Being social and interacting with others has always been a complicated subject for me. Most of the time I feel like I’ve got the hang of it. But just when I feel like I know how to have a normal interaction, I do something wrong and embarrass myself. The worst part is that I never know what I am doing wrong, and everyone I ask is too nice to tell me the truth. Having both anxiety and insecurity is not a fun thing to go through, especially in a school setting. You’re always worried about the little things, wondering if there is something about you that other people don’t like. Always worrying even when the situation does not warrant any worry at all. So when I mess up, it latches to the back of my mind where it inevitably stays, tormenting me, reminding me of how I’m not like everyone else. The only way for me to forget my worries is to replace them with others, filling the void that is left, never allowing me to feel confident in myself. However, the most monumental of social screw-ups never manage to be shaken loose, because I’m always worried that the other person (or people) hasn’t forgotten either.
School is the worst place for someone like me to have anxiety and insecurity.
School used to be a place where I could go to be with other kids my age and interact with them, with the occasional lesson learning of course. It was always a refreshing feeling to leave my family, who were either too young or too old to relate to, and hang out with kids who I could get along with with general ease. But somewhere down the line, between Elementary and High School most likely, that was changed for me. School had now become a place where it had become increasingly difficult for me to become friends with people, and harder still to understand how to interact with them. Now, grades and learning had become easier to me than basic human interaction. Grades took precedence over friends. Try as I might to fix my situation, overcome my fear of sticking out, and try to blend in with everyone else, the outcome always remained the same. I would always leave feeling dumb, always going over the situation in my head, trying to see where I went wrong and imagining what would have happened if I had done something different, changed something about the situation. You don’t know how hard I’ve wished that my powers of foresight were as strong as my powers of hindsight.
There has not been just one big moment where this has occurred, but countless shorter instances instead. Most of these instances occurred in, or around a school setting. They happen mostly when I try to engage in polite conversation with someone. I don’t want to stand out, so I try to engage other people and interact with them. If only I knew what was really wrong with how I talk to people, I could better learn from my mistakes and prevent these things from happening again. I’ve considered just eliminating the problem by not talking at all unless someone talks to me. If I don’t interact with people, I don’t have to worry about how I seemed to them. But of course, this is not the answer. It would look stranger for me to be antisocial and introverted, isolating myself from other human interaction, than it would look for me to be socially awkward and become anxious about myself.
I have tried to learn from my mistakes, sometimes making the same ones again and again. But I have never given up on trying to connect with others. As tough as it may be, I know that the reward will be well worth the trials and failures that lay in the path to becoming more socially confident in myself.