It feels so much better to me to be vulnerable with people (expressing my emotions, asking for help, stating my opinion, being a host) than to be disengaged for fear of being rejected. Sometimes I worry that if I am rejected by someone then I must not be okay--not be a good person, not be interesting, not be a successful hostess. I think this is something that many of us face; looking outward to see if what we're doing or who we are is okay, instead of looking in ourselves to know that we are okay anyway, whether or not the world or the people around us acknowledge us. And even making a mistake doesn't negate the fact that we are okay, it just means that we made a mistake.
The mistake I made today (and have made nearly every day of my life that I can remember) was choosing to be disengaged because it seemed safer to not care about something than to care and be rejected. I was feeling very powerful and engaged and looking forward to a class I was going to, but when I got into the room I chose, pre-consciously, to look disinterested and to not talk. It was a 1000-level class and my assumption was that no one wanted to be there, most of the students were just taking it to fulfill a requirement, and they would hate me for being the "teacher's pet" or judge me for being a "loser" for being interested or "that bitch who always talks."
All of this went on in my mind and happened so quickly that I didn't notice it until my professor began to talk and I felt this awkward pain in my chest from wanting to ask a question but forcing myself to hold it in because that would crack my facade of being "cool." As soon as I became conscious of it, and how much I wanted to participate and engage despite mind-reading my peers and acknowledging the fears I had that they wouldn't like me, I changed the way I was sitting, began taking notes, and raised my hand. So maybe there are people in my class who have labelled me "that bitch who always talks," and maybe some think I'm a loser for being interested, but that doesn't matter to me so much as how fulfilled I felt from engaging and being vulnerable and leading the life I wanted to lead in the moment despite a possibly un-affirming world around me.