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Hi, I'm ClintHardwood, and I'm an occasional visitor of this forum. I have suffered from social anxiety for around 8 years, and still experience it; however nowhere near as often. This is a brief guide to the stages of social anxiety (according to me).

Stage 1 - The realization
- That random point in social anxiety where you realize, ****, I don't have anyone to talk to! You start to wonder why - and whenever you try to interact with others you are met with failure. This stage can take anywhere from days to decades to get to. Obviously, everyone on this forum is at or past this stage.

Stage 2 - Denial
- When wondering why you have no friends, you may just tell yourself "I don't want any friends", "I don't like socializing" or my favorite "I wasn't trying to make friends!" You attempt to prove to yourself that you can be social whenever you want, given you put in the effort.

Stage 3 - Acceptance
- You accept that you have social anxiety disorder. You may feel like crap because you believe you are inferior to others, because of your handicap.

Stage 4 - The decision

Stage 4a - You choose not to change
- I am who I am and there is no point in trying to change because I will always be my (depressed, shameful, different, anti-social) self. The chances of breaking out of this stage are slim, and you will most likely stay the same for the rest of your life :sigh. If you eventually decide to change you will proceed to Stage 4b(Note: this gets harder the longer you've been in stage 3.).

Stage 4b - You choose to change
-I am going to try my best to be social. I am willing to put in the effort to change myself and who I am in order to overcome this condition :D.

Stage 5 - Making a plan/ Brief period of super awesomeness
- You make a plan; talk to and befriend everyone, try to be cool, be confident etc.

- This part of the stage may or may NOT happen. For the next day or two, you will be super socially confident and find that conversation is easy. Your body language will be perfect, etc. This happens because of a mix of adrenaline, anxiousness, excitedness and even more adrenaline. This proves that you CAN be super awesome, everyone can!

Stage 6 - It won't be that easy
- You fall back into your anti-social ways. You realize that in order to overcome social anxiety it will take months, or years. It's not an overnight thing. You re-approach your social anxiety problem and make a more realistic plan then, "talk to everybody nonstop, etc.)

Stage 7 - Starting from scratch
- You find that little bit of courage to start a conversation or rather, someone starts a conversation with you. They find it super awkward and weird. You avoid eye contact, may or may not have slurred speech, awkward body language, etc.

Stage 8 - Improving, little by little
- Every once in a while you make small breakthroughs. Not every day, maybe not even every week. But you still try to have human contact, as often as you can muster up the courage. You will either make friends that are neutral to you and use you as a backup friend to talk to when no one else is around, avoid you, or friends for the rest of your life at this point.

Stage 9 - Long road ahead
Stage 9a - You realize there is a long road ahead of you and give up. Return to Stage 4a.
Stage9b - You realize that, even with all the contact you made, you still suck at socializing. Seriously.

Stage 10 - Getting better
- You are making friends. Occasionally people ask you to hang out. Your body language still sucks, you have some confidence in yourself (mostly false confidence), and you rely heavily on the other person to talk in conversation.

Stage 11 - 50% of the way there
- It's been almost a year (for many people) and you still have many problems with socializing. But, alas, you have come a long way! You can hold a conversation with select people, you are shy sometimes (yes, sometimes!), you have a decent amount of real confidence (Fake it till you make it) and you have many acquaintances. You may or may not have a social circle at this point, it depends on your age and lifestyle.

Stage 12 - ?????
- This stage, you have to figure out for yourself.

That concludes the guide for now. This is a rough draft, and I will probably get around to making it sound more professional soon. However, if you have any questions about my personal experience at any stage, or questions about your development, feel free to ask! I WANT you to ask. Criticism on my guide is appreciated.
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