I think I have a very odd form of social anxiety. I’m going to avoid using a defnite phrase like “I have”, only because I haven’t been tested , and I know people out there who have been diagnosed with anxiety that may take offense to any definite claims I make. Everyone seems to find me easy to get along with, and because of that, most people would probably describe me as social or socially outgoing, but that’s far from how I see it. It is not interacting with strangers that gives me much anxiety. I actually really enjoy meeting new people. An interaction with someone new to you is going to be a bit weird and awkward and is typically brief, and that’s mutually understood. You can ask numerous questions without seeming too interrogative, and the questions you ask can be anywhere from shallow to deep (favorite type of music – what would you want people to remember you for/by after you die). There’s nearly 0 expectations about how an interaction with a stranger is going to go. Although my anxiety/nervousness of interacting with new people has progressively gotten worse over the last year or so, it is interacting with friends and people I am acquainted with that gives me the most anxiety. That could be the reason I don’t put effort into keeping in-touch with anybody. Just the thought of being around someone that I know or that I am supposed to be friends with, and not having anything to say to them, makes my heart beat rise dramatically. Now I know that these are just thoughts, but too often do I find myself surrounded by people, but have nothing to say. The more I think about the thought that I have nothing to say to anybody, the heavier this pressure becomes for me to say something. Tell a joke! Get involved with the conversation! Talk! Be social! These are your friends dammit! But nothing comes to mind nor moves to mouth. It feels as if I am gasping for air, underwater. In particular, there was very close friend of mine, whom I have drifted apart from. I started working more and going out and drinking less, and therefore ending up spending less time with this friend. One day, I noticed that him and I don’t click like we used to. I don’t have anything new to say, and I know it. It really hurts to realize that I don’t…can’t converse with one of my best friends like I used to be able to, which has made me feel that the friendship isn’t much of anything these days. Makes me feel that almost all of my friendships have faded, and if they’re still there, it is only because they remember me as a more social, easy to talk to fellow. It is relatively easy for me to become acquainted. It is hard for me to truly become friends. It is rare that I keep up with my friendships. I hope none of you take the silence personally, for I am often times caving in my mind in hopes that I will be able to squeeze out something of substance to say to you.
My thoughts are the crashing waves that pulled me out to sea. It’s as if the light of the full moon awakened Poseidon. Judging by the strength of the current, his awakening was not a pleasant one. The ocean had me in its grasp now. Stealing me from my tranquil shore, dragging me through the coral and broken shells. I bob in and out of the water. Every now and then, strands of seaweed caress my legs, begging me to stay. Each time, their offer becomes appealing. But that sort of stability would be deadly, so I kick and I thrash and I refuse to be enticed. It’s reached the point of sink or swim. I never learned how to carelessly float on my back. So if you see me merely floating along, it’s because life has left my body. That image fuels my adrenaline, but my bursting speed is short lived. I’ve always been poor at pacing myself. These harsh waters have once again become overly-threatening. It’s the space between each wave that pushes me under water, that I am able to quiet these thoughts of drowning. Breathe. Slow down. The water is no longer tossing me aimlessly, but pushing me in the right direction. Breathe. Stroke. There is nothing left but this now. As my energy becomes more reserved, my pace finally develops for the long run. Breathe. Stroke. The ocean has calmed. A man lost at sea, on the brink of destruction, is now headed back to shore.