Approval Addiction

Behind the noise
of other people’s opinions,
I hid behind my greatness.

I’d tell myself “I didn’t like the spotlight,”
ducking behind the scenes,
I felt comfortable. I had nothing to lose
except for my comfort zone.
It would take a lot for me to give that up.

I’d go to meetings,
so apprehensive; I’d feel imprisoned.
The entertainment in my head
of what other people thought of me,
always on replay, ravaged my life.
I didn’t know how to stop the music.

And for the days preceding these encounters,
I’d be restless, couldn’t sleep,
couldn’t think straight; just a mess
and on the day of these gatherings,
I’d shiver in my seat, couldn’t speak
they had their titles for a reason,
they knew more than I did,
that was my conclusion.

I was where I was for a reason,
always trailing behind
the observation of other people’s reality;
I didn’t see myself outside of
the descriptions I adopted as my personality.

My ideas,
I wanted everyone to like,
but I’d end up clutching them to myself,
dreading their almost irresistible rejection
if I dared open my mouth
to “challenge” authority
or at least that’s how I saw it;
it was more dependable that way.
Always telling myself “no, I could not do it”;
dismissing my skills as “not good enough.”
while exemplifying other people’s efforts.

I held conversations in my head
of how I thought people would react
if I said or did this or that.
Consistently holding back my voice,
fearfully agreeing with other people’s conclusions,
not wanting to agitate the peace.

I existed for the high I’d get
if someone fancied my hair
or some different outside appearance
(or the few times an idea I had made its way into the limelight)
others would only get to see the most beneficial results
after many aborted attempts
at my advertised “perfection.”

I worried myself sick
about things that did not concern me.
I’ve done plenty of damage to my self-esteem.
Self-doubt ran dominant in every area of my life.
My unique personality became a backseat rider.

I didn’t know how to advocate for myself;
I kept obsessing over what
other people thought of me.
I was surely fading away;
my dreams didn’t even want to hang around.