I struggle all the time with the contrast between public perception and private reality.
On the one hand, we see others who seem so together, so comfortable in their skins, and who always seem to know the right thing to say.
On the other hand, we know how we ourselves feel--sweaty, nervous, with the faint sense of anxiety increasing the longer we stand at the outside of the conversation, waiting for that perfect moment to break in.
The funny thing is, all of us feel that way--even the ones who never seem to sweat.
The tension you feel arises from the illusion that you can somehow transcend the latter feelings and become the former paragons you admire.
Release the tension.
Decide that you can't be superhuman (none of us can--by definition).
Let who you are hang out, and learn to not care what others think.
And then, paradoxically, is when people will respect you the most.
Because you won't be some shining idealized version of you that they outwardly admire, yet are inwardly resentful of.
You'll be another flawed human being that they can truly relate to.
Originally posted as a comment on my old classmate Lindsey's always thought-provoking blog.