Last week, when I returned to school after the hurricane, I was planning on showing some of my friends a story that I wrote. When I took it out, though, I had a sudden thought: What if I’m not the great writer that I thought I was? What if everyone laughs at me? This is stupid. I hate my writing. I shoved it back into the depths of my binder and refused to let anyone see it. My friends protested, saying they liked my writing, but I decided that they must’ve thought I was fishing for compliments and couldn’t be honest about how terrible I really was.

The same thing happened when my best friend recently told me that I was pretty. I refused to believe her, and protested so violently that she ended the conversation altogether, and now we’re not talking. I never believe people when they compliment me. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just take in what they’re saying and be happy about it? Sometimes compliments make me feel worse.

I can remember a time when compliments made me feel good. Since then, though, I’ve gotten a good share of insults, too, and those felt much more weighty. They got into my head, and eventually made any praise I received feel different, and suspect. Insults can be very persuasive that way. Now if someone tries to flatter me, I instantly shut them down. I don’t believe them.

I wish I could stop being like this—it’s wrecking my friendships, my self-esteem, my personality, my life. ♦