Anxiety & What (Imaginary) People Think

That’s me wearing the vest I tailored from a thrift store denim jacket, & most of the patches are made from an old shirt and paint.

I’ll level with you, I hate pictures of myself.

I take a selfie or someone takes a picture of me and I look at it and say, “that’s not me.” It’s not that I necessarily dislike the picture, it just looks wrong. What I see is not what I picture when I think of myself. A tiny part of it is stuff like my weight, but the bigger part of it is self-esteem laced with anxiety. My smile doesn’t look sincere, or I look completely uncomfortable despite feeling fine.

I know my self-esteem needs work, but I also know I’ve come a LONG way from the meek, scared, don’t rock the boat girl from small town Nova Scotia. Attitude wise I’m better, yet every picture I still see that side of myself and I haven’t been able to fix it. How can I make the outside look like the inside?

I’ve tried different things. Dressing more formally? Weird. Less feminine? I hit a combination masculine and feminine that I liked, but I worried that others thought it too masculine or too immature. Then, was I punk enough? Just like when I was scared to admit I was fangirling over Blink-182, these imaginary people (fueled mostly by my anxiety, the media and people criticizing new fans) whose opinions apparently mean so much to me, were holding me back.

This anxiety disguised as imaginary peoples opinions have actually scared me into waiting months before I wore something I wanted to wear. Doc Martens: I’m not tough enough, then with Vans I can’t skateboard how dare I wear those. I was scared to wear certain band t-shirts after being quizzed about the band twice, being laughed at when I didn’t know some obscure NOFX fact. Eyeliner: Too old. Punk vest: Too many pop punk bands on it, that’s not punk, people would see me as I’m a poseur. I wear them now, but wearing them together? The thought was terrifying. Punk may be about not caring what others think, but spend time around any group when you have social anxiety and it’s bound to happen.

I don’t know what gave me the confidence to dress the way I’ve always wanted to dress for a local punk show. Maybe having a friend with me or the small scale of it. I scrubbed off the eyeliner and then reapplied it twice before I took that picture.

All I know is for what could be the first time I look at that picture up there and I think, “that’s me going to a show”. That’s me with my punk vest with all my favourite bands on it. Me with poorly applied eyeliner because I’m still learning and because I want dark, smudgy American Idiot era Billie Joe Armstrong eyes. Faded out green hair because I’m trying to dye my hair all the colours Tr√© Cool has dyed his (two left to do). Wearing baggy, cuffed jeans and doc martens because they’re comfortable and those boots make an impressive noise when I walk that makes me feel confident.

Up close on the patches

That insecurity is still there. The anxiety isn’t going away anytime soon. I know I’ll still worry what others think when I wear this again to the next punk show, but it’ll be a bit less and if I take a selfie or have a picture of me taken at least I know it’ll be me in it. I went to the show and no one said anything negative, those imaginary people with their oh so important opinions got a little quieter. It’s one little win.

As a side note before you leave a well-meaning comment about how I shouldn’t care what others think, I know. On some level I don’t because I’ve done all these things. It’s something I’m working on, but it’s also something I have to face in order to work on it. Patience and tips are always welcome.


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