When I was 10, my life goal was to fit in. I desperately wanted people to like me and to want to be with me. However, I had no idea how to interact with other people. I struggled with social rules and codes of conduct. I was inept at reading body language and found myself trying to copy the people I wanted to spend time with. Often, I failed without even realizing it.
It was an accident that revealed my inability to me. I walked up behind a group of people who were discussing how frustrating it was to have me around. Surprisingly enough, it did not make me not want to be there. It was the fourth or fifth time I heard the same type of comments that I realized I should not even try. I backed away from the group of friends I was trying to woo at the time. In high school, I would repeat the same behaviours with a similar result - a 16th birthday party with no guests tipped me off.
I became a very sullen and angry teen. I figured the more I could keep people away from me, the less I would fail at interacting with them and the less I would get hurt. In the long run, it didn't work, but I felt more protected. I spent time with people I knew would never insult me or judge me. I spent time with people who were younger than me - one's I knew I could control if I needed to. I built a really good wall.
It took many years before I figured out I wasn't fooling anyone and was actually doing myself some damage. But by then, I had a good set of friends who cared about me and wanted to hang out with me. I learned to like myself better and I learned to be more comfortable in the presence of others.
And yet. There are some days - some incidents where I revert back to the worry that people don't like me. Or that they are just tolerating my presence. I hear something that someone has said and the self doubt and insecurities come flooding back.