I know who I am when I am on my own. But when I am just another person in a sea of strange faces, it’s like I lose my sense of individuality. I am not myself.

It feels dangerous to only be sure of my personality and confidence when I am in the comfort of my own home or with my closest friends—among the people who know me the best. Part of me wants to meet new people and craves new experiences but as soon as I am confronted with large numbers of people, I feel lost. I am hyper-aware of my face, my arms—I feel every muscle, every twitch. Everybody else seems calm and normal, while all I can feel is the stress rising in my chest. It’s tiring. Sometimes I can’t tell if other people make me sad, or if I make me sad.

Sometimes at dusk I sit in my garden and wonder where I would like to go. But these days I think the nicest place must be where I am—in my garden in the summer. Because that is where I am relaxed and at peace.

I hope it won’t always be like this. I want to feel relaxed everywhere and embrace places and people. I want to be able to dance everywhere as freely as I can when I’m alone in my bedroom. I want to feel as free as I do when I’ve got my headphones on and I’m walking through my neighborhood listening to my favorite songs. I want to be able to summon the strength that I know I have. Although I think a lot about escaping, exploring other countries, wanting to be some place else, I am still too scared to set out on my own. And I hate that reality. ♦