I Didn't Ever Cry for Attention

But I'll Tell You Why People Think I Did

I Didn't Ever Cry for Attention

So, I've been told a couple of times that people think I cry because I want attention from everyone who breathes. That's honestly the funniest assumption I've heard about me, and I've been called a lot of things ranging from your average "bitch" behind my back to people calling me a bomb-carrying "terrorist" to my face. And I may be a bitch (I'm not a terrorist), but I don't cry for attention.

I cry because I'm scared.

I cry because I've not had a great time with people in the 19 years I've been alive.

I cry because I'm a pessimist and I think that the worst is going to happen in pretty much every situation.

I cry because I'm an overly-emotional person and it can get overwhelming at the best of times (all the time).

I cry because I'm sad.

And this isn't a cry for help before someone assumes. I had to wait years before I could even attempt to be happy. I had to wait to be able to fully rid myself of some toxic people.

"Treat people how you wish to be treated"

A saying I stick by and have done for a while. I've always treated people in a way I hoped to get back and a lot of the time, I've been ridiculed for it. I've been seen as someone who's "trying too hard", simply because I didn't really belong in a friendship group, neither did I really have friends. I'd much rather want to be seen as trying too hard instead of not trying enough because that can lead to losing more friendships than building.

It would've been different if I was already close friends with those people; I'd be the one everyone wanted to be around if I was friends with the popular crowd at school. I still do treat people how I want to be treated, and now I'm around a completely different set of people, being at University, it's paying off.

I used to somewhat be a people-pleaser, I think; it didn't last very long. I used to want to make people's lives easier and them happier in the hope they'd like me whilst also to give myself a bit more purpose. It was a desperate and lonely time. This was a heavy 8 years ago. Things aren't desperate anymore, they're just a little bit lonely and it's better that way. You live, you learn, you move on and you get over it.

I distinctly remember being told twice, in two completely different years from two completely different people in two completely separate crowds, that they thought I cried for attention.

The first was in 2010, during a weekend away at PGL with my year group. I volunteered to stay in a room with girls from my form that I didn't know (I didn't know anyone in my form, full stop). I remember us all sitting on two top bunks one night and talking.

The conversation shifted to rumours throughout the year that have been spread about people in the room. I straight up asked what things have been said about me and, for a second, everyone went quiet and I got told that no one really spoke about me. I knew that was a lie and heavily insisted on someone telling me what people thought which led being told that people think I cry too much for attention no one gave me.

The second was at NCS (still the worst month I've ever had to endure). In just the first week away at another residential, I managed to cry every day for 7 days straight. I was in a team of two separate friend circles. One were girls that I knew and the other were a bunch of boys and girls from a different school; none in which I fit. I was being treated poorly by one group, whilst the other group didn't really try to get to know me.

I was sat with the mixed group one day, and one of the girls saw how poorly I was being treated and, in shock, turned to me and said, "I understand now, I get why you're upset. I don't mean to sound rude, but we all thought you were crying so much because you wanted attention. But now that I've seen it, I'm sorry I ever thought that."

Neither of these incidents made me upset at the time and they don't now. If anything, thinking back to them makes me laugh. I can't comprehend a type of person that makes themselves upset to the point of uncontrollable tears, to make other people sympathise with them and give them their undivided attention. It really doesn't make sense to me at all. Unless the person in question's a baby which, believe it or not, I'm not anymore.

What I don't understand is that these people knew there was something wrong, surely. They noticed I was constantly crying and continuously upset, but not a single person really tried to find out what was going on or if I needed a bit of company. Both can be synonymous with wanting a bit of attention, I'll admit. But I don't and never have cried so people have an outright reason to pity me in the hopes that they drop what they're doing to tend to my needs. There's a difference between that and needing a friend.

The past is the past and what happened has happened. I didn't ever want attention in the way everyone assumed, I just wanted someone to genuinely care.

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Bushra Shahriar

A 21-year-old student studying at Keele University - writer and poet.

See all posts by Bushra Shahriar