Social anxiety

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I have now applied for a beginners course in Japanese! Soo excited about it 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been wanting to learn Japanese since I was about 10 years old. There was just one problem: Social anxiety (Social anxiety is the fear of involuntarily becoming the center of attention , or in other words: being judged, standing out or embarrassing yourself. It’s the feeling as though everyone is staring at you or the self-consciousness that keeps you from relaxing and enjoying the moment. Now, we’re all afraid of making a fool out of ourselves in public, but when the fear starts to prevent you from doing the things you want, you need so seek help). A lot of it. The idea of having to interact with strangers has been terrifying for as long as I can remember. I recall being quite young, maybe 8 or so and desperately wanting to learn how to use a bow, but decided not to because the fear was greater than my excitation.

There have been times when my anxiety hasn’t interfered much with my everyday life. I might have been unable to make phone calls myself, and so my mum had to do most of them for me. I dreaded oral presentations in school, just like everyone else I know.
It has prevented me from participating in the usual “social gatherings” teenagers are supposed to enjoy and attend, like parties and stuff. However, I’ve never really felt the need to hang out with people I don’t like and get drunk and listen to loud music and stuff, so I guess I never really felt like I missed out. Well, that’s not entirely true. I used to get very sad and upset about not being like others, not enjoying the things they did and honestly not even being able to comprehend what could be so fun about parties and stuff like that. I had absolutely no clue what it was everyone seemed so excited about.

But there have also been times where just imagining leaving my room, let alone leaving my house, was enough to make me cry hysterically. I was very depressed at the time, I was home from school for weeks if not months. My therapist suggested that I should try dance therapy. You know what I did? You, guessed it. I broke down in tears, sobbing uncontrollably. It was really bad. My parents paid for a year of yoga class. I attended like.. 3-4 sessions. I was also in an advanced math class, which was held in a different school with students from all over town. When the only person I knew there quit, I had to too. I simply could not do it. It didn’t stop there: I could not even talk to people online. I was so afraid that I couldn’t even type up a message and send it. It’s almost embarrassing to admit it. Of course, not talking to others only made my fear worse. It truly is a viscous circle. (Then again my social anxiety actually lead me to meet my beloved boyfriend, but that’s another story)

The thing that saddens me the most now is not how bad I felt, but how much I missed out. How truly disabled I was. If it hadn’t been for that crippling fear, I could have learned the things I’ve always wanted to, I could have explored the world and made new experiences and mistakes to learn from. I could have hung out more with my friends or made new ones. Instead I was trapped in my own room.

Where everyone else have their memories from growing up, I have just a blank space. And it pains me to see how common social anxiety seems today, because I know that they will feel what I feel now: regret.

I’m much better now. I’m able to go to school, I can attend gym classes by myself, I can take Japanese classes. Of course I still have good days and bad days, but now I try to defy my irrational thoughts and fears so they won’t grow into something bigger. I’m starting to live life fully, slowly but I’m getting there. I can never get back the years I lost on being afraid, but I don’t want to waste my time on regretting the past so I guess my only option is to look ahead and move forward.

If you are suffering from social anxiety, know that you are not alone. Seek help or talk to someone  else about it (could be a friend, parent, a counselor at school or people on forums or me if you like).

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