Please Worry About Me
There’s a recurring phrase I’ve noticed in my life recently. It’s something that’s been said to me a handful of times. “I’m not worried about you”.
I don’t believe I’ve ever really been someone that people ”worry about”. I’m a mild tempered, level-headed, realistic-grasp-on-life kind of girl. I believe that when you really get to know me, you also understand that I don’t tend to turn away from emotion. Rather, I welcome emotion with open arms. I’d like to think I have an innate savvy for helping others and handling touchy subjects.
The thing is, people just don’t worry about me. They’ve told me.
“I’m super worried about blah blah blah, not so much you”. “I’m happy I never have to worry about you.”
Stuff like that.
Oh? I wanted to say. You’re not worried about me? Ever? What was meant as a compliment actually felt a little insulting. The phrase just stings with neglect. Sometimes in my head I think, thank you for believing that I’m soooo mentally stable. But guess what haha WRONG.
So, what would it take to be worried about me? A slight mental breakdown, perhaps? A public display of emotion? I don’t think it should have to come to that.
I used to wonder, is it selfish to want people to have concern for how you’re doing mentally? Emotionally? But it’s NOT. I think everyone deserves to feel like there’s someone out there thinking about them. Not only thinking about them, but being concerned for their well being.
I do not want to sound whiny. I love the way that I’m reliable and strong for other people. I take pride in my stoicism and try my best to treat such a role with grace. In fact, my problem isn’t even with carrying this responsibility. My problem is with the assumptions that come with it.
To me, it seems there’s an assumption that when you offer others advice, people assume you must take that advice for yourself as well. Well, I’m here to say that’s actually bullshit. I think I’m a relatively good advice-giver, but why is it that I feel I can so rarely help myself? I need people to lean on. I can’t make decisions on my own. And that’s ok! It’s just something I’ve learned about myself. But yeah, I think I’d shrivel up and die if I always had to keep things to myself and deal with my problems internally.
The trouble is, when people don’t ask, when they don’t actively worry, and when they don’t openly show interest in things that might be taking an emotional toll on you, it can be hard to believe that anyone actually cares. Even if it’s not true (and it usually isn’t), it can feel that way. I know this because I’ve been both the perpetrator and the victim of not asking Hey, how are you doing?.
Since I was a kid, I just kind of kept my feelings to myself. I have this theory that it had a lot to do with being the youngest sibling and falling into a certain youngest sibling role. Then, that role transcended into my friendships and social circles. I was always the observer, carefully picking out and separating the things I could get away with, and the things that would get me in deep shit. I was a listener, a perceiver. I was always terrified of being punished. I was sensitive. I hated the thought of anyone being angry with me. I hated conflict even more. So I tried to make sure I never created any. I built up trust with my parents, my teammates, my friends. I tried hard to be a good kid.
My whole childhood I tried and tried. And you know what? It paid off. I knew people trusted me. I was responsible. I was clean. I was punctual. I was honest. So that was the role I fell into. The one they never had to worry about. And I still am!
Don’t worry about me Mom and Dad, I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me coach, I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me guys, I’ll be fine. It was the role I fell into everywhere. I was always going to be fine - don’t worry about me! Consequently, because I said so, I don’t think anyone really did worry about me.
I’m still the same way. I’m so proud of the way that I’m responsible and I’m thoughtful. I’m critical, yet optimistic. I prioritize honesty. I’m driven, but realistic. I generally have my shit together, so people don’t worry.
But sometimes, Jesus, I just want someone to worry about me. I want someone to understand that a lot of things go on beneath the surface. I just want someone to say “I think about you a lot” or “I hope you’re doing okay” like they really do worry about me. Fuck privacy. I want people to pry and I want people to ask questions.
I could always be better for other people, too. I also need to ask more questions and I need to check in more, even for the people that seem like they might not need help. I understand that because I am one of those people.
What I’m saying is, it doesn’t have to be a cry for help, wanting someone to worry about you. I think simply put, it's a desire for connection, which there’s no shame in asking for. It’s tough, you know? Telling people what you need from them. But one thing I know is that none of us are mind readers. There’s no way of knowing who has reached peace or who’s still looking for it, unless we say so.
So, yeah. Ask.
Ask people if they’re okay. Ask for help. Ask about that thing that happened last weekend. Ask if they want to talk about it. Ask anything. But please don’t say you’re not worried.