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Before I leave my house each morning I cover-up (figuratively and literally).

Over breakfast I will rehearse in my head conversation topics and my response to possible questions I may be asked throughout the day. I will also mentally picture myself in social situations so when I do greet a professor at school or someone in the office I will be mentally prepared. To cover-up feelings of panic and nerves I usually make lists. For example, I am terrible with names. When I meet someone new I am so preoccupied with the strength of my handshake, remembering to make eye contact, listening but also remembering that they expect a response in return, and to not look anxious that I usually forget a person’s name. So, after I meet someone I will write their name down quickly with a physical feature (such as the color of their hair) and a personal detail they have shared in our exchange. This list of names is crucial because the first impression I give to others can sometimes be interpreted as distant and aloof. If I can greet someone with their name the next time I see them, it will hopefully combat that possible first impression.

I do not like wearing make-up. However, I wear lipstick every day. I have a hematoma (a cluster of blood vessels) on my lower lip. It is usually mistaken by onlookers as a cold sore. While lipstick does not hide it, it tones down its purple tint and will hopefully direct people’s eyes away from my lip. When the hematoma is fully visible it can attract unwanted attention and personal questions.

Who is benefitting from me covering-up? I used to think covering-up was a coping mechanism to help me get through the day. It would help me feel less self-conscious. However, as more people encourage me to get out of my shell and more people ask why I have not tried to remove my hematoma, I continue to wonder if is actually helping me. By even terming it “covering-up, I trying to hide something that I don’t think should be there in the first place. Just because I feel, or I have been told to feel, that I should get better at social situations and that I should want to get rid of my hematoma, should I cover it up? Covering a behavior or a physical trait does not eradicate it’s presence. Covering-up is a quick and short-term solution. But is there a problem in the first place? I don’t have an answer at the moment.

About Hilary M

Hilary M is a twenty-something Toronto student who is living with social anxiety. She considers herself an ally with people living with disabilities and enjoys working and volunteering at organizations that secure human rights and accessibility for all individuals.

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