Growing up, I always imagined that I’d eventually become successful in life. Back then, I knew nothing about social anxiety. Actually, it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to fully understand why I am the way I am – and that it actually had a name.
Granted, I knew there was something different about me because I always struggled getting along with people. I knew I was shy, but I didn’t think a little “shyness” would eventually lead to the life I have now.
I really had high hopes for myself. I wanted to finish university, get an exciting, high paying job and really start living life. Little did I realize that my little “shyness” problem would ensure that I experienced nothing but failure, anxiety, and persistent hopelessness.
Even though my high school years were a nightmare, I suppose I did have an opportunity to turn things around once I completed university. However, by this time, my social phobia had evolved to the point where I, literally, couldn’t function. This was where my real struggle started.
As the years went on, I quickly realized that my life wasnt anything close to what I’d hoped it would be. I found myself giving up a good job and becoming isolated because I couldn’t handle being around people. So, instead of making $50,000 a year, I was struggling to pull in $20,000. Instead of being able to buy a house, I moved back home and then into a small bachelor apartment.
From the time I left high school, life was just one big disappointment after another. I had no friends, no girlfriend, no social life, and I was flat broke.
Even though I’m trying to get my life back on track, in many ways that ship has sailed. As I approach my 40s, I realize that there are many things that have been taken from me by SA.
Am I using social anxiety as a scapegoat? Maybe it’s just that I’m lazy and have no ambition. Well, I thought of that and I don’t think thats the case – I’m actually quite ambitious and I have a good work ethic – although, sometimes, I am weak-willed when it comes to fighting my social anxiety problem. I feel as though I should be tougher and that I am simply allowing this condition to ruin my life.
Unfortunately, most people are very two-dimensional when it comes to things like this. They look at my lifestyle and assume that I’m lazy and an underachiever. In some cases, I can actually feel the contempt when they start asking me how my career is going.
The average person has no idea how debilitating this condition can be. Somehow, we’ve all been taught that shyness is minor and something anyone can get over. It’s dismissed as an annoying negative trait and nothing more. There is no sympathy for someone that can’t get over their shyness problem – theyre simply not trying hard enough.
So here’s where the double whammy comes into effect. Not only does social anxiety suck all the fun out of life, but were also criticized by the rest of society for being lazy and complacent.
I want to be successful more than anything, but my fear seems a lot stronger than my ambition.