Lately I've been realizing something of which I'm not very proud. And to write about it, I need to go back to the past for a little while...
In my early adolescence I developed a severe social phobia, as a result of an event which I interpreted as traumatic. I only overcame many of my fears in my early/mid twenties, with the help of some good therapy. In the present I would say that I still have low to moderate social anxiety, the severity of which depends a lot on the particular circumstances. And I have an introverted nature, which opens up to those few with whom I connect and feel comfortable.
I can say, by experience, that social phobia is a very dark place to be in. You desperately both want and not want to socialize. You feel very lonely, and you tend to put others in a pedestal. In your eyes, others are relaxed, confident, full of interesting things to say, and with very exciting lives. How can you possibly not feel anxious around others, when you're so fragile and uninteresting? One paradoxical and dangerous consequence of this idolization is that you tend to forget that others are human and fragile too. They too seek love and understanding. And sometimes they're as frightened as you are. And they're not like bad cops whose only function while interacting with you is to judge and punish you for your incompetence in life. But, in a way, this is how I've been unconsciously looking at the majority of people who are not a part of my small 'circle of trust'. I keep this armor, trying to protect myself at all costs. But I guess this implies, to anyone who tries to reach me, that I'm expecting the worst of them. By default, I do not trust them. I expect them to judge, criticize and reject me. I never thought about how that could be hurtful and perhaps even offensive to the other person.
This really hit me when, recently, I met a person from my past (with whom I've never been really close) and she was all nice and effusive, while I kept very stiff and tried to say goodbye as quickly as possible. When she was gone, I was sad. Why did I act this way? Somehow my brain regarded her as a threat. But objectively there was no reason for that... I know this is very related with my social anxiety, but this event really motivated me to try to be more open, and to learn to expect, by default, the best of each human being, and not the opposite.
Awareness is supposed to be the first step towards change. I hope this can be my first of many steps to become more open and trustful towards the outer world :)