in Food for Thought

Being free

I am at my most bearable in familiar surroundings with 2 or 3 friends; then I am free, am not forced to be continually attentive and cooperative, but can take part in what’s going on if and when I feel like it, as much or as little as I wish; no one misses me, no one is made uneasy by my presence. If there is a stranger present who happens to get under my skin, all the better, for then, on borrowed strength, I seem to be able to become quite animated. But if I am in an unfamiliar place, among a number of strange people, or people whom I feel to be strangers, then the whole room presses on my chest and I am unable to move, my whole personality seems virtually to get under their skins, and everything becomes hopeless.

Franz Kafka