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So. That was said to me, several months ago now, and anytime I feel a little worthless or down, I use that as a stick to beat myself with: “Of course no one’s invited you this weekend, why do you expect them to?–it’s not always The Amanda Show. Of course your semi-friends/acquaintances didn’t recognise you in the shop, even though you recognized all 3 of them, even the one you’ve only met twice–I mean, why should they recognize you, it’s not like it’s The Amanda Show. Of course no one’s replied to your emails about your uni assignment, why should they, they all have lives, and just because you’re doing group work doesn’t mean it’s The Amanda Show.” On and on and on it goes, until I can barely assert myself even when I know… I mean, I’m 90% sure… I mean, I’m fairly certain… I mean, is it even possible I could be in the right? Maybe not. I’ll just stop talking. It’s not always The Amanda Show, after all.

When it happened, I told someone what had been said to me (someone who, at the time, I considered one of my closest friends–someone who I thought loved me) and I’m pretty sure they laughed. (Can’t be completely sure, it was a FB chat.) Last week, we were talking about… oh, let’s call it the differences in our perspectives on morality… and this is how one part of the conversation went:

Me: The point’s not whether or not ____ could stick around forever, it’s that he doesn’t twist everything to be my fault, as if none of the other people involved have any say in it. You try to pretend I’m the one calling all the shots, and it’s just not the case

Them: It isn’t always the Amanda show.
Do those words, from a fairly objective place, not haunt you?

From a fairly objective place. A woman who’s several years older than me, who’s just gained a lot of weight while I’ve lost a bit, who’s very ill and understandably jealous of people who are not, who wants to be up on a stage again but who doesn’t have the energy, who remembers what sex was like and thinks she’ll never have it again (whereas I do, admittedly, have it fairly often with some of my friends)… this is an “objective” place? (She also spends a lot of time chatting to my friends, including some of the ones I sleep with, but not really to me, so… she’s not even possibly going to be “on my side” really, is she?) First of all, who could see her opinion as “objective”?

And secondly, how can that even be an objective thing to say? “Your own life is not about you. Stop living it as if it is. Don’t…” (well here I get stuck, since I genuinely don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do–sleep with fewer people? Do it, but don’t be so open about it? Don’t talk when I’m in a group?–although the very person who said it, once *also* made the statement, “I can see why people fall for you, because I’m talking absolute drivel right now, and you’re looking at me like I’m the most fascinating person in the world”–so I’m guessing I do an alright job of listening to other people talk…)

Objective, huh? In the vernacular of Inigo Montoya, you keep using this word, but I do not think it means what you think it means.

I’m uploading pictures from a night out, right now. It was meant to be my early birthday (because I’m in lectures on my actual birthday, and the closest weekend to my birthday, the day after my birthday, we’re going to someone else’s birthday weekend) and every time I go to upload a picture of myself, I stop and think, “Is this too many? Will this one make it too much? Are there other people in the shot with me? It’s not always The Amanda Show, and it wasn’t even *really* my birthday…” (a fact which I kept apologising for, and when someone else had “Happy Birthday” sung to them by the bar staff, one of my friends wanted to have the same done for me, but I begged him not to, because I hate having a roomful of people looking at me and it’s not even my birthday anyway; but I might’ve borne it with good grace and just felt a little awkward, if I hadn’t already been thinking we were spending too much time on The Amanda Show…)

It took me years to get to the point where I could take a selfie and upload it, like, without taking 50 and picking the best one (I still do a bit of weeding out the worst ones). Getting to the point where I didn’t die of embarrassment to see my make-up smudged, or a little belly bulge, or my hair looking a bit dirty… that took years. I’m still not comfortable having my picture taken–but I’m *also* not comfortable with the fact that, most of the time, I feel utterly out of place and far from home and as if one of these things is not like the others/one of these things just doesn’t belong… I’m trying to ground myself, trying to put myself into some sort of group, trying to form some sort of attachment to my surroundings, trying to make a habitat where I feel like I can live and grow and be happy, and now, I feel like I’m completely in the wrong for that.

In the end, I took fewer pictures of everyone than I normally would. I usually always have my phone out, I’m constantly getting group shots and selfies with people, and I DID have a few bursts of that, but… I just couldn’t do it, last night. Not like I usually do. I mean, someone had set up a tabletop game for me, and it wasn’t even my birthday. Someone else wanted to get the bar staff to sing to me, and it wasn’t even my birthday. Someone else bought me a drink, and I tried to refuse, because it’s not even my real birthday (in the end he said, “Aye but we’re celebrating your birthday now, what’re you having?” and I did)… and I had a good night, because lots of my friends got up and sang, and they were all surprisingly good (except one of our friends, who we all know has the voice of an angel, no one was surprised by her bringing the house down) but I was also constantly talking myself down, reminding myself that it’s not all about me (we were meant to be out for my birthday, I repeat again…) and if I thought people didn’t want pictures or video taking I just stopped, I didn’t ask for clarification or go take a photo of someone else or whatever, I just put my phone away.

And I tried so hard to smile and be friendly and go along with everyone else, and when a drunk acquaintance kept wanting to kiss me I’d give him a hug and a peck, and when my friends were onstage I cheered and danced (so nervous dancing in public!) and when another friend was sat down with back pain I offered her some painpills (non-prescription) I had in my bag… and all I can think now, while trying to get the pictures on FB, is how many can I upload, before it looks like all I do is take pictures of myself? How many of my own face am I… allowed?… to add, before it’s The Amanda Show, and all I care about is myself?