Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Standing Out Is Hard When You Had To Blend In To Survive

I'm currently working on a cover letter for a job I'm applying for and I had a realization that really hit me hard. I've never been particularly good at writing cover letters since I don't like talking about myself in that context since it feels like bragging to me even though it's just being honest and talking up your good points instead, and I'm pretty sure I've just figured out why.

I've spent my entire life trying to blend in, so I don't know how to purposely make myself stick out anymore.

Think about it - I was bullied for most of my life (from kindergarten up through my senior year of high school). I formed a friendship where I felt initially accepted in college only to be rejected once that person found out that I wasn't a carbon copy of the person they were trying to use me to replace. I'm not even sure that I've been "real me" in public since maybe the first semester of my sophomore year of college. I don't even seem like I've changed much over the years to my real-life friends because they've only gotten to see "fake me." In actuality, I've changed a lot, but I've been putting the same happy-go-lucky front up for everyone outside of my family for a really long time now. Sometimes, my friends see cracks in that facade, but for the most part they've gotten a consistent "fake me" over the years that I've used to protect myself. "Real me" can really only be seen these days on the internet, where I'm less prone to judgment by people and am more acceptable since it's easier to find people like myself.

Writing a cover letter, therefore, is really hard for me because it forces me to do the very thing I've been trying not to do my entire life to protect myself - stand out. My fears of rejection flare up every time I send out a new job application because it means I have to be noticed and I could potentially be torn to shreds again, just like I've been my entire life. The only place I've never had this problem is with school - I applied to one college and one grad school and was accepted to both. Socially and career-wise, my entire life just feels like one giant rejection letter a lot of the time, and that fear came out today as I crafted yet another cover letter with my job coach. Standing out goes against all my survival instincts that I've developed over the years. I know I'm potentially the right person for each job I apply for, but trying to get myself noticed is something that genuinely scares me because of what's happened to me upon being noticed in the past. I felt at my safest when I was invisible and went about my life without anyone noticing me and saying something mean. (City life works well for me since in New York there are lots of strange people so it's easy for me to blend in going to and fro.)

I deserve to feel safe to stand out, but I've never felt that safety anywhere off the internet, and I really wish I could. If I wasn't an ostracized object of ridicule as a kid and teenager, it might have been different, but here we are. If only I felt safe to be myself in the real world.


  1. I love you unreservedly, Steph. You are totally wonderful. I would love to be able to be helpful to you. <3

    1. Aw, thank you. <3 All you have to do is be my friend, really!