“Just go up to them and say hi.”
“Talk to him as if you’re talking to me.”
“Why don’t you just make small talk?”
“Why are you always on your phone?”
“Go make some friends.”
These are some of the things my family/friends tell me when I ask for advice on how to talk to people or when they feel like I’m isolating myself from others on purpose. Ever since I was little, it has been hard for me to make small talk, especially with strangers.My mother would have to yell out from the balcony or window, “We just moved here, can you guys hang out with my daughter? She’s a bit shy.” Now that I think about it, that was real embarrassing. I never really knew why I couldn’t talk to people, at the time, but now I know. I was just too nervous, I was scared that I was going to stumble or stutter over my words, I was scared that they would look at me and see my physical and mental flaws. The quick movement my head makes when I feel like I am being watched, my teeth, my shaky legs, my acne.
It has been like that for so long, I just never really learned how to talk to people. I’m jealous of the people who could go up to a stranger and have a deep conversation.No, this is not a post on how to start small talk, because I obviously don’t know myself. Trust me, I’ve been watching youtube videos, I looked all over the internet, and I have yet to find something that would help me. Not even my friends or family could help me, if they try, I just get too complicated and let my insecurities take over.
When I was 13 years old, I got tired of being the way I am, so googled, “Why can’t I talk to people? Why do I fidget a lot when I’m around people?” After some research and a few quizzes, I found out that I have social anxiety. At first I thought that I was a hypochondriac, where I take simple symptoms and assume that I have some health disorder or disease. But the symptoms were crazy accurate, so there was no way that I did not have social anxiety, it HAD to be that or some type of anxiety. I have been self- diagnosed ever since. I never talked to my doctor or pediatrician about it. Although, my last check up with my pediatrician before I turned 18, he gave me a sheet of paper where I have to answer questions about myself. “Have you been having trouble sleeping? Have you ever had thoughts of suicide? Do you have anxiety?” I don’t remember the answer choices that well, but I know that I did not circle Never. My pediatrician asked me some follow up questions and then told me that I might have some form of anxiety and should see a therapist. Oh trust me I really wanted to, but since I was you know almost 18, my mom wanted me to make the call myself. I know most could relate with that.
The problem with that for me, is my thoughts take over and it makes it hard for me to just get on the phone with my insurance company and say that, “I need a therapist.” That is why I don’t have one right now.
This disorder has stopped me from doing things that could have maybe changed my life.. Like not joining any clubs in high school. Not telling people how I felt, before it was too late. Not talking to people and have them expect that I don’t like them. Not telling that boy that I liked him in person before graduating and going our separate ways (No one in particular).
It seems like I am blaming everything else, but myself on why I’m like this, but I am blaming myself. All of these thoughts that I have are in my head and there is no way I could stop those miserable and taunting thoughts.
This post is to show the people who are like me,who are scared to speak up. Take the advice that I should be taking, ‘Breath, try not to impress anyone, and face your fears.’ I know this will be hard for you, because I know this is hard for me, but I am 18 years old now. I have to work on taking care of myself , I can’t have my mom over my shoulder yelling, “My daughter has never worked before, can you hire her, she’s a bit shy.” I have to ignore these thoughts that prevent me from living my life.
Like I tell my family, friends and myself, when we are going through tough times: