It’s that time of year again. Even the most balanced, contented and cheery person may struggle with the social pressures and change in routine.
I’m currently living half way across the country from all my family and friends, so this Christmas was a 4 hour drive to fit as many people as possible in, in 4 days. Arriving at midday on Christmas Eve, by the time it was the evening on Boxing Day I was exhausted. Emotionally and physically. For the first time since my parents split up 3 years ago, it was actually a fairly regular Christmas with no real hiccups. By bedtime on Boxing Day I was wired but shattered, desperate to be at home and see no one for days. The next day was 4 more people and the long drive back. Don’t get me wrong, I care very much about these people and see them a lot less than I’d like, but right now I don’t want to see any of them. Right now I’d like to be alone on a mountain top. Right now I’d like to not exist.
I’ve believed for years I’m an extrovert. I’m fairly convinced these days that I’m an introvert who suffers from chronic loneliness and separation anxiety. The paradox of this is exhausting. I’m desperate for people to like me, for that real human connection. But there are so few people I genuinely have that connection with, the rest is acting.
I’m the happiest person, I enjoy having a good old chit-chat, I never bring you my problems, my life looks pretty darn good. The only problem is, none of that’s real, inside I’m curled up in a little ball rocking back and forth, clutching my cuddly toys. But you’ll never see it.
And there lies the real question: take off the mask and lose ‘friends’ who believe you are that act, or keep these people believing you’re the fun, happy person who’s nice to be around?
I can’t answer this. I’ve never come close to removing the mask.