Last year (I think… I’ve lost all concept of time in 2020) I was asked an interesting question by an old friend:
“Have you always been this shy? Or did something happen to you when you were little?”
At the time I said, “I’ve always been like this”, which I believe to be true.
And my friend said, “That’s cool then. If it was the result of some unresolved trauma you’re not talking about, that would be unhealthy.”
(Just to clarify, my friend is in no way a qualified mental health professional and you should not take any health advice from this blog.)
But I have been thinking lately about why I am the way I am. And there are lots of factors that have shaped me, many of which I probably can’t even identify. However, there is one period of my life that comes to mind.
Pre-primary. I had spent the first few years of my life with older siblings and older cousins. The first day of school was the first time I’d encountered kids my age in the flesh. And it was overwhelming.
I didn’t know how to make friends. I didn’t know how to talk to people. I retreated into safe, familiar things like painting, playdough, and dolls… while doing my best to avoid frightening things I couldn’t control, like outdoor play and other children.
My teacher quickly reached a verdict and called my parents in for a meeting.
“Your daughter thinks she’s too good for the other kids,” said the teacher. “You’re obviously spoiling her at home.”
I moved to a different class, where — after a lot of help from my new teachers — I made some progress. I even got invited to a birthday party later in the year. However, socialising would prove difficult throughout my school years and even now as an adult.
I wouldn’t classify it as “unresolved trauma”. It is what it is. But what if that first teacher had realised/cared that I was struggling, instead of just writing me off as stuck-up? Would I be different? More confident and bubbly? An award-winning conversationalist?
Yeah, probably not. Like I said, there are many factors that have shaped my life and who I am.
But a part of me wonders. What if?
Then again, I’m pretty sure not being able to speak to people helped drive me towards books and writing, so maybe that teacher actually did me a favour. 😛
P.S. If you’ve read my previous posts on this blog, you may have noticed I’ve dropped the “Dear Diary” opening. It was beginning to feel a bit contrived as I’m clearly writing to an audience (not a huge one, but an audience nonetheless). I did briefly consider “Dear friend” like in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I wasn’t sure how Stephen Chbosky would feel about that. Especially after I lifted a line from his book for the title of this post. 😀