People that know me well know that I have struggled with shyness in my life. I don’t know if you are ever “cured” of it, but I have learned to deal with it and get past it.
For a long time I wondered, “Why me? I had to be gay and shy? Life was not fair. My parents did the best that they could with things, yet at times I think they could have pushed more with the shy thing. They had 3 other kids, and none of them were shy.
People say “just get over it.” And you aren’t shy — I’ve seen you do such and such. As an adult, doing my own research I found out about social anxiety disorder. It is an actual condition — something that is still misunderstood as far as how to treat it.
I remember a few times that stick out in my memory for me. Once I was at a party and felt that I didn’t belong there. I went to the car and sat in the car while my partner was in the party. That is what felt right for me. He found me probably half an hour later.
Another time, I remember going to a New Year’s Eve Party of a friend of a friend. I remember talking to someone and telling them that I had social anxiety disorder and it was very hard for me to talk to them but I was trying. The person laughed at me! What kind of sick person does that? I proceeded to go off on that person, a total stranger. Yeah, his reaction to me was not what I wanted to hear, but I shouldn’t have gone off on him. I should have just brushed it off and moved on.
So how have things changed for me? I have to love and accept me for me. I will never be my partner, he is who is he and he will always be the more outgoing one. I realize that not everyone is going to like you… and that is an OK thing. I used to look at things from a warped perspective… if we had a party, I would look/concentrate on the negative — who didn’t show up, why didn’t they show up — instead of seeing/appreciating who was actually there. I know I made myself sick worrying about things like that.
I would go places saying stuff like “I can make a friend here.” And when it didn’t happen, I blamed myself for it. I wasn’t interesting enough, I was a boring person, a wallflower. Everyone else seemed to have more exciting lives than me. Than add on top of that I didn’t drink and I really felt like I stood out.
Life is different now. So I am not the life of the party, I am fine with that. I AM an interesting person with interesting things to talk about. Friends happen, but you can’t force those things. I guess part of it is age… I love myself more now than in my 20’s.
Every once and awhile I still feel shy. My partner wanted me to call an old friend and I hesitated about it and had him do the call. I was scared of being on the phone and hearing him say “Who? I don’t remember you.” It turned out fine… he left I message and the friend did call back because he remembered us and wanted to catch up.
I was proud of myself recently for going to a picnic by myself and having a good time. Sure, I think I stuck to people I was more familiar with, but I did meet some new people too. I didn’t have any anxiety about the day at all.
Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here. They make great gifts for the holidays.