Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Hello! It's been a long time since I've posted. So many memories here, good and bad.
I'll write a brief summary of my experience with social anxiety.
During my time at uni my SA during my early twenties was so bad I could not maintain eye contact with people, I had only one friend, went to extreme lengths to avoid meeting people and saying an awkward hello, I had low retention of memory and failed multiple units of University. I found this website and met a few people from here and thought... 'hey! I'm not alone' and you know what.. it was good for a time. Thinking that others also felt the same anxiety meant that I was 'normal' in a small sector of society and I didn't need to fit in. I already fit in within that small community. It was an excuse to remain stagnant despite the misery.
Then I realised the one thing people had in common here, they are too self absorbed with their own problems to listen to others. I was no different. When despair was greatest it's easy to push people away without realising. It's easy to cut contact with potential friends when each person has their own problems to deal with. It's hard to connect when you feel no one understands.
I had spent maybe a year or two on this website and have no friends to show for it. Meanwhile I was drained from university and being around people I don't connect with. Somehow I came across a breaking point where I thought.. **** it, I don't care anymore. I don't care what people think of me.
It might seem like an easy thought but to truly believe in it is something else. Once I stopped caring I didn't feel anxious.. I didn't feel anything, I just existed and felt no need to make friends.
I started playing games and specifically MMOs, and had fun simply playing and meeting people naturally. It was the first time I had connected with people and even though it was entirely behind a screen I enjoyed the feeling of belonging to a community for once. I am still friends with some of them today and met quite a few of them in real life. Being behind a screen helped meeting these people as I enjoyed the interaction, without feeling the anxiety of facing them in real life.
The next few years after that I started working, nothing too eventful.. it was a job that involved talking to people everyday and only for a few minutes at a time. It was very good practice but since I don't really need to connect with patients it wasn't a huge challenge. Connecting with coworkers was a chore as I wasn't ready to completely open myself up to my past yet (I graduated late due to multiple failures and have a nonexistant real life social network? I wasn't proud of myself)
Slowly, very slowly, I made a few friends outside of work, not super close.. but enough that I started to feel.. almost normal. Aside from being a massive recluse.
I was still living at home and felt as if I wasn't living to my full potential, many family problems arose. And a year ago I decided to move to the opposite side of the world for two years! This is where things turned around, I met some friends whom I see on a regular basis and we've even travelled together multiple times. I have been to roughly a dozen countries so far since coming here and still counting. Through these new friends I also met some of their friends, people who come and go but that's fine because that's how life goes. I'm not socially anxious anymore but I'm still uncomfortable around new people and find that I'm a massive introvert sometimes, refusing to get to know new people because it's so draining, lol. Logging back into this site now I think back and reflect on how much I've changed, even if it's just a bit at a time, and I'm grateful. I'm still single but I'm happy that I'm able to do all this on my own. Independence is wonderful.
This post will probaly be buried over time but for anyone wishing to change my main advice will be:
-Stop caring about what others think of you and start caring about them(individually), when you understand others they.. in most cases.. well understand you. If they don't, then don't give up on humanity just give up on them(the individual).
-Take it one step at a time. And do it repeatedly so it becomes routine.
-Don't overthink, in fact don't think at all! just do it.
I hope this helps someone.
If putting things off is so easy why can't you put off procrastination?