For As Longas I can remember, I've been awkward. And I only know this because others tell me- either plainly through language or not-so-plainly through body signals, avoidance, or odd looks. I knew that they thought I was awkward, but I also knew they were wrong, because I didn't feel awkward. I didn't behave the way they expected, so they gave me a label they could be more comfortable with.
For example, I get compliments often. That may seem like boasting, but it is true. Most people do. The only difference was I never said 'thank you'. I would probably have said 'is that so?' or 'it is nice, isn't it?' To me, it was obvious that I had nothing to do with the color of my eyes, or how nice my hair was. They are just things, and are no more a part of me than trees, or dirt, or the sky. But they were no less a part of me. The world, and everything in it, is not a bunch of little things thrown together, and we are not all separate little dots on the earth trying to make our own little ways. We're all part of the same thing. So to say a certain thing pertained to me, or was mine, to me was a little odd. More than odd, it was confusing.
Even for someone who knows what they feel, if you're told something often enough, you start to believe it. So after a while I bought in to the idea that I was awkward, and suddenly I had a problem. I became more aware of what others thought of me because what I had bought into was- it is important to get some of your identity from others' feedback. And I had a big problem. I was a youngster (as I was at the time) suddenly dropped into the social arena and I had no idea which end was up. I changed a lot just then. In order to have a good self image I had to convince others that I was socially competent, acceptable, friendly, in other words, a good person. So I played the game. I tried to be what it seemed like people wanted to see... and I became miserable. I gained friends and a good reputation. I tried hard to get people to like me, and it worked. Yet I was very depressed and tried to hide it. I remember I would often cry uncontrollably just out of sight or earshot of my friends, when moments before I had been laughing right along with them.
It was years later that I finally became upset enough about being depressed that I tried to discover its source. Frustrated, I delved into every avenue I could think of. But of course, once an identity has hold, it does not want to let go. You're loath to be something else. Maybe I was miserable, but at least I was me.
Then, I remembered. Or realized. If you have not yet, you have no idea what that means. If you have, you already know what I'm talking about. The realization of who I am brought understanding, relief, joy, happiness, and a kind of good-natured humor over what I had been so upset about all along. It all seemed like such a silly thing, but I knew that when you're caught up in it, it seems very real.