Approval Addiction

Behind the shadows
of other people’s thoughts,
I hid behind
my greatness.

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

I’d go to meetings,
so nervous, I’d be sick.
The play going on in my head
of what other people
thought of me, constantly on replay
was ruining my life.
I didn’t know how to stop it.

And for the days leading up to these meetings,
I’d be jumpy,
couldn’t sleep,
couldn’t think straight
… just a mess
and on the day of the meeting,
I’d tremble 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 perception of other people’s reality;
I didn’t see myself
outside of
the labels I accepted as my personality.

My ideas,
I wanted everyone to like,
I’d end up keeping them to myself,
fearing their almost certain rejection
if I dared open my mouth
to “challenge” authority
or at least that’s how I saw it;
it was safer that way.
Constantly telling myself “no, I could not do it”;
dismissing my own 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 opinions,
not wanting to disrupt the peace.

I lived for the high I’d get
if someone liked my hair
or some other outside appearance
(or the few times an idea I had made its way into the limelight)
… they’d only get to see the best result
after many failed attempts,
at my displayed “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 rampage in every area of my life.
My unique personality became a backseat rider.

I didn’t know how to approve of myself;
I obsessed over what
other people thought of me.
I was surely fading away,
my dreams didn’t even want to hang around.

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