Living With Social Anxieties

I swore it felt like my life was the same as listening to someone reading in a classroom. I felt like my life was information being read to me and I would try to keep up and read along. I felt like a kid in the wrong class and everyone took turns reading the next paragraph. But the anticipation of my turn always made me uncomfortable. I would be so nervous that I had to count the number of heads of who would read before me, and along the way, I would lose my place in the chapter.
I would always lose my place; and I guess that was always a big fear of mine. I was always afraid of losing my place and when it was my turn to read, I wouldn’t know where to start.

This was me. This was how I felt. I was too afraid to be alone and too uncomfortable in crowds. I was too eager to fit in but too uncomfortable to be me. I swear the energy behind this was incredible.

And then the thoughts come.
They have voices too.
(You know?)

It’s not like I thought someone was talking to me or I heard something that wasn’t there. And to me, that was the crazy part. I knew the thoughts were only in my head, but they wouldn’t stop. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t shake them. As a matter of fact, the thoughts never stopped, and there I was again, sitting like that kid in the wrong classroom (or living like a kid in the wrong body or the wrong world) and somehow, I would lose my place again.

God, I used to think to myself.
Why can’t I just follow along like everybody else?

I was asked about my social anxieties. I was asked about my fears and discomforts. And I can’t say that I still feel the way I did, —but I can say the thought machine still spins out of control sometimes.
I had to learn how to cope. I had to learn how to interact and how to regulate myself. And some days, the thought machine spins out of control. I find myself caught up in a crazy thought process that calculates figures and misinformation

I have to breathe.
I have to literally tell myself to “Stop!”
And I have to say this out loud.
This way, I shock the system.

The way I see it intellectually, I understand. Emotionally, it’s like I’m that kid again. And that kid is scared. The way I see it is that kid needs attention, which is why I have to interact with that side of my thought process as sternly as an adult would address a child during a tantrum.
The word “Stop” has meaning.
Think about this.
Back when we were kids, we would horse around, but when someone like The Old Man or Mom would yell, “Stop!” this changed the direction of my attention.
This is why when my mind spins too fast, I literally say the word, “Stop!”
I say it so that the little kid in me is redirected and the attention is distracted.

I do not know if I am alone or if my social anxiety is like anyone else’s. I can say that I am grateful to have come this far. I can say that I’ve improved. I can say that I’ve worked on my coping skills; however, I can also say that times can be tough and emotions can distract me from truth.

I appreciate the fact that I am a work in progress.
I think we all are . . .
So why do I expose this?

I expose this to take away from anxiety’s strength. I expose this to empower myself so that I overcome my anxiety instead of my anxiety overcoming me.
Sometimes, I swore my mind ran off in a million directions. It was painful for me.
I could never sit still because I never felt comfortable in my position. It’s tiresome to be like this. It’s frightening too.
But . . .
I can say that once I decided to work on my depression and once I decided to work on my social anxieties, and once I dedicated myself to improvement, the fear just wasn’t so bad. And that freed up a lot of energy to do things like say, follow along without worrying if I would lose my place


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