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848 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  JezebellaX
It's really starting to cripple my daily life,and I don't know what the fuck to do.I can't even be somewhere where I need to be,i.e the school cafeteria to EAT,because there are too many people,so I'm coming home starving.I'm worried that this is gonna carry onto when I'm out of high school,and I'm working in a place that requires a ton of social interaction.I would get fired immediately.I just want to let loose,and really be myself,but I just can't do it.Any advice appreciated.
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It will get better over time. It was not until I was 27 before I felt comfortable talking to a complete stranger. Best suggestion find someone you have something in common with and become friends with them. After you have gotten comfortable being around them, go to lunch together and repeat until you have four to five people you are comfortable being around.

It usually takes me a month of being around someone until I actually stop listening to them and start talking. So be prepared to spend a year working on it until you have enough people to surround you at lunch that protect you from dealing with others.
Confronting people can be bad sometimes, but remember that its NEVER as bad as you imagine it will be. Oh, and try not to pay to much attention to the thought of yourself (particularly to the thought that other people are paying attention to you) when you have to interact with people. Think of yourself as a character in a movie, that way it doesn't matter what happens to you. Remember, most people are too busy worrying about being judged to actually judge anyone.
I know what you mean. In the beginning of college I got into the habit of eating lunch in my car because it beat sitting alone in the crowded cafeteria. But when you're shy putting yourself out there is always scarier in your head than it is in real life. The first step is the hardest, so to speak. From my second year of college on I also had a job that required a ton of social interaction: I was a receptionist in a salon (so not only was there a TON of social interaction, but all of it was superficial and meaningless and sometimes the customers or even some of my coworkers were just plain nasty). Although I hated that job I will say it probably did some good by forcing me to be more social and since I worked there through most of college socializing got easier because I got to know my coworkers and the customers better. So working in a setting that forces you to be social might actually be good for you, especially if the job deals with a business or set of tasks that you enjoy because that will keep you motivated and give you some common ground with coworkers.

Also keep in mind that college is very different from high school. In college you'll be exposed to people from all different backgrounds pursuing different interests instead of just being stuck with the same kids you've known your whole life. You'll have more opportunities in college to meet likeminded people. And everyone will be in the same boat as you socially because pretty much everyone will be starting their social lives from scratch and trying to adjust to a new environment.

I took a class on anxiety in college and my professor was a clinical psychologist who did part time work with socially anxious people on the side. He taught us about how social anxiety is treated and how social anxiety is pretty much a self-fulfilling prophecy - the more worried you are about appearing socially awkward, the more awkward you look. For example when having a conversation people with social anxiety are so focused on what they are gonna say next that they completely miss what the other person was talking about, so when their time to repsond comes they don't know what to say because they don't know what they're responding to. Also because they're not really listening they appear disinterested, which is offputting to the other person. For people with that problem a psychologist would treat them by having them practice listening and just responding without mentally planning their responses so that they can see how much more natural a response is when you don't overthink it. The psychologist would probably also ask the people you talked to to give feedback on how they perceived you during the conversation to give you a more realistic view of how you appear to others, so you would know that you didn't actually appear as nervous as you thought and what you said wasn't as stupid as you thought. And they'd have you keep in mind that the worst case scenario is someone doesn't like you, but what does that do to you really? Does someone you barely know thinking a bad thought about you really do anything to you, especially if you don't even know they're thinking it? I still have moments of shyness sometimes, but then I just remember that appearing awkward to some random person for a few seconds or minutes of my life doesn't matter and I get over it.
I second that it will get better with time. I absolutely hated high school. Just walking down the hallways was torture sometimes. I used to avoid the cafeteria and busy places too. I hid in the hallway and ate by myself and would sometimes even sit in for noon detentions when I didn't have one, just because I knew there was a teacher there to supervise, should anyone say anything to me. The fear paralysed me and I would often panic. So, I can empathize with you. I was in the same situation about five years back. However, my confidence has increased (though, just slightly) and I feel more comfortable talking to most people. I would say that things have definitely improved and I'm sure that they will improve for you too.

If I were to offer you any advice, I would suggest not to think too much about your future. Who you are right now and your current struggles do not dictate who you will be or what your struggles will be in the future. Don't give those struggles and worries that power over your life. I don't see anything wrong with dreaming about the future and making goals to aim for, though worries and judgments on yourself do nothing to improve your current situation or your future.

Right now, your worries are interfering with your health. They are dictating whether you eat or not and therefore you have given them a lot of power. When something interferes with your life like that, it is often a bigger problem than you may realize. You may want to talk to a trusted friend or find a counsellor to work through this with. I know that when I don't eat, I get more tense, irritable and anxious, so if you're anything like me, skipping lunch is not helping you at all.

Don't worry about struggling to get a job if you don't need to find one immediately or are not currently looking for one. I'm sure you have enough worries to deal with in the present time. And you do not need to work in a place that requires a ton of interaction. Just remember that people do mature. I have struggled with this myself and often avoid social situations, just because my experiences during my school years traumatized me. I sometimes avoid social interaction because I feel like people are going to behave the same way that my peers did in high school. Don't become like that.

The people you encounter in the workplace will not all be like your high school peers. They will not be as immature, self-centred and judgmental. When you get into the workforce, it's business mentality and no one really cares about petty things.

What you can do right now is try to practice talking to people. As Checkmate and 3pnt1415926535897932384 said before me, you will often think that others' reactions will be worse than they will actually be. You may think that people hate you or think you're weird, when in fact they may not and most likely do not actually think that. You'd be surprised how many people notice you and/or admire you.

If you talk to someone and the interaction goes badly, don't automatically think it's your fault. Some people are just jerks and what they say and how they treat you does not say anything about who you actually are as a person.

Start small. Don't try to talk to a ton of people at once if it makes you panic and feel self-conscious. Start with little interactions and the more you practice and talk with other people, the easier it will get. But don't expect to become super extroverted overnight. Also, hang around people who "get" you. Don't hang around (spend large amounts of time with) people who are negative and critical of you. If you don't have anyone like that in your life, try to find some good, supportive friends. There's no point in having friends if you can't be yourself around them.
Social anxiety is the pits. I've been there to the point I was almost agoraphobic. I know folks that take meds for it and if that's the path you choose then fine, but I learned after many many many years that there is nothing to do but face your fears. Start out a little at a time. What helped me was taking on a different "role". I would watch someone who acted like they belonged and imitate them until I could get the heck out of the situation. If I need to eat at a crowded restaurant I pretend to be one of the folks who "belongs" and does not care that other people might see them. Before long you aren't faking it anymore and you realize you are being you, not someone else. Then you move on to working on the next social issue.
I'm terrified of crowded places. It feels like people are looking at me. But after facing my anxiety I can be in a crowded place. I'm still not comfortable but now I can talk to people and do what I need to. I learned this trick and put it in practice when I was getting my degree in Sociology. Just take on a role. I can honestly say that I kick butt in public speaking and small social events, as long as they don't last so long that I feel completely drained. When I meet people they will argue that I am an extrovert. It's not until we have the "why don't you ever want to come to the parties," talk that people realize I am an Introvert. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.
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I found deep ending it was the best way - going on camp for five days with no friends. But having a good base group of people (maybe 3?) you can talk to comfortably and at least one who's a confidant and support - could be a parent or family member - when not in the deep end. Also just having a sort of anchor to reality - letting yourself express insecurities or negative thoughts to people, which they can highlight as highly irrational.

I always seem to find it's the things I pretty much take for granted; the thoughts and feelings that feel most normal and rational, and pass in my head almost without me noticing - like a silent, almost unconscious undertone, or pricipals guiding the way I view myself - that have been the greatest signs of deep rooted irrationality and problems.

But if you don't have that foundation of people, bit by bit, day by day seems to be the next suggestion - this is the gentler option, and a good way to slowly build and reinforce confidence if you're...there yet.

A councillor probably wouldn't go amiss - but a friend you can let yourself go to is a cheaper, and more permanent option.

Trying to be positive really is a good thing. 'I would get fired immediately' You need to start challenging those assumptions; think of good things about yourself - you're a sweet girl, attractive, you said it yourself; you want to let loose and be yourself; you're not not worth their time - if you could overcome the shyness you could have fun with people. You're definately worthy of having fun and being their company.

When you start work try, if you're up to being with people, physically (in the same room) say something, anything to get conversation going, it doesn't have to be profound or interesting; ask them general small talk-y questions, compliment them (lightly), ask them how long they've worked there for. Maybe open up a little about being shy - communicate to them you want to bridge any gaps with them, you're just scared. This depends on the relationship you have with work people though. You can just casually say you're nervous about this being your first job; something to highlight a feeling of vulnerability. Even ask advice.

Enter with a smile, carry on smiling, give eye contact if possible.

I don't know though, you might favour other ways of gaining confidence. Perhpas you could set yourself daily/weekly challenges.

Also try to eat at lunch time even if it's not in the cafeteria - can you bring packed lunch?
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Thanks,you guys had some really helpful suggestions.I think what I have the most trouble with when talking to someone I just met,is keeping up the conversation.I'm fearful that I would have no clue what to say to keep it going,and then it becomes awkward,and then the other person is going to think I'm a nub.It sounds so easy to say,don't think about what you're going to say,just go with it.

But,there have been times when I have just said what came to mind immediately,and I found a much more pleasant reaction from other people.I will try to do that more often,and challenge myself by participating in activities I would have otherwise found mortifying.Again,the advice from all of you was very helpful,thanks.
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