I don't know anything but paranoia as a way for a brain to work.
Not like believing in weird over-the-top conspiracies by the government or on behalf of the government and all of that. Is paranoid even the right word for that?
"Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs concerning a perceived threat towards oneself."
Emphasis mine. And admittedly, I took that off the Wikipedia definition, so I can't speak to its authority.
When I was a child, and for quite some time, although I couldn't say what age range exactly, I was convinced that there were only a limited number of people in the world... I believe I started with the notion that it was around a hundred, enough that you wouldn't recognize everyone twice even if you saw them again, but that was why some people looked familiar or reminded you of other people. I would eventually up that to enough people to fill a football stadium, as I had been to full football stadiums and seen that many people at one time.
Now, that part is perhaps overly imaginative, but fits with a normal mind trying to explain the world around itself.
I, however, was sure that this group of people, the entirety of all existence, was all an elaborate conspiracy - although I didn't necessarily yet know the word - to cause me embarrassment.
So, yes, I've always had ego issues.
I've also always had issues with embarrassment. Other people have heights or snakes. I have embarrassment.
I think that's ultimately why after spending my entire childhood in one acting group or another, some quite expensive and excellent, I never did get good at it. I could never give that kind of honest commitment in front of a group. I could walk out in front a group of people with my pants down and pudding on my face, but if it's possible that even one person won't understand that I'm in on the joke, then I couldn't... So, in practice, I can't actually do it.
This also means that I'm vastly more sensitive to the idea of embarrassing others than other people are. When I was something like five, I asked my Aunt Charlene why she kept her peanut butter in the refrigerator. Some part of me was probably thinking a judgment, but I don't believe I in any way expressed this. Suffice to say, I still occasionally remember this with great regret of the possibility that I may have caused her embarrassment.
It turns out that a few things have happened between then and now that may have also potentially caused people around me embarrassment. In many cases in more extreme ways than whether a five year old boy thought your peanut butter storage methods were foolish.
My life will never not be weird, will it?