microscope? Or can we let go? It can’t be fair that, with our measly snippets of life on this planet, we should have to spend so much time and effort caring about being dropped. I hope this is the case.

Or do I? There’s the rub here, the reason this anxiety can’t be waived aside. If we don’t need to over-think, how will we keep track of ourselves? How will we know if we’ve slipped into more sinister habits? Should we only wait until it becomes so obvious that it can’t be ignored, that we’ve changed into something we no longer feel comfortable with? Will it take losing a friend to notice we are suddenly selfish, or lazy, or obsessive? No, surely life is about keeping this danger in check.

The only problem is, it’s knackering, and each of us, as social creatures, needs somebody from whom we don’t have to hide our… less than perfect selves. And that is something I’m sure of.




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