Personal Expectations Only

Some people are afraid of the dark, of being alone, of reaching out and finding that there’s no one there.

I’m terrified of being with people.

I never know what to do when I’m with them; what to say when the small talk wanes and they want to know more just to fill their little bags of Other People Trivia™.

It’s like needles under my skin, poking around in several places at once.

I want to scream “Enough!” and bolt for the safety of my own company. I want to slip out from underneath the pressure to entertain, to respond, to open my mouth and make sure everything that comes out of it makes sense.

Because things don’t always make sense in my head. Sometimes, it’s all just static or gibberish and I’m trying to find meaning within myself.

How do I explain this to anyone who has their expectations of how I should act or speak?

It’s always too much and I’d rather be quiet.

They say it could be PTSD, that something may have broken inside me ages ago.

So now I’m looking for the trauma but all I’ve found is a horrible kind of tiredness that threatens to devour the parts of me that still have some energy for living.

This tiredness is a giant black leach sucking the enthusiasm out of my spirit.

People say they understand.

They say that with a vacuous or pitiful expression on their faces.

You’re clueless but you understand. How?

I’d rather no one said anything. I’d rather they didn’t ask for answers they’re not ready for.

Because when you poke around in the darkness, you never know what monsters you might awaken.

And people don’t like monsters.

No, they don’t.

They want you agreeable, pleasant, entertaining and open. They want you ticking all their boxes of appropriateness.

Fuck being appropriate when you can’t breathe from the weight of expectation.

That shit smothers you slowly enough for you to watch yourself become unrecognisable mush, something to be scraped off the soles of passers-by’s shoes when they get home to their mass-produced comforts.

I fight foreign expectation and the thirst for a constant stream of external validation because I need to breathe.

I fight because getting absorbed into someone else’s dream of who we should be is how we forget who we are.

It’s an aspirational life, but whose fucking aspiration is it anyway?

Who’s dictating this tune we’re all supposed to dance to cheerfully?

Maybe the dance is the trauma. Feels like it.

We’re keeping up appearances as the spirit caves in, saving face at the cost of everything else.

It’s an expensive and painful way to die.

I can do better, check out of this plane of existence a lot faster if life is what I’m tired of.

But I’m not tired of life, just of a lifestyle.

I know there’s more elsewhere and I must be brave enough to go there, wherever that is.

It’s time to drop everything and pick something different.

I know that there are no guarantees and safety nets break all the time, but at least I have some faith.

We’ll just have to see how it goes.