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aug u sten bu r roug h s


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When I was entering adolescence, I was paralyzed by thoughts of how other people were judging me. I was desperately polite. I held doors for everybody and if someone stepped on my foot, I was the one who apologized. In conversation, I couldn’t even form my own opinion because if I admitted liking something the person I was speaking with disliked, I would have felt a profound rejection, like I was left behind. I could feel this terrible, crushing self-consciousness and do-good best behavior limiting me by the hour. In a moment of mad, brazen inspiration I thought of something I could do that—maybe—would help. My worst fear, the single thing that made me sick to my stomach to consider was being seen by somebody— especially somebody poised—as rude and ill-mannered. But this fear went well beyond the desire to have fi ne manners. I had come to feel it was rude to not always accept the blame for everything and to agree with others, automatically. I simply had to make my worst fears come true. I didn’t know how else to stop caring so much about what other people thought of me. If they even thought of me. I had a very bad idea. I climbed onto my bike and rode into the next town where there was a corner store I had seen though never been inside. I would go inside now. But I knew, I would never come back. As I’d hoped, there were several other customers. I pretended to look at magazines while waiting for a line to form and soon one did. I lost my nerve several times. Finally, though, 66

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2/29/12 10:34 AM

This is How by Augusten Burroughs