It's the end of my first year at university, and I want to talk for a bit about trust.
One of the biggest problems in my life has always been that I don't trust people. I like them, sure, I'm even loyal to them, but even when I'm swearing to myself that I'll always be there for them I still have this deep, unshakable fear that they won't do the same.
I should probably say that this does not include the lone, few people in my life that have proved to me that they deserve my trust, a million times over - you know who you are - but they're the exception, not the rule. Moving on.
The problem with not trusting people is that even when you think the best of them, you're also simultaneously thinking the worst. What's the worst that could happen? Well, the people around me who say they're my friends could be lying, and one day will tell me so for cheap laughs - it happens. It happened to me, although the person who actually did the deed was not at fault. To prevent that, you try and prove, clumsily, that you're worth keeping around, make them depend on you, in all sorts of ways - such as doing their homework for them, protecting them from what you see as threats, even taking the fall for them when they get in trouble, because you know you can get away with things they can't. But the thing is, that kind of desperate behaviour, people think it's funny. And when it's funny they try to promote it, lead me on, undermine my belief in them in order to make me more desperate and thus funnier. Not everybody I was friends with did this, but it was enough to do the damage. And so my trust in people eroded, bit by bit, until there was nothing left.
I went in to this new environment, then, with all sorts of conflicting feelings. On the one hand, none of these new people know what I am, what I was, how much of a freak I've proved to be, so that I can reinvent myself if I so wish. On the other hand
people are bastards. I was sure, down to my core, that if I lied about myself in that way, they would find out somehow - I would slip up or they would talk to someone from home or whatever - and then they would leave me. No question about it. Because people can't be trusted, right? Friendship only lasts as long as people want you around, and nobody could possibly want me around. How could they?
So I took a chance. On that faint, slim hope afforded to my by my interview, when I'd caught glimpses of niceness in a surprising amount of people, I decided to get things over with and lay myself bare. If people hated me, as I was sure they would, it got things over with. No being led down the garden path by false friendships. If what I hoped was true, and there were more people out there like the rare ones I'd begun to meet in the last few years, well
there I was. Take me or leave me.
You could say I had faith. Just a little.
And in talking to people, realising that they were happy to talk back, that they didn't mind my presence and that nobody was looking at me with that revulsion I'd come to expect, that faith began to grow. In my surprise at this strange development, I threw as much as I could onto the table - my background, my interests, the ghosts of my past - expecting all the time that somebody would reject it, turn away and laugh. In a weird way I wanted that to happen - it would be somewhat reassuring, proving that my worldview was correct, that people really were the monsters I thought them to be.
But the rejection never came. No matter how much I revealed of myself, people were interested, friendly, nice. What was going on? How could this be happening? Instead of judging me for all the shit I'd been though, they encouraged me, told me that it didn't matter, that it made me stronger and that they admired me for it.
These were the beautiful people. They were better than me in almost every way, coming from better schools, better backgrounds, able to do sport and sing and play instruments and all incredibly smart. And they liked me. They though I was a good person. More than that, they wanted to be my friend.
I was wanted.
I was trusted.
And little by little, all the smashed detritus in my head started to drain away. Still in disbelief, I fought it, clinging on to the mad arguments that I'd constructed to protect myself, all the intricate defence mechanisms that saved me from inevitable pain - but they weren't needed any more. Slowly but surely, the people around me taught me that. Through word and deed, through such little things as human contact without people flinching away from me, or people singing happy birthday to me when they didn't need to, or adding me into their table for the ball without question, I started to believe them when they said that they were my friends.
And then, one day - I can't really say when it was - I was sat eating a meal, and looked down the whole length of the long, long table, and thought: I trust these people. Completely and absolutely, I trust them. Not just one or two, either, but the whole table, and the people behind, and other people all over the room - in fact there was nobody there at that time who I could look and say I didn't like. The feeling was
overwhelming. I don't think I ate much more that night (not that I ever do), I was so shell-shocked.
Everything I knew about human nature was a lie. People could have real, genuine friendships with more than one or two people, without any bonds of obligation to keep them in place, simply because they liked each other. That was it. That was all that was needed. No mind games, no lies, no desperate and constant need for proof.
So now I sit here, a different person. A better one, I hope. I've let trust get the better of me, and it hasn't killed me yet. Maybe I should have done it sooner.
I guess you just gotta have faith.