For years I was convinced I was an unlucky person. My coworkers in fact used to joke that I was “cursed” when it came to coming across really unsavoury individuals.
What always shocked people was that I was not an outgoing person, I didn’t like to stop and chat to strangers and I mostly kept to myself. I didn’t dress in an eccentric way or try to draw any attention to myself at all. In fact, for years I actively worked to be as unnoticeable as possible.
I was CONSTANTLY being approached by bizarre people. Not the kinds of people you would expect either. I’ve had couples walk up to me on the street as I was walking to work to ask if I would perform certain unmentionable activities with them. I’ve had strangers reach over on the bus and hold my hand refusing to let go even when I say I’m uncomfortable.
I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong that was capturing these people’s attention. All I wanted was to go unnoticed and go run errands without having a huge commotion go on.
At the time I was also struggling with the people I actively chose to have in my life. Every new person I tried to meet in order to grow my circle of friends or date ended up being objectively not a very nice person. And though I sought out many different people, after a few meetings things would inevitably fall apart.
This led to many calls to my mother crying about why I couldn’t find people who I felt were kind. Why are these people drawn to me like a magnet? What am I doing that makes these people approach me when I just want to be left alone? Why are people so comfortable being mean?
My mother in her infinite wisdom, quoted Dr. Phil’s “what I fear, I create”. As corny as it sounds it made perfect sense. When I left the house in the morning from the time I walked out the door to the time I came back I kept repeating in my head “please no one talk to me”. I was essentially putting out into the world such a strong sense of fear of being approached that it had the exact opposite effect of what I wanted. The same happened when I would meet new people, I was so caught up in being hurt by the actions of the people before that I held very low standards for anyone I’d spend time with. People who like to prey on others seek out people like me, they can read insecure people like a book.
It became clear that I needed to work on my own assertiveness to shut people down when they crossed my boundaries and I felt uncomfortable as well as learning to demand better for myself. It’s still something I’ve got to work on all the time but once I stopped allowing people to enter my life if they were going to be more of a hinderance to my happiness rather than a good friend, suddenly all those people disappeared. I didn’t need to actively cut anyone out of my life or have some dramatic show down with anyone, they just faded away on their own.
While my circle definitely got smaller after this, my happiness shot up and it made room for the real friends I had to shine through as well as make space to meet new people who will add to my life rather than take away.
While my problem was the way other people interacted with me, it wasn’t until I reflected on my own behaviour and attitude and made changes within myself that I found the respect and kindness from people I was looking for. You can’t blame people for the actions and mistreatment they receive from others, but often there are steps you can take yourself that can have a big impact.
Has this ever happened to you? What made the biggest difference?