Is it me?

This is the question I increasingly ask myself, cognizant of negative reactions towards me. Not a reaction to how I look, but rather some kind of behaviour I exhibit, which I’m just not conscious of.

Those negative reactions didn’t cease with maturity. I just learnt to largely avoid them by withdrawing from social settings wherever possible. In my youth, due to participation in education, interpersonal interactions were unavoidable. Nowadays that’s less of an issue.

However, about a decade ago, while enrolled in a religious education course in a neighbouring town, I encountered those hostile reactions once more. Indeed the gossip amongst fellow students was nearly identical to all I had experienced previously, leaving me quite disheartened.

So to that question: “Is it me?” Do I exhibit unconscious neurobehavioural anomalies that invite derision and hostility. Or is my own perennial shyness itself interpreted as hostility, or even arrogance? I wish I knew.

Some people get on with me very well, and would be perturbed to learn of this question. These folk would say, “There’s nothing wrong with you at all. You’re just a bit quiet.” Which is lovely, but that’s not my whole experience.

If I could, I would ask those who had negative reactions in the past what they were responding to. Was it my face? Was it my form? Was it my character? Was it something I said? My behaviour? What was it that invited so much contempt and derision?

These are serious concerns. Over recent years, I have retreated back into myself. I rarely socialise except with the closest of friends. Generally, I keep myself to myself. A comfortable coping mechanism, but one which is hardly healthy. I am becoming almost a recluse.

That’s why I can’t help asking myself these days, over and over: “Seriously, is it me?”

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