Social Anxiety Is Causing Me To Miss Out On Life

Hi all, well I too have social anxiety. It is pretty scary putting all this out there, please be supportive and kind. Sorry it's kind of long.

I first noticed problems socializing with others right around the 6th grade. At that time I had a lot of friends, but I started noticing that I felt left out a lot, it was nothing they did, I just started feeling awkward and distant from them. Then my family moved to Arizona, and I found myself in a foreign world trying to make a new start. And that is when my anxiety started to be debilitating. Through junior high and high school was never able to make any friends, I couldn't give presentations without having a panic attack, I had crushes on boys but I was unable to act on them, much less even speak to a guy I liked, I didn't participate in class, and I ate lunch alone every day. School was torture for me much of the time. Throughout some of the 6th and 7th grade I would skip school all the time and I wanted to drop out. No one understood because I couldn't express how I felt or what I was dealing with. My family thought badly of me during that time. In the eighth grade I found myself living in Texas, another change. I ended up being bullied every day by these girls who rode my bus, so that put me off to a bad start right away. Their purposless hatred has stayed with me for years, I'd like to think it doesn't affect me anymore, but the truth is I'm not completely sure of that. When I was in high school I saw a commercial on tv about an anti-anxiety medication that described the symptoms I was having. That is when I first realized that what I was experiencing was social anxiety. It helped to know that this thing was a real problem and that there were other people out there like me, but at that time there was nothing I could do about it. My family was not and still isn't into the idea of therapy or counseling. So I didn't feel like I could go to them or anyone else and ask for help. So I just lived with it.

Growing up I believed that though I had a crappy life, when I graduated high school and went to college things would be different. And they were to some extent, but not the way I thought they would be. Freshman year I joined a club and found a few friends, one really good one. As far as dating goes though, I did not make any progress (this is a part of my life that really bothers me). Also I missed out on a lot of the typical college experiences that most people have. I had some good times in college but then college ended and I found myself right back where I was before.

I was stuck, when living at home for half a year. I don't know what it is, but being at home I feel like I have no control over my own life. My parents have not helped me to get a driver's license, to this day, they just don't seem to beleive it's important or that it's not their responsibility. So when living at home I find myself completely dependent on them and with basically no control of my own life. People who can drive don't realize what a wonderful thing they have been given. I wish I could say that I had a friend who would teach me but I never did.

I made a great achievment of getting accepted into grad school at A&M university. I was excited but also extremely nervous before I ever even set foot on the campus, grad school seemed terrifying to me. But I thought i would get over that once I got there. As it turns out not so much. The next year of my life would make me question who I was and where I was heading in life. The atmosphere in graduate school was overwhelming. There was so much expectation and pressure. And from the get go I felt very out of place and like I didn't belong there. There was very much a requirement of being a good communicater and public speaker. No one understood the reason why I was so quiet. Some people even thought it was because I was stuck up and rude. Very quickly my peers and professors took a disliking to me. The other students especially. I would overhear things like, "she thinks it's cool not to talk," "she's crazy," "what is she doing here." This was a bad environment to be in and totally sapped away my confidence. It made things worse. On top of that I was studying something I knew nothing about and had no experience with. I tried to convey this to my advisors, I straight up said, I have never taken a class on this subject before. But it was like they didn't hear me. They assured me it would be fine and told me to start out in an advanced graduate course. Of couse that didn't work out too well. In the spring I had to give my first presentation on my thesis topic. I was having trouble and I was not well prepared, along with my anxiety, the whole thing was a monumental disaster. I stuttered, I was shaking, I couldn't remember what I had to say, the whole class was meanwhile writing a critique of my presentation ability and I knew it was bad. The pressure and the nerves were too much. That night amid all the stares of my classmates, I walked out of campus and I knew then and there I wasn't coming back.
I had been thinking seriously about quitting for a while before this, the atmosphere was bad, I had no support, and my heart wasn't in the subject anymore. But I told myself I'd get to spring break and then use the time off to really think about the situation. Thanks to anxiety it didn't go so well. I freaked out that night, went home, the next day I skipped class and work with only an email to my boss that said I wasn't feeling well, the same thing the next day. I just couldn't face those people again. Two days after that night I sent emails to my boss and my advisor, telling them both I quit. Not the right way to do it, I know, it had just come to that point.

I was terrified, my life had no direction. I did not know where I was headed. Of course my boss and professor were not willing to leave it at that. My advisor said he didn't like it but ok. My boss called me in to work and had a "talk" with me. I ended up agreeing to work through the summer and finish one class to avoid financial aid problems. BTW I worked for the university. It was probably what I had to do but it didn't help me much. Having to walk those halls and still go to that office, and be around those people was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Though I think perhaps it made me a stronger person.
In the fall my job had ended and I couldn't find a new one so I had to move home. The experience I went through finally made me see that I needed to talk to someone or my life would never change.

I am happy to say that now I am almost through my first year at a new graduate program, studying a subject I love and can really be successful at. That part of my life is improving a lot. Other areas not so much. I still have no friends here and to this day I have only ever been on one bad date, I have never even been kissed. It's really embarassing to say that but I realize it will never change if I keep it to myself. I have started counseling for my problem, it is slow going, but I am starting to make some internal progress. Still my life is not what I wish it to be.

I'm almost 26, I have no love life to speak of, no friends, no job, I can't drive, I feel isolated and lonely most of the time. I am not giving up but I wish I could get to where I want to be faster. I find myself feeling bored alot. I want adventure in my life but I don't know where to find it. I can't join a club like before because the people would not be my own age. I can't go out and go places because I have no transportation. I don't know where to meet people because I don't drink and I am not into the whole bar scene. I have gotten to a place where I am ready to take action in my life but I just don't know how. I wonder if anyone else relates to this feeling.

My biggest worry is that in a bad job market my anxiety, lack of work experience, and lack of transportation is going to keep me from getting a job when I graduate and I will end up living with my parents, back in an enviroment which has hindered any personal growth for me. I worry that I will just be stuck. Of course worry is the hallmark of anxiety sufferers but these seem like real concerns to me and I don't know what to do about them.

My wish in life is to find love and friends who will support my personal growth, find many adventures, do what I love for a living and in my spare time. And to just stop missing out on life. I try not think too much about the time I've lost, I try to tell myself that one day soon I will make up for all I've missed and I know if I can do that, all this will be worth it. But of course sometimes I can't believe it. But better late than never I say. I'm just trying to have faith that it will all happen for me too.

Anyway, in the effort to put myself out there, even virtually, here I am on experience project, sharing my story. I have to tell you it feels both terrifying and exhilerating.
deleted deleted
Apr 6, 2012