My therapist and I have been working on why I have anxiety about going to the grocery store alone. It isn’t a huge anxiety, I’ve been able to get there a lot these last few months, but I still have this weird tension when I go into a store, like I’m watching on eggshells. I want to make as little an impression as possible. It’s basically because I don’t like being looked at. I like to control my social interactions, and when you’re just wandering around a store, you can’t control who is going to look at you or not.
My therapist thinks it’s because I’m afraid people will judge me negatively, and that’s part of it, but it’s not completely accurate. She’ll say things like, “If people are looking at you, it’s probably because they’re either just spacing out, or because they think you’re pretty.” That’s not really a comfort to me. First of all, I don’t believe (like my therapist says) that people don’t think about other people at all. One of my fears is I won’t be able to find something and will wander the same aisle a couple times. I don’t want the same people to notice that, because I assume they’ll think, “Oh, she can’t find something. Har har,” or something to that degree. My therapist says that people don’t put that much effort into noticing things. That baffles me and I always stare at her with squinted eyes when she says that. How does that..that doesn’t take ANY effort. I notice stuff like that all the time, I don’t even control it, it just happens in my brain. And people are judgmental. They talk about strangers all the time. For me, the main way of getting over the anxiety is just to not care about what people think. I can’t believe that they just aren’t thinking at all.
The second thing is that I don’t really want or care if people think I’m pretty. I obviously do, but on my terms, y’know? I’m going grocery shopping, not looking for attention. When I was young, I was really awkward with clothes. I wanted to wear certain clothes, but I was afraid to. My mother was telling me frequently to pull my shirt up, such and such was too tight, I shouldn’t bend down, or that my jeans were riding too low, and I got really self-conscious. I just got my first two-piece swimsuit last year and did not tell her (guess she knows now), but I was too nervous to wear it, and now it doesn’t fit anymore. I have ordered another one, FYI. Whenever I decide what to wear, it’s hard for me to not be consumed by thoughts of what people will think, and Chris is no help. He likes everything. In my mind, I’m always agonizing over if something is too “sexy,” but I also don’t like to wear unflattering clothes. This level of self-consciousness is at its highest when I’m out in the world alone and all people will notice is my clothes and body. I can’t talk to them so they walk away thinking something else besides, “Oh, she’s cute. Nice scarf. Cleavage. Hideous face,” or whatever.
I just don’t like to be looked at when I don’t want to be looked at.