Socializing is hard work – at least it is for a guy like me. Perhaps, one day, as I gain more experience, it wont seem so daunting. But for now, each and every social encounter takes a tremendous effort. Yet, where would I be if I didnt try?
Without making an effort, Id never make any progress with my social anxiety at all. For me, effort could mean anything from simply leaving the house, to initiating conversations, to asking a stranger for the time, or returning a friendly gesture (smile).
Whatever effort you decide to make, keep in mind that sometimes you have to take the first step. In an ideal world, it would be nice to have people approach you and strike up interesting conversations. However, I suspect that there are many individuals out there with the same self-esteem problems and fear of rejection.
As with most things in life, nothing substantial will come to those who expect something for nothing. People will be more than willing to ignore someone that refuses to make an effort. You have to push yourself to communicate with people, or you will be left behind to exist in the background of society – alone, afraid, and feeling sorry for yourself.
I often asked myself how society could be so cruel. Couldnt they see that I was struggling? Where was the compassion?
Unfortunately, what you get back from society in terms of how you are treated has very little to do with how you expect to be treated. Because I was shy, withdrawn, quiet, and submissive, I believed that people would (should) cut me some slack and be a little kinder and more attentive.
Perhaps that was true when it came to my family; however, the average person had no way of knowing me. And even if they did know about my social anxiety, it was highly doubtful that they would treat me better than anyone else.
I dont know why I expected to be coddled and treated special. But I somehow felt that, because of my condition, I could make a feeble effort to connect with others, start conversations, kindle friendships, and everything would be ok – after all, I had social anxiety – they would understand.
I always waited for the other person to make the first move. This was likely caused by fear of rejection; however, Im sure that laziness was a contributing factor as well.
Of course, when I didnt get the response I wanted, I became even more depressed and resentful of others. This was, and still is, a very immature trait. Though I feel Ive made great strides in understanding why this way of thinking is so warped.
Is it any wonder Im still single?
So, without making a conscious effort to get out and mix it up (even though it was difficult), I would sit at home alone and isolated while society carried on. That was a fact of life and something that could not be changed. Once I accepted this, things got better for me – honestly.
Once I started making an effort to converse with others, smile, and show some genuine friendliness, I started getting some very positive results. Even to this day, I am truly surprised at some of the warm responses I get from people.
5 years ago, you would never have convinced me that this was possible – never. I was in such a victim state of mind that Im sure my outward appearance and negative vibes repelled just about everyone.
Mired down in a pool of self-pity, the entire world seemed like such a hostile place. At that time, I honestly didnt want to make the effort to connect with others because I was absolutely convinced everyone despised me and that the only attention I was capable of garnering was as the object of someone elses joke.
I was beaten before I even started.