Sara Barnard

Sara Barnard

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I think about how I wish I didn’t think so much. How everything would be simpler if it were just . . . simpler.
Here are three separate but similar things: shyness, introversion and social anxiety. You can have one, two or all three of these things simultaneously. A lot of the time people think they’re all the same thing, but that’s just not true. Extroverts can be shy, introverts can be bold, and a condition like anxiety can strike whatever kind of social animal you are.
Lots of people are shy. Shy is normal. A bit of anxiety is normal. Throw the two together, add some kind of brain-signal error – a NO ENTRY sign on the neural highway from my brain to my mouth, perhaps, though no one really knows – and you have me. Silent Steffi.
‘I don’t really . . .’ I stop, embarrassed, but then the silence is so expectant and awkward I have to finish. ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing.’ There’s a pause as Connie slows for traffic. She glances at her rear-view mirror again and smiles at me. ‘What did you say your name was? Steffi?’ I nod. ‘No one does, Steffi. No one knows what they’re doing.’
Of course I have dreams, I reply. Don’t you? I want the world, I think. Even if it scares me. Doesn’t everyone?
‘Mistakes are an unfortunate side effect of actually doing things, but they’re usually worth it in the end.’
There’s no such thing as getting your hopes up if you’re anxious. Little victories are everything in a world where worst-case scenarios are on an endless loop in your head.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, anxiety. You worry so much about being wrong in a certain way that you screw it up anyway.
Tem is always the one who takes the lead, who makes the friends. The needed one. I am the one who needs, the one who misses.
We stopped waiting for a light-bulb moment a long time ago. It’s never going to come. Sometimes things just happen.
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