I don't think I was the worst case when reading some of the stories here, but back when I was dealing with SA as far as I was concerned I was the most socially inept person on the planet. I was always told I was quiet, I did have friends but we would always be classed as the nerds, I was bullied a bit, I would spend recess hiding in the toilet in high school sometimes and din't have girlfriends for the longest time.
At some in my twenties I decided I was going to deal with it. I joined a sports club, which was great because you wouldn't have to socialise all the time, you could also just focus on the sport. And I just started doing more and more social things, such as going on a skiing trip in uni, going on a camping trip to a campsite with a lot of young people and it was all pretty painful, but I started have moments of relative 'success'. Then half way through my twenties I decided to try and put an end to my 'problem' once for all. I signed up for a comedy course (where you had to perform in front of crowd), theater, dancing and went out as often as I could. I had a couple of friends I'd go out with, but I'd also go out alone. To really get rid of the anxiety I'd try things like saying ridiculous things to people and purposely try to get people to dislike me just to expose myself to the fear. It all got pretty weird. Anyway after having done that for 3 years I was probably more social than almost anyone.. I was dating a lot of women also. But the thing was; I was still not happy about myself. There were still a couple of people I knew that had even less fear than I did or even more success with the ladies and I actually experienced a couple of very real bouts of depression amidst all of this. Also despite being so social I would still out of nowhere 'regress' into my old socially anxious self. The whole thing was very strange..
At some point I settled down with a girl and got a steady job and stopped all the over the top socialising. I focused more on my job and spirituality. And surely some of my anxiety started coming back again. Like I'd become anxious while talking to the cashier at the supermarket and I would just think "how is this happening?! I've done the scariest things I could think of for three years and this still happens!???".
I would also all the time be working on the social anxiety still in the background. I'd always have some new gimmick in my mind that was going to cure it, but it never would.. I must've come up with hundreds of gimmicks, ranging from positive thinking, to affirmations, to mindfulness, to profound spiritual insights.. and nothing would really help. Like sometimes it would help for a while, but then it would just stop working. One of the gimmicks was also telling myself that there was nothing wrong with myself, but that also never fully worked.
Lately, after having some time to do nothing.. all of a sudden this feeling that I was actually okay just started coming up out of nowhere. And just this feeling of helplessness; like I had tried everything and I knew already that it would ultimately fail and I just got sick of that idea. The idea of doing all the social exposure things I did, just to be okay, started to seem ridiculous to me. And I started to hear how critical I was of myself.. and it's not like I overcame my problem or something, it's like I just became to lazy to try anymore.. to evaluate myself against my criteria for success. And it's just like everything isn't real anymore. Like I do not know what will come, but it's fine. And here's the thing, I was very relaxed and calm with everyone I spoke to the one day.. even with very senior people at my job that would usually make me nervous.. but the other day I met a bunch of new people and I felt rushed and nervous.. but I didn't care. I just stood there feeling that way and talked to them awkwardly and then left. And I didn't try to fix myself afterwards. I'm fairly sure that next time I see them it'll all auto-correct.
So like a lot of you here are saying; don't be so hard on yourself; there is no problem, there's nothing wrong with you.. we were all meant to be this way.
People that helped me on my track were:
- Eckhart Tolle
- Jiddu krishnamurti
- Random people I met along the way