I know what you’re thinking… or do I? Mind reading abilities would be so handy right now. Paranoia seems to stem from our inability to read minds and others’ inability to share their thoughts.

I used to walk around thinking the big old world had it in for me. So I became SUPER nice so that I had a decent shot at being accepted. This sense of paranoia came out of a childhood of issues with girls at school and the like. You know the type, one week you’re their best friend, the next they are stealing your bag and making fun of your longish neck. For a lifetime loyal friend like me such rejections were so difficult. I found it hard to trust friendships and even nice things people say because people are so fickle. They simply change their mind on a whim and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Paranoia grew out of these experiences! I’m not talking the kind where you need strong medication but I think most people walk around with a mildish case of social hypochondria. This is heightened when you start a new school, uni or workplace. It’s your chance to start again, to reinvent who you are with a totally new set of people. But who are you? Who do you want to be at work, school, uni, mother’s group?

When my son started preschool I decided to be confident and friendly Emma. I would push my paranoias way down south and embrace my true self; one who cares about people, one who looks out for the little people! So I did it. This preschool was in a ridiculously wealthy part of town and I wasn’t in that demographic… not even close. Intimidation of the nation! But I decided to push that sense of self-consciousness way down out of sight and yay out of mind and I was determined to fit in, on my own terms in my own way!

The reward for all this was a group of mum friends I possibly wouldn’t have now if I had given in to my insecurities. Yes there are some mums out there who avoid me because I’m not a millionaire. I know it’s true, I just don’t care. My friends may be wealthy or not, it’s not in me to care a hoot about the mighty dollar. I just like them for who they are and who their kids are.

I saw the preschool thing as a bit of an experiment in living. I thought if I could survive in the tough world of well-to-do mums and come out smiling then my former paranoias would have no choice but to die! And 3 years later they are nearly all gone. The way I live now is to assume that all people like me for who I am and if they don’t, then most of the time it’s not my problems bucko! I am filled with amazing people in my life and I simply don’t have time to play petty games anymore! How good is that?