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My Social Anxiety struck me as huge, unpleasant surprise.

I spent my childhood as fairly low key, low stress kid. Most of my emotional displays were quite muted relative to other children that age, which is not saying much. Even as my family moved around I was less adventurous than others and always had a much smaller circle of friends. I was different -in several substantive ways- but never in a way that I thought was inherently detrimental. In point of fact my best friend from elementary school developed low self esteem and became sad about what other classmates thought about him. I did my best at the time to empathize but I couldn't sympathize because I found the views of most other people to be irrelevant, if I bothered to notice them at all.

Now almost a decade later I come to find that if things have not been "exactly" reversed then the tables have at least been turned. My friend is quite popular and social concerns are for him a matter of excessive options. I on the other hand have experienced decidedly less personal growth in this department. I have long since fallen out of touch with all of my friends and either they or I have moved away from one another excepting my old best mate from elementary school who I still know as a friend.

My personal history causes chagrin but its not why I'm posting. At my friend's seventeenth birthday party a huge number of people invited themselves, on the order of 200 or so. The Circumstances are irrelevant, what shocked me was the anxiety that clamped down on me like an oversmall torso shackle. I couldn't start a conversation, or make eye contact, I couldn't stand or sit with confidence or ease. My identity as a social individual just evaporated. Anytime I thought to start a conversation I became afraid, not afraid of how others might respond but of having to interact. I never new this could happen to me. What was worse is that I attempted to self medicate with alcohol hoping for a change in my personality. Not only did it have no psychological effect it had a pronounced physiological effect, I could feel my body disobeying me I could see and feel that for every three steps forward I took I shifted a foot to the right and I couldn't do anything about it. At first it was novel but it quickly became frustrating and then I realized I was trapped like this unable to move or relax with a mind full a fear and a body that wouldn't listen, frankly I was terrified.

Now I face another surprise Social Networking sites leave me feeling deeply self conscious, the few pictures I have up leave me feeling embarrassed regardless of their content. I cant escape the sense that people are balking at them privately rejecting and judging me. Whats worse is that I can get in contact with old friends and acquaintances and I feel like I don't have enough to show the time apart as though they evolved and I stood still and remained the same. At one point just visiting facebook caused me a cold sweat and a quiet dread.


If you have a had and experience similar to mine or one that you deem relevant please don't hesitate to post it here. If you've gotten over something like this or have a suggestion for how to do so please post.

I realize that many of the people here have it far worse than I do, my sense of perspective isn't lost so I realize the relative smallness of my problem. I am in no way attempting to compete, I offer my support in what ways I am able and while can't always sympathize I do empathize.
 

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Hi there. I can kind of relate. Unfortunately I don't have anything helpful to contribute.

At secondary school, I had a group of friends in the first couple of years and everything was fine. But then when classes got split up in year nine, I drifted away from most of that group of friends as they made other friends, but I still had my one friend who was nearly as shy as me. Or so I thought. Basically we just had each other and spent most lunchtimes being loners together. So I came to rely too much on my friend and thought we were similar but she had friends outside of school and knew how to be a friendly person even if she was shy. So when it got to sixth form, she made friends and I didn't. I felt so excluded and out of it that I quit and went to the college but I ended up going back to sixth form the next year and still not making friends whilst my friend had friends and a boyfriend. She was still my only friend, having made no friends at college. Anyway. I felt she'd moved so far on, she had a part time job and the boyfriend etc. whilst I have never had a job, and I didn't know how to make friends. So I'd spend my lunchtimes alone in the library, feeling like a spare part and that my friend didn't want me. Several years later, she's still my only friend. I really appreciate her friendship, non existant as it may have seemed to be at times but now we're both 23. I have no job, no boyfriend no other friends, I don't go out anywhere. She's just bought a house with her fiancé and they're getting married in a year. I feel so left behind. The other day I went to see her house. I wouldn't have gone had I known her boyfriend, his dad and his niece would be there. And then his mum. Awkwardness. Fortunately, I don't have panic atttacks or anything. I just stood there staring at the walls and out of the windows wanting to go away. I kind of dread being bridesmaid at her wedding next year. I don't know how I could cope with all those people I don't know.

I hope I haven't bored you to sleep with all that.

As for facebook. I'm addicted to looking on it but I have taken just about all my pictures off of it. I didn't have many, and the ones I had I'd taken of myself or my dad had taken of my on a day out whereas it seems everyone else in their photos is having a good time. With other people. SO that really depresses me yet I keep going on it! I have a pitiful amount of 'friends'; just people who wanted to look like they had more friends. Then my friend has way more friends than me but what hurts the most about that is some of those are people from school who, as far as I knew, didn't know her any more than me. But it seems they must have remembered and liked her, whereas I am not nice and forgettable.

So I think that's kind of relevant? Try to keep away from facebook if you can. If not, try not to worry about your profile etc. I think most people are probably concerned about they appear and are self conscious about their pictures and profiles and are might be trying their hardest to make themselves look as successful as possible.

Hopefully, you can 'reverse' the situation again. I hope we all can beat social anxiety, or at least find ways to cope with it. :)
 
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