The Benefits of Solitude

There is nothing I love more than sitting at home alone on a rainy day, coffee in hand, reading a book, listening to music, or writing. For a lot of people this kind of day would be considered dreary or boring, and I get why they would feel that way. But for me, the freedom I get from spending time alone is one of the best feelings in the world.

If you are an introvert, living in today’s fast-paced society can be mentally exhausting. You may frequently wonder what is wrong with you, asking yourself things like, “Why don’t I like doing what everyone else likes doing? Why don’t I want to go out and party every weekend?” It is easy to feel out of place in this world when you are an introvert because our society more often than not encourages extrovert behavior. If you are anything different than that, you’re often labeled weird, rude, or anti-social.

Fortunately you are not the only one who feels the way you do, and there is nothing wrong with you! Being introverted doesn’t make you weird, awkward or anti-social. You don’t have to have social anxiety or even be shy to be introverted. Being introverted simply means you need more time alone than others to recharge in order to function at your best.

Once I finally began embracing my introvertism, I discovered that there are actually tremendous benefits in making time to be alone, which is why I’ve created a list of three reasons why solitude is beneficial for introverts.

  1. Solitude is a great opportunity for improving your mental health and practicing self-care. Every time I use my alone time wisely (meaning I don’t spend hours on my phone aimlessly scrolling through Instagram!) I am able to do things that make me feel better, both mentally and physically. When I am alone I can freely exercise, meditate, listen to a podcast, take a bubble bath, practice yoga, read, write, or listen to music without any interruption. All of these activities help me clear my mind and relieve stress, and through taking the time to care for my well-being, I have learned how to analyze and reflect on any negative thoughts that enter my mind and then replace them with positive, uplifting truth. Since consistently taking the time for self-care in solitude, I have adopted a totally new and much healthier mindset that wouldn’t have been possible without my time spent alone learning during self-care.b48266a03ba269ac93545f4ae3a07165
  2. Solitude gives you the time and space to create your art and be creative in your work. Your work shouldn’t feel like work; your work should be your art, and I don’t necessarily mean art as in drawing or painting, unless that is your thing! I mean art as in whatever you love to do. For me, it’s writing. Whenever I am alone my mind tends to wander, and I often get my most creative ideas during this time. My daydreams become ideas that I use in the stories I write. When I am with other people it is very hard for me to be creative and focus on my work. The stimulation from people talking or the TV blaring in the background is not a conducive work environment for me. However when I am alone, I am able to take create a calm, quiet environment that allows me to concentrate and get more work done while still making the work enjoyable. Many times I don’t know how I truly feel about something or what to do about a situation until I start writing about it. Being able to put my thoughts in writing allows my mind to make sense of all the ideas bouncing around in my head.                         e30d6daa223a94f6bac2ea2a694d6491.jpg
  3. Solitude allows you to get to know yourself. When I finally grew too tired to fake being friends with the people in my life who I was just friends with for the sake of having friends, it left me with quite a bit of free time. In this time away from those people who had a large influence on what I did on a daily basis, I was able to start over. I got to know myself. I rediscovered who I was, what I liked to do, what I wanted out of life and who I wanted to be. The new things I found myself doing I never would have done before because it wasn’t considered ‘fun’ or ‘normal’ to my so-called friends. However, I’d decided that I’d much rather be alone than settle for a ‘normal’ life. In this process I learned to love myself, which unexpectedly was also the cure for my anxiety disorder. Yes I was lonely at times, and I sometimes doubted my decision to end these friendships, but it ended up being one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I discovered that I am my own home and I already have everything within me that I’ll ever need. I no longer need outside validation from anyone or anything, and that has been the most freeing experience I’ve ever had.

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Contrary to the belief of many in today’s society, there are extremely positive advantages that can be gained through spending time alone. Although sometimes working and/or being in a loud, largely populated area is unavoidable, and it definitely isn’t healthy for us introverts to completely isolate ourselves from others, we don’t need to feel guilty for taking some time to be alone every so often. So please don’t be ashamed of your introverted ways! They make you, you. 🙂

What are some benefits you have seen in your own life from spending time alone or being an introvert? I’d love to hear from you! As always, keep checking the blog for new posts.<3

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Embracing Uncertainty

Hey there 🙂 It’s been a long time since my last post, and that is because I was student teaching and finishing my final semester of college. It was one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I have ever done, and I cannot believe it’s already over. On the other hand, I have really missed blogging and am so glad that I now have more time to focus on writing!

It feels amazing to be done with school, but with the excitement of graduating, also comes the unsettling feeling of having no idea what I’ll be doing in this next season of life. For the past several years, I’ve always had the comfort of knowing that at the end of a semester comes another one. And while at times I desperately wanted to be done with school and move on with life, college did provide a sense of stability and security. Now that it is finally over, the possibilities of what I could do are endless, which is thrilling, but at the same time it also leaves me with the anxiety-provoking question: Which path should I take?

Have you ever been here before? You beg for change, you’re tired of the same-old routine, you want something new and exciting, and then change finally comes. Only now that it’s in your face, it’s kinda terrifying. You may find yourself asking questions like, “What should I do next? What job should I take? Should I make that big move? What if I make the wrong choice? How do I know this is right for me?” Questions like these have been consuming my mind lately. It’s easy to daydream about how wonderful a big change in life would be, but when it arrives and it’s time to start making some life-altering decisions, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of fear and self-doubt.

Fortunately, now that I have some extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to sort of press pause and reflect. What I’ve come to the realize is that although I don’t have a set plan, yet, I do know what I want and where I want to be within the next few years, and that’s a all I need right now. After having given my life to Christ almost six years ago, I’ve learned that he is always faithful. He has never once not come through. He may not have always come through right when or how I thought he should, but he came through nevertheless. Ultimately, his way is always better than mine. So in this season of uncertainty, I am choosing to trust. I am choosing to trust that he has given me certain dreams for a reason, that he has a plan for me, and that he will make a way even when there seems to be none.

I have learned that living one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time, is necessary for a healthy mind. So now whenever I start to feel fear creeping into my mind, I stop and ask myself: Why should I worry? It won’t accomplish anything! When I worry, all I am doing is trying, yet failing, to answer questions that I cannot possibly answer yet. I’m great at creating all these scenarios in my head, but who’s to say that the pictures I form in my mind are the way things are actually going to turn out? This isn’t to say I don’t have goals, or that I sit on my couch just waiting for things to happen to me. It just means that I am no longer going to get too far ahead of myself or caught up in the details anymore. I know that if I submit my plans to God, and continuously choose faith in his promises over worrying and trying to make everything happen all by myself, he will be faithful to provide me with a much greater outcome than I could ever create myself.

One of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned is that God does not tell us our whole life plan ahead of time for two reasons. The first of these is because he doesn’t want to overwhelm us. If we knew everything that was going to be required of us in this life, it would see impossible since we haven’t had the time nor the experiences to prepare us for those things yet. The second reason he doesn’t show us the way ahead of time is because if he did, what would be the purpose of faith? Faith is believing in things not yet seen, so if we knew how every detail in our lives was going to turn out, our faith would be useless because we would put our trust in the outcome, rather than in the God who makes the outcome.

So if you are entering a season of uncertainty, just know that it is a normal part of the process in this thing called life. It doesn’t mean you won’t find your way. You may feel weak now, but on the contrary, this uncertainty is the very thing that is strengthening your faith. I have no idea what all the upcoming year has in store for me, but I am releasing my worry and control to the one who already has it all figured out.

 

 

 

P.s. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! And if you would like, feel free to share this post with others! I plan to be writing much more frequently now so keep checking for new posts! 🙂

 

Healing is a Process

Living with an anxiety disorder is challenging on the easier days and downright terrifying on the more difficult days.

Unfortunately, I know this from firsthand experience. Until recently, I lived with an anxiety disorder that manifested itself with intense physical sensations. I experienced all sorts of scary feelings in my body; panic attacks, upset stomach, shaking, derealization, headaches, weakness, dry mouth, hot flashes and dizziness were just some of the many things I would feel on a day-to-day basis.

These feelings typically came about when I was out in public, like being in a big crowd, or somewhere that it wasn’t easy to escape without being noticed (sitting in class, eating in a restaurant) or in places with a lot of stimulation going on. Loud noises and bright lights really bothered me. There was even a time period where I could not bear to go into grocery stores because of the loud noises and fluorescent lighting. I know it sounds crazy, but it was that bad. It came on fast and intense, and left me feeling terrified to leave the house for fear of what might happen.

Many times I backed out of doing things because I believed I physically couldn’t. I thought surely I was going to faint, throw up, go crazy or die. My body felt weak all the time. Anxiety made me depressed. I isolated myself and so I lost a lot of friends and missed out on many of the typical college experiences because my anxiety always arose while I was out. The craziest part was that all of these symptoms seemed to appear out of nowhere.

I used to have lots of friends, I went out to parties and drank frequently, and never had any issues feeling this way. I would’ve thought someone who couldn’t handle sitting in class or at a restaurant for two hours was a crazy person. So when this became my life so suddenly, I was sure something was wrong. I thought I was really sick. It couldn’t just all be ‘in my mind’.

I went to the doctor (even though that gave me extreme anxiety too) and was told that I was totally fine and healthy. Then I got really depressed because I didn’t feel ‘fine or healthy’ one bit. I wanted an immediate cure to my problem and I wasn’t getting one. I started to think, “So this is going to be my life? I’m going to be isolated from the rest of the world forever? I’ll never have fun or be happy again?” I started to believe that I would be doomed to a life of confinement in my house for all of eternity. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. It wasn’t fair. I was a prisoner in my own mind and I couldn’t escape.

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Looking back now, five years later from when it all began, I can see that it was never random. In all actuality, the anxiety disorder I developed should have been expected. The only thing that surprises me now is that it didn’t manifest itself sooner.

My entire life I may not have suffered from a panic disorder, but I always lived anxiously. I had social anxiety growing up, and I always cared way too much about what other people thought about me… I obsessively worried about family, friends, money, school, boys, fitting in, you name it, I worried about it! I listened to negativity and drama from those around me and let it affect me, and I spoke negatively about myself and others. I did nothing to care for my mental health. I did not love myself, and I didn’t do anything I was passionate about. I didn’t have goals or dreams I believed I would accomplish. I didn’t feed myself healthy thoughts or practice self-care, ever. I always played the victim. It was always someone or something else’s fault that I didn’t have a better life. I had done nothing but feed my mind negative, self-sabotaging thoughts my entire life, so, it was no wonder I developed such intense anxiety at the age of 21!

What I didn’t know then that I do now is that your thoughts create your life. The thoughts you think have a DIRECT effect on your health. Your mind, body and soul are all connected and the well-being of one greatly impacts the well-being of the other two.

Think of it this way: Our mind is like a giant computer system and negative thoughts are like bad viruses that get in and infect it. One person says or does something that hurts you, or you listen to/partake in drama, negativity or gossip, then your mind processes it, internalizes it, and keeps it, like a file downloaded on your computer. We usually forget about the negative thought itself, but its’ effects are still there looming in our subconscious for years to come.

And the more we think negatively, gossip, or put ourselves down, the more used to negativity our mind becomes, and because our minds find so much comfort in familiarity, the cycle continues. Thus, the virus just keep getting bigger and bigger, you begin to internalize these thoughts as truth, and then when your mind becomes too full of them, they start to spread to other parts of your body.

Many times, your physical illnesses and pains are literally your mind crying out to you for help! It’s telling you something is not okay in here! The worried thoughts weren’t enough warning for you, so your mind has to get your attention another way. However, typically by the time you realize what’s going on, why your body is acting so strange, it’s too late. You can’t just stop it. You know it’s anxiety, you know it’s ‘all in your head’, but you can’t control the way your body feels. You’re in too deep.

This is what I would call rock bottom. The place where you feel you have no control over your life. You feel trapped in your own mind. In this place, you are always afraid. You never know how you are going to feel, or when the anxiety is going to arise. Life is draining, and it often feels hopeless. I know because I’ve been there.

But even though you can’t escape it, no matter how badly you want to or try to, there is some good news. You will get through it.

Believe me when I say I really believed I would never feel normal again. I begged and pleaded and cried to God to take it away, but he never did. I didn’t understand. I felt like he had abandoned me. I wasn’t hearing anything from him, no guidance toward a way out. I was angry with him for a long time.

As much as I wanted to, I knew couldn’t stay in the house forever; it just wasn’t an option for me. I had to force myself to do things like go back to school and work, otherwise I couldn’t survive. But after time and time again of forcing myself to go through class or work and sit through the anxiety, even though I was terrified, shaking, feeling like I was going to vomit, I couldn’t focus and my mind was screaming “Stop, leave, run, don’t go! Stay home where it’s safe!”, after sitting through all of those feelings countless times yet still surviving, I started to realize that anxiety couldn’t kill me. Then I began to see that it couldn’t really hurt me either. If I could just ride the feelings out, they would eventually dissipate. And after four years of feeling like I was going to faint or throw up or go crazy every time I was in a social situation, I began to figure that if it was ever going to happen, surely it would have by now, yet it never had. When I thought about it that way, that my worst fears literally never came to fruition not one single time, I began to call anxiety’s bluff.

Hitting rock bottom was actually a huge blessing in disguise. I had nowhere to go but up. My old life wasn’t coming back, so I had to recreate a whole new life, a whole new me. I was alone most of the time because I had isolated myself from people due to the anxiety. I had nothing else to do, so I started reading and found the love I had for it as a child again. I also studied anxiety and I learned all about it, which was very informative and helpful, but to be completely honest, nothing really changed until I began learning how to love myself and the power behind it. I quit trying to learn ways to stop the anxiety, and instead began retraining my mind toward positive thinking and self-love. Doing this was the catalyst that absolutely changed my life. Believing I am enough, that I can create my life and literally do anything I want to as long as I believe I can and put the effort in, has truly changed everything. It’s incredibly simple, yet incredibly powerful.

But as the title of this post suggests, this change did not happen overnight. It took time, and lots of it. It took hours of reading and self-reflection and forgiving myself. It wasn’t a linear progression, either. Some days I’d feel on top of the world, like I’d finally beaten my demons once and for all, and then something would happen and I’d have a few off days where I felt like I took 100 steps backward. But the key to my change was that I kept pushing forward despite the setbacks. I’m still working on it. I continuously have to replace negative thoughts that come to my mind every single day. I’ve learned that no matter how small or insignificant one negative thought may seem, I must replace it with love and truth so I don’t risk poisoning my mind again.

I will warn you: the anxiety will fight to stay. Our minds long for routine and familiarity, because it’s easy and comfortable. When you try to change your thinking, your mind won’t like it because it hasn’t been wired to think that way. My mind wasn’t used to love and positive thinking, so it felt forced and fake at first. But I kept doing it. I kept practicing it even when it felt phony. I spent time alone with myself, something I used to be afraid to do, and over time I began to enjoy it, then I began to need it. I started listening to inspirational podcasts. I found new people to look up to, people who lived lives similar to the one I wanted. I created a vision board. I started this blog and began writing a book. I began saying yes to things that got me out of my comfort zone. I started praising myself everyday and I’ve never felt better.

My anxiety doesn’t have much room to roam anymore. I’m too busy being productive to worry about most things. I am becoming so filled with love and light that there is nowhere for the negativity to stay. It tries to creep back in every now and then, the only difference is that now I see anxiety exactly for what it is, and therefore it can no longer control me. Anytime I sense anxiety within me now, I immediately capture it and throw it away.

I began to realize that this whole time my anxiety was just the result of my unhealthy mind trying to find some sort of outlet for the negativity. My body was only doing it to try and help me, so I forgave myself. Once I internalized this, I began the process of healing. It wasn’t quick. It wasn’t easy. It’s still ongoing, and I get the feeling that it will be for the rest of my life. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world now. Why? Because I am finally myself. It stripped me of absolutely everything I had, this false outer persona I used to put on for the rest of the world, and forced me to be more me than I have ever been before.

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So I want to ask you today, if God isn’t taking something away, could it be for a reason? Is he trying to teach you something? I know that for me personally, I always strayed away from God really easily until my anxiety started getting bad. Anxiety always helped me stay close to him because I knew I couldn’t make it through the day without his divine help. Because of anxiety, our relationship is so much deeper than it was before. I also know that I wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing now and living a fulfilling life that I love if it weren’t for anxiety taking my old life away and leaving me to start a completely new one from scratch, which ended up being the one I’ve always wanted. And last but certainly not least, because I’ve come so far from where I once was when I began experiencing such bad anxiety, I know without a doubt that I am capable of just about anything! Right now I’m living a life and doing things that I didn’t think were possible just two to three years ago! It truly amazes me every time I think about it.

So if you are in a bad place today, I just want you to know healing is a process. It’s a journey. It’s terrifying at times and amazing at others. You’ll want to give up. But then you’ll do something you never thought you could and you won’t believe how far you’ve come. It takes time, but it is so incredibly worth it.

I challenge you today to start seeing your toughest battles as blessings in disguise. Ask yourself, what can I learn from this? How can I grow and be a better person because of this? If you need someone to talk to or help getting started on your healing journey, don’t hesitate to reach out. As always, please feel free to leave a comment or share this post if it resonated with you!

I leave you with some words of encouragement, and also my all-time favorite bible verse.

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he did in fact was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its’ own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size — abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

-2 Corinthians 12:7 MSG

 

Social Anxiety: A Journey of Overcoming

I haven’t posted anything on my blog in awhile, not because I’ve given up or don’t want to, but because I’ve been dealing with quite a bit internally. It’s also not because I haven’t been writing, I have, for over a month actually, but I just wanted to be sure that I said everything I needed to say and I wanted to get it just right. For me, that usually takes some time.

To be completely honest, this post is not going to be an easy one. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, then you will know I’ve battled with anxiety just about all of my life. However, in this post I’m only going to discuss one specific type of anxiety I’ve struggled with. This type of anxiety has been the one I’ve dealt with for the longest time, and it has been by far the most difficult to endure. If it isn’t already obvious based upon the title of this blog, the kind of anxiety I’m finally choosing to open up about my struggle with is social anxiety. In reality, it’s something I have never openly talked about with anyone. Literally everything within me is resistant to doing this, hence why it’s taken over a month to write this post, but I feel that if don’t, I’ll never be set free or capable of living a happy life. 

You see, while I realize that a lot of people don’t understand what it feels like to have generalized anxiety disorder, fortunately I believe that it’s finally starting to become more acceptable in our society. I don’t feel entirely alone in that area of struggle. But when it comes to social anxiety, I do feel completely alone. It’s not something I ever talk about with anyone, not even my parents, friends or boyfriend of five years. I went to therapy for months last year and could pour my heart out about my generalized anxiety, panic disorder and my relationship difficulties, but I could never muster up the courage to talk about the way I feel inside and the thoughts my mind has when I’m put in new or uncomfortable social situations. 

According to the Social Anxiety Institute, “Social Anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, being negatively judged and evaluated, and, leads to avoidance.”

For me, social anxiety is that and so much more. It’s never volunteering an answer in class for fear of getting it wrong and looking stupid. It’s not wanting to admit things I haven’t done that I feel like everyone else has or that I feel like everyone loves to do. Social anxiety to me is avoiding going places where I might see an acquaintance because I don’t want to risk an awkward interaction. Social anxiety felt like getting asked the question I hated the most all throughout elementary and middle school: “Why don’t you ever talk?”, and not having an answer because I really didn’t know. It was dropping the same college course two semesters in a row on the morning it’s supposed to start because it was a discussion-based course and I heard that I would have to give a 10-minute presentation at the end of the semester, and the thought of doing that was just too unbearable at the time. It’s feeling totally alone in my mind and desperately wanting new friends, but whenever I do start making them and they want to hang out, I ignore them, or act disinterested or busy, because if they get to know the real me I’m sure they will stop liking me.

Writing about, let alone living that life, is exhausting! Not to mention, these are just a few of the many ways social anxiety has impacted my life. I don’t talk about it because I don’t like it. I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed. I don’t want to be this way. I’ve always equated being shy with being weak, and I don’t want others to think I’m weak. 

I tried to hide my shyness with my external persona. I bought clothes I couldn’t afford, I never went anywhere without my hair and makeup done. I was very careful about what I posted on social media. I had friends that were loud, outgoing and popular even though I didn’t really connect with them. 

I did all this so my life would seem perfect to others. So just maybe they wouldn’t see how weak and alone and sad I really felt. But all these things were never enough. Inside I still knew who I really was. All the hiding and self-shaming did was isolate me even more.

Growing up I was so shy it makes me cringe to think about it. I literally wouldn’t talk to people I didn’t know. Anybody else besides family or friends I would freeze up around. The older I got the more I was able to talk to people, but the feelings inside of me were worse, because I was older and I knew better. I realized I wasn’t normal but I didn’t know how to change.

Since high school ended it’s been easier to forget who I was, or I guess I should say, who I am. I can avoid it much better now. I don’t have to see huge cliques going and doing things I’m not a part of. I don’t have to worry about who I’m going to sit with in class. I’m an adult. I make my own decisions now. I can come and go as I please from any place I’m at. I don’t have to ‘fit in’ somewhere anymore. 

But forgetting, or sweeping things under the rug, doesn’t work forever. It’s like putting a bandaid on your skin hoping to fix an internal wound. But no matter how many times you try to cover up the spot, a bandaid just isn’t enough to fix it. 

I’m still reminded that I’m not over it when I’m in public and I insist on using the self-scan checkout even though I have a whole cart full of groceries, just to avoid having to make small-talk with a cashier. Or when I decline invitations to things I know I should go to and actually want to go to, but I worry about others getting to know me too well. Or when I get stressed out at the thought of running simple errands like going to the bank or making a phone call, because I don’t want to talk to anyone. Or when I get extremely annoyed with people out in public who try to make small-talk with me because it makes me so uncomfortable. Or that I’ve been writing this blog post for over a month but I can’t seem to finish it because once I make it available to read, people will discover who I am. The thought of people knowing my biggest secret is absolutely terrifying to me because I feel crazy for  getting anxious when doing such simple things.

At these times, I realize that I am definitely not over it. It’s still there. It may be a bit smaller and harder to notice, and yes, unlike when I was a child, I can talk to people I don’t know now. I can fake it all very well, but internally it’s still there, always lingering in the back of my mind.

However, I’m an adult now. I’m tired of fighting this; I’m so tired of hiding. The shame I carry from hiding who I really am is just too great to bear any longer. I have dreams I want to achieve, and this disorder is holding me back. 

It’s funny, I used to be ashamed of being an introvert. I thought ‘normal people’ (whatever that means) were all extroverts. However, I didn’t realize there was a difference between social anxiety and being introverted. To my surprise, I recently learned that an introvert is simply a person who needs alone time in order to recharge after social interaction. While social interaction drains an introvert’s energy, it doesn’t necessarily make them anxious to be social. Upon understanding the difference between the two, now I fully embrace my introvert ways. I realize I will always need alone time to recharge, and that it’s okay if I don’t like partying all the time like many people my age do. It’s okay that I would rather read a book at home instead. I’m no longer ashamed that I’m not extroverted.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to hold back and not do what I love, or miss out on making new friends anymore because I’m anxious. That isn’t an introvert thing, that is simply social anxiety. While the two are often highly comorbid, you don’t have to have both. It was such a relief when I discovered I can still be an introvert, without having to suffer from the crippling effects of social anxiety. 

I’m sure by now I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to have social anxiety anymore. But simply wanting to be different isn’t enough to fix the issue. Over the years I’ve learned that in order to truly get rid of a problem you have to do some work. You must dig all the way down to the roots, were the problem began, where the negative beliefs came from. Only then can you find the place where the lies developed, and thus, get rid of them. 

As I said before, for as long as I can remember, I didn’t like myself and I never knew why. And because I felt this way, I hid who I really was out of fear of being rejected. I was a painfully shy child, who simply did not want to be noticed by anyone. I wanted to figure out just where these negative beliefs and feelings began. Thankfully, after a lot of soul-searching, I can all pinpoint it back to one moment in time. 

I was about three years old. I was being dropped off at my daycare by my father. I  remember that I never wanted to go. Not because it was a bad place, I was just very attached to my parents. All I wanted was to be at home with my mom and dad, and so every time I was dropped off I would cry for who knows how long. In my small three year-old mind, I never had the notion to think that my crying might bother anyone else. I didn’t cry because I was afraid of someone there. I didn’t cry because I wanted to get attention. I just didn’t want my mom and dad to leave me. 

So as I said, one day I was being dropped off at daycare by my dad. I could feel the lump in my throat forming, the tears about to come as he left the room. But then I heard something. It was a young woman talking. I don’t remember her face, her name, or even how long she had been my teacher, but when I arrived she was talking to another worker there. And that’s when it happened. A very defining moment that would alter the rest of my life. 

When she saw me, I vividly remember her saying something to the other girl along the lines of, “Oh great, she’s here. Just wait, she’s going to cry, she always does. She never shuts up. It’s so annoying.” And they both rolled their eyes and laughed.

Now, I am an adult. I realize she had no idea I could hear her. I’m sure she didn’t hate me. In fact, I’ve worked in a daycare myself, I’ve seen children come in that cry often, and would be lieing if I said I never felt a tad bit annoyed or frustrated when a child wouldn’t stop having a tantrum. But I was only three at the time. I heard it, and I took very personal offense. 

This moment is one of my earliest memories, and what I remember about it the most is how I felt inside. I felt hated. For the first time in my life I felt like someone didn’t like me. I felt annoying. I felt unlovable. And I felt like I bothered this girl. Not only that, I immediately assumed that if I bothered her so much, then I must bother everyone else around me. 

So what did I do in that moment? For the first time ever, I didn’t cry when my dad left! In my mind, the hurt caused from her words and the sadness from missing my parents was immediately replaced with anger. “I’ll show her,” I thought. “I won’t let her have the satisfaction of being right and seeing me cry ever again.”

So I didn’t cry. And guess what? I never cried again, at least not in public. I wouldn’t dare let someone see me being weak. I wouldn’t give someone the opportunity to talk about me badly ever again. But with this deep resolve, I paid a very heavy price. 

I never let anyone see me cry again, but this also caused me to shut down completely. I didn’t let anyone see me show any emotions at all. I became very closed off, my guard was completely up. I would still talk to family, and I had friends, thank God, but I was very selective. I did not trust strangers or teachers. If someone seemed at all aggressive or was a dominating person, I wouldn’t talk to them. Not because I didn’t want to, I physically couldn’t. Something deep in my subconscious shifted that day and impacted my life from then on. 

I’ve always wondered why out of all the childhood memories I have, that one is so vivid and sticks out so clearly in my mind. I didn’t realize it until much later, but that moment was what caused me to dislike myself so much, and it changed my life forever. I don’t blame the girl, she didn’t know what she was doing. I just learned that it shows how powerful our subconscious minds are, even at a very young age.

Another issue that’s hindered my life has been due to the fact that I didn’t learn how to properly take care of myself. While I was a perfectionist at taking care of myself on the outside; meaning my hair was always done, I never left the house without makeup on, I always had to wear the cutest, most expensive clothing, I did very little for my mind and soul. I was always thinking negatively about myself. I didn’t think I was capable of accomplishing anything great. I didn’t have goals or dreams I believed would come true. I believed I had no talents and gifts, and I thought I was too shy to be good at anything.

My self-esteem was pretty much non-existant. I had nobody building me up or telling me to think otherwise. I also didn’t allow myself to do the things I really took pleasure in because nobody cool did those things. Instead, I partied, did what my friends did, listened to their music and dressed like them because it made me feel accepted. 

Looking back, I never even liked the people or things I surrounded myself with, but at the time, fitting in was the most important thing to me. Not surprisingly, I was never happy. I tried to be happy. I tried to force and fake it. I searched long and hard for happiness in people and things, but I just couldn’t find it. I realize now that I had hidden and suppressed my real self for so long that even I had lost sight of who I really was. 

Finding out how all of these thoughts came about in my life was such an astounding revelation, and once I did, I knew I was on the path toward healing these wounds I’ve carried for so long. As I continued to uncover all of the reasons why my feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem had developed, I decided to begin doing some research on how to overcome these demons. 

In my quest for discovery, I happened to stumble upon a really eye-opening video called How to Overcome Shyness from The School of Life YouTube channel. It talks about how many of us who suffer with social anxiety and feeling shy innately believe that shyness is an unfixable trait, and that we are incapable of ever feeling more confident in social situations. Because we believe it’s not fixable, we obviously don’t try to fix it because it feels hopeless. Thus, we never change! 

Thankfully, researchers have discovered that anyone can overcome social anxiety. The key to breakthrough is simply changing your thoughts. You do this by consistently replacing detrimental thought patterns with more positive, uplifting, self-loving affirmations. The key word here is consistently. You can’t do it one time and expect any significant changes to happen.

I always wondered why with some people I can barely even chat about the weather without wanting to run away, but with others, I can talk effortlessly about all sorts of topics for hours on end without ever feeling anxious, or like I don’t know what to say. From the School of Life video, I discovered that shy people have a very distinct way of interpreting ‘strangers’. We aren’t shy around everyone. We just become anxious and tongue-tied around those we perceive to be drastically different from us. The problem with this is, one, our perceptions and first impressions are rarely ever 100% accurate, and two, we make our beliefs and judgements based upon very surface-level traits; such as age, class, race, gender, tastes, backgrounds, religions, etc., instead of actually getting to know the real person and finding some sort of common ground. We unfairly categorize people into these fixed little boxes and deem them either ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ in our subconscious minds.

This video also explains that socially anxious people suffer so much due to having a personality trait called provincialism, which is “an over-attachment to the incidentals of one’s own life and experience that unfairly casts others into the role of daunting, unfathomable, and unknowable foreigners.” 

This means that when shy people have social contact with anyone that they perceive as being from a different ‘province’ because of some external difference, (whether it be age, race, class, gender, hobbies, etc.) the shy person subconsciously decides that there is absolutely nothing that can be said or done because the other person is so much different, so much greater, smarter, richer, prettier, (you fill in the blank), and they couldn’t possibly relate to each other because of that difference. 

You see, the mind of a shy person fixates on these differences and it seems impossible to get over feeling anxious because their is mind telling is them that person is dangerous due to being different. On the other hand, the mind of a person who isn’t socially anxious is still very well aware of the differences between themselves and others, they just refuse to believe that makes them unworthy or less than, and so, they aren’t afraid to interact with a diverse range of people. 

Shyness ultimately stems from a hyper-awareness of our own selves and our shortcomings, and believing that these shortcomings will bother other people. We who suffer from social anxiety have an outrageous belief that a stranger might be dissatisfied or discomforted by us. Shyness is feeling special or singled out, but in a negative way. We think everyone is going to notice us. And while our intentions are good and they sound very humble, meaning we truly don’t want the spotlight on us, this thinking has the exact opposite effect. These negative thoughts of, “Oh no, everyone’s going to notice me!” are, in fact, making it all about us. 

Shyness, in a sense, is actually a form of pride. We are too fearful of losing our dignity. We are afraid of doing simple things like asking for help, because we might be pitied or seen as ignorant by the other person. In an attempt to never look foolish, weak or strange, we build walls up so that others will think we have it all together. But the consequence of this isn’t what we want, which is to be seen as having it all together. Instead, it tends to make us seem rude or stuck-up, and obviously makes forming relationships with others very difficult.

I’ve got good news though. Nobody is really noticing you all that much. It’s hard to believe, I know. To convince my own mind of this, I ask myself questions such as, 

“When someone else gets an answer wrong in class, do I belittle them in my mind? 

Do I stare at people going to the bathroom and wonder what took them so long when they come back? 

Do I remember that so-and-so already wore that shirt last month? 

Do I get annoyed with a person who asks me for help?” 

No! 

Well guess what? They don’t think that way either. I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t that important. In all honesty, everyone is too worried about themselves to think about your mistakes, what you look like or what you are doing. 

I have decided that from here on out, I am going to start saying no to fear, and start saying yes to things that scare me,  especially in social situations. Will I face rejection every now and then? Probably. Will I feel anxious? Of course. Will it kill me? No! I just desperately want to be free and I have so many dreams I want to accomplish, and in order to do these things I must be myself. I have to step out of my comfort zone and do the very things that my mind tells me I’m not capable of doing. 

Sometimes it’s hard to admit because my whole life I’ve told myself it was selfish and arrogant, but deep down, I do love myself. Who am I to believe that there aren’t people out there who will like me just the way I am? And so what if people don’t like me? My biggest fear has always been being disliked, but while it’s true that since I’ve kept myself hidden I haven’t given anyone much reason to dislike me, I’ve also not given many people much reason to like me either. How ironic! I’m hoping that taking this step allows me to finally find ‘my people’, instead of settling for those who I don’t much care for, but still hang out with just so I won’t feel lonely. I know I will make mistakes, and I’m sure I will sometimes still give in to fear, but I refuse to settle, or stay stuck and stagnant any longer. 

If you’ve read this entire post, thank you so much. I don’t know how helpful it was, but it was something I had to bring to light in order to be set free, even if no one reads, relates or understands it. 

If you have social anxiety, I want you to know that I get it. It’s hard. It’s lonely, but you aren’t the only one. You are not weird. You are not unlovable. And you don’t have to be this way forever. This disorder can be  defeated. There’s no need to be ashamed of it anymore. Bring it to light, ask God to heal you of it, and ask him to use what you went through for His greater good. 

If you suffer from this, I ask you to look back throughout your life, find the moment where it all began. At what point in time did you start to believe the lies that you weren’t good enough? That you were less than? That you were unworthy of love? That you should be ashamed of yourself? Find out who or where those lies came from, and refuse to accept them any longer. Then, every time you start to have a negative thought about yourself, replace it with truth. Turn the negative thoughts into positive, uplifting ones. And absolutely no more shame and hiding who you are. God can’t heal what you won’t bring out into the light.

It takes time and effort, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. You see, the mind of someone with social anxiety and low self-esteem is so accustomed to negative thought patterns because they’ve been thinking this way for so long that negativity is their mind’s automatic response. But the more the mind is fed with positive, loving thoughts, the more accustomed it will become to positive thinking, and thus, the mind will begin to think positive thoughts with much greater ease. It’s by no means easy, but it is so incredibly worth it. 

With that being said, I leave you with one of my all-time favorite Bible verses.

“So be content with who you and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God, he is most careful with you.” 

1 Peter 5:6-7 The Message Version

This is my go-to verse when I’m about to do something really scary, especially socially-wise. God commands us to simply be ourselves and to get rid of the fake outer persona, by stripping down to our true, God-given self. When we do this, God will bless us beyond belief, and his grace will allow us to do the seemingly impossible  because it takes great courage and faith to do this. My advice is to trust God, stop worrying, and start being your true, authentic self. I promise when you do that, life will be so much better and you will finally be free. 

If you are struggling immensely in this area, please don’t hesitate to reach out,  it’s what I’m here for. 🙂 As always, please comment or share this post if it resonated with you!  

Also, if you would to like watch the video How to Overcome Shyness, I have inserted the link below. It was incredibly eye-opening and helped me tremendously! I definitely recommend watching it. 🙂 

How to Overcome Shyness