Originally written (incompletely) on May 19, 2019
She acted like she was pleased to meet him. She told him he was cool. She acted as if she cared about him as if she thought he had a great personality as if he was welcome to play pool with her, to celebrate his birthday with her. She acted like she wanted to be his friend.
Next time she saw him, she was well aware that everything she had said and done last time was a show-off. She wasn't pleased to meet him. She didn't care about him. But she had to face him, so now what? She could avoid an awkward situation if he was too far away, probably not that far. If their eyes connected, she would have to talk. She straightened up and told herself that she was a good person. She could choose to like him.
It turned out she struggled to make conversations beyond "how are you?" She felt relieved he didn't say anything more than "good". She would not want to listen. She did not know what to say to engage him. She felt awkward, glanced at her phone hoping she could excuse herself but found nothing of substance. She asked a very off-topic question. How stupid that question was occurred to her a few seconds later. She started to get nervous. She felt weird and uneasy. She looked for something to get distracted hoping to end this awkward meeting. Somehow, she managed to end the conversation with a "nice to see you again". She walked away, taking a sigh of relief. She breathed out, felt calm and relieved. She wished never to get into awkward meetings like that.
She thought it was over until she saw see him again a couple of days later. She still didn't like him, in particular. Her last attempt to make herself like him had failed. But there was no escape. She had to play the same game again. Once again, she felt relieved when the conversation ended.
Things got darker when she discovered that he wasn't the only person she was uncomfortable around. She found herself in a position where she was constantly pleasing people, constantly acting, even though she didn't care about them. Eventually, she found herself avoiding people. She was tired of getting into awkward conversations. Once, she tried acting like she didn't see a friend but the awkwardness only spiraled upwards. Every consecutive meeting had now become a panic attack. She even considered hiding somewhere whenever she thought an encounter was inevitable.
She eventually became uncomfortable around people. She was constantly thinking about what others were thinking about her in public situations. Could they see that she was faking happiness? She developed anxiety and stayed at her apartment most of the time. She couldn't speak in front of people. She'd constantly be nervous about people are looking at her. She got more and more introverted, more and more detached from her friends. But life sucked in the apartment. She wanted to go out and enjoy life but she didn't know what was wrong.
Little did she know that things could get worse, until one day her friends in an online chatroom told her they were in the same boat. She wasn't the only one who had confined herself to the walls of an apartment. They had done that, too. In public, they were doing the same facade that she was doing. Were they telling the truth? Were they just exceptions or the rule? What if they were the rule? What if all her real-life friends were just as fake? She had intuitively known it to be true all along. She hadn't a clue what was going on anymore, who was real, who wasn't. This was chaos beyond control. She pretty much broke down, clueless and anxious.