I was a people-pleaser.
I was always watching how I presented myself to others. I was careful not to do anything someone might interpret as “weird” or “different,” nothing that would possibly be interpreted as “crazy.” I would make statements if I did do anything different to make sure everyone knew I was “normal.” If I had to make a u-turn in a hallway because I forgot something I would say, “Oops, forgot something,” to no-one and anyone that saw me. I was the only one that cared what I said but it cleared the air that, though I was doing a u-turn I was really “normal.”
If I was in a room by myself, lost in thought about something, and I heard someone walk in the room, I would quickly start “looking like I was doing something” so no one would know I was “staring into space.”
Now, forty years after becoming mentally ill and thirty years after being on the right meds, I (almost) don’t care what other people think of me. Trying to maintain the facade of “normal” takes tremendous energy and traps you in arbitrary cultural norms. I care if I project Jesus’ character, but if I do something that others don’t understand and they think less of me because they don’t ask me what I’m up to… it’s their loss.
Every culture has norms because they solve certain problems. But I am not a slave to them. I will not go back to fearing what others think of me.
Life is short, Jesus’ call is consuming, and I don’t have the time to chase the phantoms of misinterpretation.