I don’t normally post sad things like these, but I won’t be able to sleep until I write it all out. Feel free to click away.
Ever since I was young, everybody said that I was anti-social and just couldn’t make or keep friends. I don’t blame them, it’s all true even to this day. But I always knew that this was more than just a feeling of shyness because I actually feel anxious after any social encounters, which ranges from having a small group discussion to returning broken items to Walmart. I would then think about these interactions at night and beat myself up for not being good enough, funny enough, friendly enough, caring enough, not smiling enough… and the list goes on.
I initially ignored these thoughts because being ‘anxious’ in social situations didn’t make sense to me at the time. I thought I was just a weird kid. However, about two years ago, I saw a documentary that actually explained what was wrong with me. I immediately cried because it was like seeing a documentary about myself — I found out that, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been living with a mental disorder called Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
During the past year, I have exceeded my own expectations and came out of my shell a little bit. I got hired to part-time jobs. I was even appointed to take office on several organisations. I was proud of myself for once. With this, I thought that I would overcome SAD in no time. But turns out I was wrong.
When I first got into my part-time jobs and officer positions a year ago, I was excited despite of my SAD. But as time flies by, my performance started to plummet. Real bad. I stopped having the initiative to do tasks, I avoided going to organisation events (mostly by calling in “sick” or saying that I have exams the next day even though I don’t), I stayed quiet in meetings, and I even resisted going to them. The worst part is, people started to notice; and they thought I was lazy. I wasn’t… I swear. For some reason, I had the tendency to just stay at home and cry silently as much as I could, thinking about the things that I was just too anxious to do.
Obviously, nothing good came out of these. I started to lose friends and I felt like a total jerk. I was losing all motivation and I convinced myself that I was a loser because all my friends were excelling and progressing into better people. Plus, I wasn’t in any of my friend’s pictures because I never came with them to gatherings. I deactivated Facebook a couple of times thinking that I would feel better, but guess what? I never did. All of these outcome just made me even more anxious.
I’ve tried so hard to forget that I own a brain that’s literally ruining my life. I’ve tried so hard to be a great communicator by reading Dale Carnegie books, meditating, and creating self-affirmations every morning and night. None of them seem to make me feel better. For some weird reason though, I don’t mind public speaking. I don’t care what people think of my when I go up on stage. But my anxiety start to act up when I have to be in group discussions or in one-on-one conversations.
I am writing this tonight because I just recently got another anxiety attack; but I felt that this one was the worst after a long time. I couldn’t sleep because I was literally shaking just thinking about what I did today. I was misunderstood many times in one day by multiple people that I lost count. Made me feel like a terrible person. I also felt like I was just sitting still while the others were being active. I. was. useless. I tried hard, I really did.
When my friends talk about allergies or light physical illness, I would congratulate them in my own mind. They do not know how much worse a mental disorder is. At least physical illnesses are visible, making it usual for people to be concerned about them.. and then treat them. Mental disorders that nobody has ever heard of? “Just try harder,” they say. “Just go on and be more active,” they scold. I can only wish I had a broken leg instead of being afraid of social situations. I can only wish that these kinds of disorders were given the same amount of attention as physical illnesses.
It’s now 5AM and I’ve lost the ability to think. All I can try to do right now is try to sleep and hope things will get better tomorrow. Again, I don’t normally do these kinds of posts. I usually post happy stuff in an attempt to make myself and everyone else happy. I just can’t do it right now.
If you’ve had experiences relating to social anxiety, please let me know. Because I need help. I don’t know what else to do.
“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
– Van Gogh
Send some love to people today! 🙂
I have a friend. She wakes up at 5 in the morning and drinks coffee while reading some theoretical magazines that most people will never want to touch. She goes to class and works until she goes home unbelievably late at 3am. She sleeps and repeats the cycle everyday.
Let me tell you about her:
She is a wonderful, hard-working, outgoing, and poised woman. She never makes any mistakes. Her voice is monotone and she could solve any problem in the blink of an eye. A 4.0 GPA. Has many great friends and acquaintances. Many talents. Has won numerous awards. Everything goes well for her despite all the odds. She has great luck. She has no fears or insecurities. She faces everything with a straight face and with bravery. She’s met all expectations. Ultimately, she is the closest thing to “perfection” that I have ever seen. I would understand if a lot of people envy her.
I could go on and write a book about how perfect this friend of mine is. But then it dawned on me… She’s not human.
I’ve been friends with her for a few years. But when I talk to her, she never smiles or looks at me in the eye. When I tell her about something I thought was pretty shocking, she only replies: “cool.” She beats herself up real hard if she made a mistake, but she never apologises to anyone. She gossips about others who are doing better than she is. She gets angry and yells if I do something incorrect. Last but not least, even though I’ve known her for quite a while, I still don’t know what she’s insecure about. I don’t know her weakness or anything that makes her tick or concerned. I can’t make any emotional connections with her because there’s nothing in this world that makes her feel anything. I can’t find any imperfections in her because she’s so perfect in absolutely everything she does. I can’t comprehend her perfection.
I am not sure if this is because she barely sleeps at night or if this is her personality in general. But I know that she should really be working on being human and notice that other people are human as well. Perfection is not everything and don’t expect anyone else to be perfect.
Check out these quotes:
“God knows I’m not perfect, either. I’ve made tons of stupid mistakes, and later I regretted them. And I’ve done it over and over again, thousands of times; a cycle of hollow joy and vicious self-hatred. But even so, every time I learned something about myself”
― Misato Katsuragi
And my personal favorite:
“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyse vitality.”
― John Ruskin
I relate to these quotes a lot because I draw. When I was a little kid, I copied an image of spongebob and I would make EVERYTHING, including spongebob’s texture to look exactly like the image. Every line, shading, and color were exactly the same because I really wanted to impress other people. But then someone told me something that changed my life: “You don’t have to follow the image exactly, you know. Do things on your own, be creative, and see where it will lead you.” So that’s what I did, and I never looked back. When I draw or create music, I will do my own things without restrictions or expectations. I have learned how to embrace my own imperfections in art – sort of adding “my personal touch” to each of them. If you want a perfect drawing of something, just use tracing paper and see how much “creativity and expression” you get to do! I realised that if you want perfection, just let the computer do it; the computer will be happy to make copies of the same thing over and over again.
So, for goodness sake, don’t forget to be human! Remember that everyone else is human and it only make sense to befriend a human, not a robot. When you realise you’re human, you will get rid of the expectations of doing EVERYTHING right. Do something crazy, funny, and embrace who you are. If you made a mistake, admit it, accept it, and move on. There’s no need to beat yourself up with imperfections. We all have them. It’s just that some people are so caught up on being perfect that they never show it, making them SEEM perfect. But don’t be overwhelmed by that.
So go on out there and be yourself. Make your friends laugh and tell them about your stories. Treat them as humans because you are too. Don’t ever forget that.
Just a few days ago, I discovered something that had completely changed how I wake up and go to bed, and it’s nothing cliche like saying positive affirmations to yourself in front of the mirror every morning (because, well you can forget). It’s called the five minute journal (you can check it out at http://www.fiveminutejournal.com).
I am not marketing this product nor am I affiliated with the company in any way. But I am sharing this with you because the five minute journal encourages you to write what you are thankful for, what your affirmations are, and the great (little) things that happened on that day. I encourage you to check it out.
Ever since I made writing the journal a habit, I’ve gotten this mindset: stop focusing on the bad things! Appreciate even the smallest bit of happiness. If you only worry about the thorns, you will never appreciate the beauty of the rose.
Think about it: everyday, we always think about how awkward we talked to that guy/girl we liked, or how terrible the job interview went, or how tired we were but we still have to study for the finals at night (story of my life right now, high five college kids). But those things happen everyday. So why don’t we change our mindsets a little bit? Instead of thinking how negative the situation went, wasn’t it great that we got to talk with that guy/girl we liked? Weren’t we happy that we gave it our best shot in that job interview? Or aren’t we excited that since we’re going through finals, school is going to end in just a matter of days?
Notice here: the situations and events are the same — they are all just handled with different mindsets.
I am going to paraphrase what Simon Sinek, an inspirational speaker, said in one of his interviews:
When athletes perform, they never say that they are nervous – they are trained to say that they are excited instead. Get this: when we’re nervous, our adrenalin hormone increases and our hearts beat faster. When we are excited, our adrenalin hormone increases and our hearts beat faster. So why don’t we choose the excitement over the nerves?
Again, it’s the same exact stimulus, but they are all just handled with different mindsets! Happiness is definitely a choice. This, my friend, is the secret to happiness and the freedom of the mind 🙂