I think many people would describe me as laid back. And in terms of my outwards attitude, that is actually pretty accurate in my opinion. Yet dive into my anxiety disorder, and it quickly becomes apparent that the laid back attitude is a lie.
It is a lie, a mask that I wear to hide my anxiety. In my experience, people don’t enjoy being around someone who is anxious all the time, so I learned to act accordingly. Being laid back, I thought, would make it easier to make connections. I was wrong.
Yes, being laid back might make it easier to get along with someone. But that isn’t the same as true connections. The truth is that while I don’t have many people I consider to be enemies, I also don’t have many close friends. It would be more accurate to say I have acquaintances, people I say hi to and can be civil towards, but not people I am close with.
Because my laid back lies, just one of the many lies that come from my mental illnesses, keeps me isolated. True connections form when people know your dark secrets, your jagged edges. Real friends aren’t afraid of the skeletons in your closet, probably because they helped you shove that skeleton into the closet in the first place. And if and when you want to get rid of that skeleton, they will be just as ready to help you with that as well.
True connections form when your boundaries line up with the boundaries of others, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. By contrast, my laid back lies have made me truly awful at setting boundaries, meaning that I constantly feel like I am out of control, reacting to what happens around me instead of choosing my own path. Indeed, part of the reason for my laid back lies is that I want to avoid confrontation, and thought that being so laid back would be a way to do that. Let me tell you, that isn’t the case.
I missed out on a lot of possible connections because of my laid back lies. I write this to hopefully help others realize the benefit of being genuine with others. Because mental illnesses are already so good at making you feel isolated, there is no reason to help them along with laid back lies.