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I like believing in basic human good, and that most people are trustworthy and honest. My anxiety, however, assumes that everyone is a James Frey-caliber liar that harbors a secret hatred of me.

"I thought you guys were my friends, and then you complimented me! HOW COULD YOU?" (via Thinkstock)
"I thought you guys were my friends, and then you complimented me! HOW COULD YOU?" (via Thinkstock)

Here are some very nice, or at least very benign, things people have said to me and how my anxiety interpreted them.

“I love those boots.” — Acquaintance

What my anxiety thinks she said: I can’t think of anything nice to say about you as a person, so I’m going to compliment your boots, which somebody else designed and made, and you just chose to put on.

“I’ve really seen improvement in your work. Good job!” — My boss

What my anxiety thinks they said: But I remember your mediocre old work, and if you backslide just once, I am going to fire you. Actually, I'm not just going to fire you. I'm going to wait until your birthday, have everyone in the office sign a card where they write down what they hate about you, and pretend to hold a birthday party for you that's actually a "f*ck you; you're fired" party. There will be a cake, and you won't be allowed to have any, but you also won't be allowed to leave until you watch everyone else eat the cake.