Guys. I have a confession to make. This is hard for me. (*Takes deep breath*)
It seems as though I am developing mild lactose intolerance. (I say “seems” because I am firmly in the denial stage, wherein I keep pretending I can eat all sorts of dairy products, and that does not always work out so well.
That wasn’t that hard, right? So why do I have such a problem admitting this in real life?
This is because the last thing in the WORLD I want to be is weak or bothersome. Any form of weakness, and the subsequent need for special treatment, is strictly not OK in my warped mind. I don’t want people to see me as “one of those people” (which in my mind usually vaguely refers to someone who is not perfect), as if there was something heinously unChristian about lactose intolerance.
But like, who judges you on the basis of your ability to digest lactose? Only wackos, is my guess.
The bigger problem here is that these stupid little thoughts, the ones that say “You don’t want to bring that up, people will think you’re weak,” or “You don’t need to bother them with that,” or the most harming, “Don’t make a big deal out of this,” have much, much, bigger consequences than occasional dietary discomfort.
Exhibit A: My cross country career.
Occasionally in running, you get little injuries. The solution is usually: take a day or two off, rest, and you’ll be fine. This is a good system, but it does not work if you are clinically insane, like me. Instead, I will continue my normally scheduled running, despite pain, because only a weakling would quit when it’s a little tough. I don’t actually believe that, but I think other people do, and in sick deference to my imagined ideas about their opinions, I run myself into stress fractures and subsequently, crutches. A lot. (I should add that I also ran myself into the ground because a large part of my identity was tied up in my running performance – but the fear-of-weakness thing did not help.)
Don’t make a big deal out of your little injuries! You’re tough! You’re fine.
And then you can’t walk. Bummer, dude.
Which leads me to my NEXT social anxiety attack, AKA, being on crutches without a cast. Because then people might think I’m a faker, making a big deal out of nothing. It’s like the social anxiety fun never ends!
Unfortunately, this is not even the most disastrous consequence of my fear of making a big deal.
Like, when I was in college, and didn’t want to be “one of those people who needed counseling.”
And let me tell you, I really, really was one of those people.
You’re fine! Don’t make a big deal out of the past! Denial has been working great! (Hint: This is the voice of the devil.)
Because of my fear of being perceived as weak, I end up with broken bones and emotional breakdowns. Wouldn’t it be better to just admit that I’m a mess upfront, so I can deal with my problems instead of living in denial for the benefit of an “audience” that doesn’t really care? Yeah, that seems better.
I actually thought I had been getting better at this, until the whole lactose thing. (Because journalism is 90% harassing people to return your calls, which would have killed me 2 years ago, but now I accost scalpers, so that’s progress.) But it turns out my fear of being weak and bothersome still runs counter to my ego. And for this, I must remember that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. So actually, the more weaknesses, the better. The more I can give up my efforts and let God show up and do his amazing grace stuff.
So hurrah for weakness! Hurrah for great counselors! And a special hurrah for that humbling lactose intolerance.
P.S. Lest you think I am the only person with weird social anxieties, here is some solid proof from the interwebs that I am not. I present to you, Anxiety Cat.
(I literally just wrote “these are not all applicable to me specifically” and realized I was doing that so you wouldn’t see me as weak!! I’m the WORST!)
Also, Socially Awkward Penguin: