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Hi everyone,

My name is Alex. Im 30 years old, even though I look like I am about 20 and act around that age sometimes too. I have suffered from anxiety for the past five years or so, never thinking that I may actually have a "disorder" because I have managed to live my life without crutches. I used to have plenty of friends, and masked my problems with a busy nightlife, alcohol, and marijuana...there were many blurred late nights and rough early mornings. In any case, I think quite a bit of my issues stems from my complexion and hair color. I am a "ginger", was bullied often in childhood because not only did I have red hair, but I was also pretty thin so the bullies knew I wouldn't fight back..I would just hold it all in. I learned to take the crap that people gave me, and internalize it...thinking maybe they had good reason to treat me horribly. I felt I wasn't good enough, I felt that my hair and freckles put me at a disadvantage against the rest of the kids.

Fast forward some 15 odd years and here I am, searching for answers as to why I avoid public contact, why I have SUCH a fear of public speaking or even speaking in small groups. I battle and battle, fighting off my internal demons, taking on new challenges such as the trip I will be taking with my girlfriend in just five months. I met my girl online (not sure if that is a common thing for those with SAD, but thats me!) and visited her in a whole different country, a pretty big challenge for anyone, let alone someone who suffers from social anxiety, but I did it. I did it to love and to be loved, to fight my fears, and to challenge myself to a headon collision between my comfort zone and my inner desires. My anxiety has worsened the past couple years since that time, and another trip to her country is coming up. This time it feels different, this time I meet her friends that speak a different language, this time I'm really out of my comfort zone. My heart says to be excited and remember the past times of how I overcame, but my head says this time is not the same as the last. The anxiety creeps in slowly and rears its ugly head once again. Anyways, hello to all of you and hope you don't mind me coming along with you all on this sometimes exhilarating, sometimes painful, journey called life.
 

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Are the events that unfold to us truly different, or do we all have the same opportunity marred with condemning perceptions? During the past seconds, I have followed your journey. Let us hope it doesn't end soon.
 

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Welcome, 1LifeToLove! :)
 

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I think that is awesome that you traveled to a different country all by yourself to meet someone. It is perfectly normal to be nervous to go back, especially to meet her friends. In fact, any normal person would be nervous! Don't be so hard on yourself and once you get over there, I'm sure your nervousness will subside.
 
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