Independence is trait that I have made a conscious effort to maintain all my life. As a child, I would find interest in superheroes with natural abilities instead of gadgets because their power was from within. During my teenage years I wanted to be a one man band. I had a natural talent with music that allowed me to sing at a young age and in an effort to eliminate a need for other people, I learned to play guitar and harmonica. When I went to school for broadcasting I had the idea that I could record and produce my own music to provide an outlet to become famous. In retrospect, I was a braying jackass that probably needed my teeth kicked in because I wanted friends, popularity, and to prosper without any interaction from anyone else. Although all of that is in the past, I think that this lone ranger is ready to take his mask off for all to see.
Over the course of my journey for better mental health I have continued to take challenges by the horns on my own. Some days I can throw my problems out and move on and other days I am trampled like the rodeo clown who takes his smoke breaks in the barrel. During all this however I have noticed a constant that doesn’t waver very much. Social interaction actually seems to help me and I can’t do this alone. Yes, you just read that correctly and I was just as shocked as you may be.
I began to notice the difference after beginning my medicine. Despite being a former musician, my social skills have never been very good. I was the nervous skinny guy who never said much and didn’t speak his mind if it meant someone getting offended or upset. After I started taking my medicine I began to notice that over time I had a desire to begin speaking my mind and initiating conversations with people. I began to build better relationships with my coworkers and speak up about problems instead of letting them smolder under my skin. The crazy thing is that I feel that it actually made an impact in both my work and personal life. Things I suggested began to get taken seriously, my opinions are requested, and I had inspiration to start this blog. Despite a few bad days, overall I feel much better as a person because of opening up and developing friendships.
What does this mean presently? Lately it has meant that I have been finding the courage to face triggers of my social anxiety. I have been making plans to go out with friends and keeping them and developing plans with my wife to cross things off my bucket list like going to concerts and spending money on experiences instead of things. I have opened my Facebook page to the public in order to meet new people and new readers who go through the same things that I do. With that said, I hope to meet you someday if you find me out there! I am also gradually learning to deal with triggers within my family by attempting to say what I really feel without fear of confrontation. It is a slow work in progress but in due time, I feel that I can fix some bridges with old friends and family that I have neglected through the years.
So how can this relate to you? I want to challenge you to try and talk to someone at random. It doesn’t have to be anything too personal, but just something to initiate a general conversation with a new person who you don’t socialize with often. You don’t have to leave your comfort zone if you feel your anxiety take the reigns but if you are prone to that happening, I want for you to become aware of the anxiety on a deeper level. If you are ready to change and open up about it, take the steps you feel are necessary to remain comfortable while working on it, whether it’s seeking help or just simply taking a few deep breaths. You may be surprised how much stronger you are than your fear.