Well, Now I’m Sad

And I have to post about my sadness and its trivial cause while the feelings are still new and heightened. If I were to wait until Sunday I likely wouldn’t be feeling it anymore.

So why am I so temporarily sad? And why is it such a first-world sadness? I really hate goodbyes.

I know I’m not alone in this. How many people really enjoy goodbyes? But of those who don’t particularly like goodbyes, I’m curious how many, to sound sort of like my age, “get caught in the feels” when they have to leave someone for a time or vice versa. Because that’s what happens to me.

On the outside I act fairly normal/neutral for me, stoic even. Because on the inside I’m experiencing all sorts of unpleasant sadness and heartbreak and end of the world-type feelings. And if I let those feelings rise to the surface, I’ll fall apart on the outside. And I really don’t like falling apart in front of other people–it’s a vulnerable state for people. For me.

Now, I’m not ready to turn on the waterworks or fill my head with clouds of sadness every time a friend or family member or acquaintance go our separate ways. Do you know how many times each day we say “goodbye” to someone? That would be incredibly exhausting emotionally; I don’t think I’d have enough energy to be as anxious as I am. No, my sadness with goodbyes stems from my relationship with the person on the other end of the farewell. How close I feel to them. When I consider a friend or family member incredibly close, I become very attached to them, like I can’t be without them (but not in a weird way).

As I’ve mentioned in my writing (once or twice) I don’t feel close to a lot of people, so when I do, I feel that much more protective of them and that much more afraid that I will lose them. That when we part ways will be the last time I see them. I know, that’s a bit dramatic (this sentiment probably originates from the same part of my brain that holds my irrational fear of cars/car accidents), as the majority of the time, I am likely to see that person in a few weeks or months or years. But the minority–the people with whom I’ve gone years without seeing or talking with–maintain my fear.

There are people in our lives to whom we say goodbye and that goodbye ends up being the final farewell, whether we know it at the time or not. And it’s terrible. I realize not everyone who enters our lives is meant to remain in them, but that doesn’t make the process of parting ways and accepting final goodbyes any easier. Because we don’t often examine our lives overall, but one day at a time. And when you experience one day at a time, feel one day at a time, the present feels so much more intense. And sometimes, I don’t like it.

So I’m sad right now. But I’ll be fine. Life will go on, school will start again, and these feelings will be pushed down, glossed over until the next goodbye. And so on. I and you and we will all be fine in the end.

Being Social Has Its Perks

Those of you who’ve been following along for awhile know I haven’t been too keen on being social for the past several months. Due to some self-realization this past semester (my introversion and social anxiety and… lack to typical college student persona), I’ve been working to pay more attention to my needs and trying not to let others’ (namely, peers) opinions interfere. Not always the easiest when you have social anxiety… But then I’ve also been working on discerning my genuine introvert/anxiety needs from simple disinterest and laziness so that I can be a better friend, sister, daughter, worker, student, etc. Essentially, the me I want to be. And I think I’ve really been doing a bang up job this summer! You know, in an unbiased way, totally… And it’s moments like the other night that show me just how worth my extra effort is proving to be.

Every summer, my neighborhood hosts a free swim night at a local pool for all inhabitants of the residential area and their guests. Oh, so exciting, right? I mean the idea’s kinda nice, but I’ve never really been into swimming. To me, it’s a lot like hanging out, doing what you normally do–but you’re in water… Yeah. Despite not really being into swimming, I thought it could be fun-ish… if my family went. Or if I at least took my dear, younger brother along.

As I’ve mentioned, he’s cooped up at home quite a bit during the day in the summer, so he doesn’t get out much. Plus, I have my ploy to make the most of our time together while our schedules are more open. Er, mine, anyway… So I thought, hey, I can do all that and more by taking dear Macimus to swim night! When I told my idea, he agreed and even seemed pretty enthusiastic about it, so plans were set, all was good to go. Until the night of.

Do you ever make plans in advance, likely due to feeling really social, and then the day of The Plans arrives and… you just aren’t feeling it anymore? Yeah, well… I think you know where this is going.

Neither Max or I were feeling the free swim vibes. But even still. I stood by my initial plan. I still wanted to hang out with my brother. And an hour out of the house would be good for him… Even if he wasn’t initially pleased about it. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t make him go, even as he was backing out of the plan. But, ultimately he still complied to my original suggestion. And it turned out to be a really great decision.

I’m finding more often than not in these last few relatively-less-social months, that despite not feeling sociable, when I make the attempt to interact with others, I feel happier after the socialization. And my night of swimming with my brother was no exception.

What made it so great though was that while we were out, he opened up to me. Really opened up to me, about the things that have been weighing on his mind recently. Things that, when I normally try to approach, cause my brother to shut down, change the subject. Or just withdraw from the conversation altogether. I don’t know what changed the other night, but he just brought them up on his own. And elaborated on his thoughts when pressed. And it was just a really nice conversation–nice night!–with my brother. He even asked me for advice (not always common between a brother and sister with a significant age-gap…)!

So I thought I’d write about this night here to serve as a lesson to you, Friends, and a reminder to myself some of the best things in life can arise from circumstances that don’t seem so appealing in the moment (i.e. socializing). You’d think as many times as I’ve found great experiences within socializing, I’d be more willing to… be social But so far, extreme introversion has won out.

Here’s hoping you are more outgoing than I! 🙂

The People I Admire

I read somewhere once that we’re prone to be attracted to people who possess traits we’d like to see in ourselves. Not exactly the old-age “opposites attract” mantra, but I think the Missing Traits Idea brings some truth to this. That is if you’re a lazy individual who’s drawn to someone ambitious, an athlete who builds a connection with a musical protege, etc. It likely depends on the trait. And if it happens to contradict one of yours, then… I guess “opposites attract”. But I don’t think this idea was talking about attraction like romance, but the literal attraction–drawn towards. We are drawn towards people who appear to be like those we strive to be like.

Maybe this seems like a no-brainer, but I remember thinking when I first read about this theory it was pretty groundbreaking. And then I got to thinking about the people I admire and what I like about them, why I’m drawn towards them. And while I’m not going to go so far as to say I absolutely don’t possess these traits, I just don’t see them in me–not to the extent I want. And that’s okay! Maybe that’s why we have those we admire in our lives. To admire. To be like. To serve as tangible reminders that we are striving towards improvement. Even if it takes our entire life to get there.

The sad thing is we don’t often tell the people we admire that we admire them and why. And maybe some of them we can’t, because they’re no longer in our lives or maybe they were never part of our lives and just admired from afar. I don’t know. But I do know that those that can be told should be. But that’s subject for debate, I’m sure.

I don’t always tell those I admire that I do, or why (words are hard for this English major, if spoken–I do better with writing… I think), so when I do, I really hope they recognize the genuity (I know) in the revelation.

Maybe this post sparked some thought in you. Maybe it got you thinking about the people in your life you admire. Maybe even to tell them. I don’t know. Even if not, I hope you learned something. Regardless, I want to leave you with one final thought for the day/night/whenever you’re reading this:

You are admired by others, too, for traits you may not even know about or see in yourself. And maybe they, too, just haven’t thought to tell you yet. Remember that.

Have a an admirable week, Friends! 🙂

So, Why DO We Care What Others Think?

Anymore, to worry about how others perceive our persona is pretty much the norm for humans. Or so they say. Hence the spur of don’t worry about what others think posters/etc. as of late. But, because this is my blog and thus have to make the post applicable to me because of I’m selfish that way (writers: write what you know) *INHALE* individuals with social anxiety disorder, or SAD, experience this on a much grander scale. So I’m going to be focusing on them primarily. But don’t worry, non-chronic SAD-folk. I think you just may get an inkling of an answer too…

Anywhere from oh, I hope *insert new friend/acquaintance’s name here* likes me and doesn’t think I’m too annoying to I sure am talking a lot/not talking enough in class–everyone probably thinks I’m a know-it-all/antisocial to everyone’s totally staring at me; I wonder what embarrassing thing I did now, we SAD-folk worry about it all, assuming there are people involved. And sometimes not even then. As far as I’m concerned, I feel like I have an audience hidden in the shadows watching me. ALL THE TIME. Well… not all the time–let’s not get weird. But, I mean, in situations when, theoretically, no one has any reason to be paying attention to me, I’m convinced everyone’s watching my every move, judging the way I walk, sit down, eat my food, etc. And it’s just… exhausting. And totally unreasonable, which I’m well aware of (preposition 🙂 ). Pretty much all SAD-folk know their anxiety and worries and paranoia(?) are seemingly minute and nearly irrational. But that doesn’t mean we can automatically change our mindset and BAM! we’re cured! Worry begone!

SAD_Cure

I shouldn’t find this as funny as I do.

Recognizing the perceivable simplicity of our worries though, I was tempted to do a little digging on why individuals with SAD care so much about what others think of them and why they’re left under the impression they have an audience watching at all times. I guess that was a little too specific, as I wound up relatively empty-handed in regards to particular SAD mindsets. Instead, what came up in my results was more… general: why SAD exists, or, in other words, causes of SAD. Here’s the long and the short of what I found:

There is no particular cause for social anxiety–no one thing that does it. Shocking, I know. The overall impression I got was SAD stems a bit from both genetics and environmental factors (otherwise known as nature vs. nurture).

The biological argument is, essentially, SAD isn’t so much passed down to children (although this is a possibility–though more research needs to be done to prove this) as it is learned from the child’s parents/familial environment. So, if your parent or sibling has an anxiety disorder and exhibits symptoms of that disorder explicitly or implicitly–especially in the early stages of your life–you become increasingly likely to develop a similar anxiety disorder.

Though an SAD-specific gene has yet to be found (as far as I know), there is a part of our biological makeup that has been connected to anxiety causation. Any guesses? You may be familiar with the neurotransmitter, serotonin? Yeah. Aside from managing our “bodily processes,” this guy also regulates our mood. Only, when you have too much serotonin in your system, your nervousness, er anxiety, increases. Thus, the official conclusion is individuals with anxiety (social or otherwise) have too much serotonin in the body. But, you know. Controversy.

On the environmental side of things (not limited to parents/families/close living environment), you may undergo a series of “trigger events,” or social scenarios during your childhood that (for lack of a better term) “scar” you enough that you develop what we know to be SAD or some kind of social phobia. Notice events, plural, as I don’t think any one event can serve as a catalyst for a mental disorder. These events, though could theoretically relate to anything social, are speculated to be related to trauma (like in those coming-of-age stories I seem to love so much), your environment while growing up (i.e. parents)–especially if the household was strict or protective, mass bullying, traumatic events (kind of like those in coming-of-age stories),

As I said, I didn’t find what I was looking for in terms of SAD-folk and their worries of acceptance, but I’m pretty satisfied with what I did find. Even so, knowing that the worry of pleasing and being accepted by others is common among humans, I looked into the reasoning behind this. And in doing so, I think I actually found the answer to the questions I was asking initially.

Humans are social creatures. And as much as some of us claim to hate people, abhor mankind, enjoy minimal social interactions, we need people and social interaction (minimal as they may be, sometimes) to survive. As a college student with a full-course load, two internships, extracurriculars, volunteering, etc., I, personally, become tired of humans real fast. Real. Fast. But something I’ve noticed about myself is when I feel the least inclined to interact with other people is when I find I need it the most; I feel so much better after socialization. Happier… And then usually exhausted because introversion. But anyways.

We need other humans to survive. And to ensure our survival, in theory, we need to be accepted by other humans in order to have friends, life partners, and families. And despite usually achieving acceptance in at least one if not all of those categories, we usually strive for acceptance in all even remotely social activities. People like being liked. That’s how it is (Though some will claim they don’t care. But hey, did you just read like a sentence ago about the need for social interaction to survive? Yeah, you care. A little bit.) But more so they need to be liked, accepted rather, to survive. And from that need to survive stemmed the need to be accepted and in other words liked. And so arose the universal worry about caring what others think. People with anxiety just have an extreme case of this worry… At least that’s how I see it (Hey, I sort of tied my blog title into a post for like the first time ever! Score! 😀 ).

As for letting this supposedly oh-so-curable fear go, I’ll leave that advice to the don’t worry what others think motivational posters/mugs/etc.

 

Other_Opinions

Alas, ’tis true. But so is survival… Ergo, needing people to like me… you know… some of the time.

Don’t you feel so knowledgeable?! Okay, actually you might already know a lot of this from your psychology class (Apparently two years ago is too far back. All of this was like a distant memory for me), or maybe just common sense. But hey, learning! 😀

I promise to switch to something less SAD-y for next week’s post. Though knowing me I could probably work it in!

The Forgotten Quality

Hi Friends!

Today we’re going to talk about social anxiety! Yay!!! Because I don’t talk about that enough on here… or something.

I don’t know how familiar you are with the concept of social anxiety, er social anxiety disorder (SAD)–I usually just say social anxiety even though that’s longer than its abbreviation, but whatever–but if you need a quick briefing: social anxiety is, essentially, like it sounds–feelings of anxiousness in social settings. But there’s more to it than that. A lot more. But in recent months, as I’ve become more open about my social anxiety, I’ve gotten the impression that people don’t see all parts of the picture, don’t realize why social situations make the socially anxious so socially anxious in the first place.

It’s not always new situations. It’s not always new people. It’s not always scrounging for something even remotely intriguing to say. And it certainly isn’t hating social situations or people or conversing. Though all these things are known for raising levels of discomfort for the anxious. No. Rather, the true trigger of our bouts of social anxiety (for me, anyway), is the judgment. The judgment that takes place in those new situations, from those new people, after saying those “intriguing” things. The judgement, er, the fear of judgment is what ultimately triggers my discomfort in social situations. The fear of judgment is the aspect of social anxiety that is so real and inescapable, yet is often the aspect that is most forgotten.

Sure, most anyone can feel a bit anxious in new situations with new people–that’s “normal”. Being unsure of what to say sometimes, that can be “normal”. And even worrying about what others think is “normal”. Great, yeah, I get it. Solidarity in not being alone with this anxiety, right? Okay… But is it “normal” to feel this way with family I live with (with whom I live 🙂 )? Close friends, who undeniably support me no matter what? People I’ve known most of if not all of my life? These aren’t new people or extremely new situations. Still with me? Or, how about this:

Just the other day I was putting together a late dinner for myself in our kitchen as my Mom was getting ready to leave for work. As I’m preparing my food for eating, I see her body stop and stand still, facing my direction. The more normal aspect of me assumes she wants to tell me something while anxious self assumes she’s totally making fun of the way I’m prepping my food. Either way, I turn to her and ask, “What?” She’s looking down at my food with an amused smile on her face and just says, “Nothing.” Her nonverbal communication tells me all I need to know; my anxiety fears are completely confirmed. I’m eating too muchI’m not letting my food cool down long enoughI’m doing everything wrong. So, again, let me ask how about now? Would you feel the same way in this situation? Have the same thought process?

I’m not trying to turn this into an “I-have-social-anxiety-and-can-be-the-only-one-I’m-so-unique” tirade. That’s not it at all (Side note: there’s my social anxiety right here–I’m worried about how my dear readers are judging me. If I’m coming on too strong, defensive. You see?). But I mean, how many people are likely to feel this same way in this situation (to some degree)? Worrying about what their mother is thinking of them and their cooking ability as they prepare a meal for one? Actually, that’s probably a bad example. I suspect this has potential to be sort of universal. I mean, don’t we all want to impress our moms with phenomenal cooking abilities? Let’s try something a little less so. How many of you worrying about what other people think of you? Worry that everyone in the room is watching you, judging your every move?Worry the waiter thinks you’re incompetent when you stumble over your order? Worry about your friend’s comment on our tardiness days after the accusation was made? As far as I know, these aren’t regular thoughts for most people. But, oh, for the socially anxious, these are very real and very regular (though I suspect the degree of worrying depends upon the person).

Social anxiety is so, so much more than the basic fear of people and new things and social interaction. So much more. And I hope you Friends begin to realize that if you haven’t already…

So, the next time you see or hear some socially anxious-related blip along the lines of:

 

SAD_Funny1

That’s not totally true… It’s more of a dislike as to how you feel when people talk to you. There’s a difference!

Know that that’s not the whole story. There are reasons behind the apparent nervousness and refusal to attend social events and talk to people. Now, if you want to get down to the science behind this–why we think this way–I don’t have an answer for that. But I can tell you it’s not a conscious choice. I don’t choose to think this way–it just kind of happens. And it’s not something that can be easily reversed. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing. Maybe that’ll be my basis for next week’s post, if I haven’t bored you already…

Social anxiety for the win!!! …Right?

 

Oh, That’s Not Normal? I Guess I’ll Go… Question My Actions Now…

What is “normal” anyway? That’s a pretty subjective term, anyway. Reminds me of that joke about society urging people to be themselves, and then when they become brave enough to do so, are judged for it… because it’s not “normal”. You’re probably wondering what I’m talking (writing) about, what evoked this train of thought. Well…

I was at work, and had taken a break to talk to a co-worker (GASP! Shocking I know…) and as is per usual in human conversation, I was asked about my plans for that day after work.

Ever since I came home from Italy, I’ve been making the effort to be a better daughter/sister/friend/worker/etc. (if you recall my Selfishness post) by my standards. Part of this involves hanging out with my dear younger brother. Now, we’ve gotten closer over the years as he’s gotten older and so we would hang out (watch movies, take walks, play cards, etc.) pretty regularly. But after I began college, I wasn’t around as much to do that. And when I was home, I was often too busy to spend much time with him–especially recently as I finished finals and have begun to move closer and closer to graduation and all that entails. So basically for me being a full-time student and devoted sister-friend doesn’t always work out. But with moving home and having time off of school, I planned for things to change.

Even with my jobs, I do have a bit of free time some days. And on those more open days, I leave my free time free for my dearest, now 15-year-old (yikes) brother, for whatever he wants to do (if he wants to do anything in particular, sometimes he doesn’t, but it’s nice to have that option 🙂 ). Anyways, the particular day I was asked about my after-work plans was an open-Max-hang-out day. I related a condensed version of the above while another co-worker entered the conversation and listened. When it became clear I was finished talking I was met with a comment along the lines of “Not many 15-year-olds want to hang out with their college-age sisters.”

Now, the comment wasn’t unkind; in fact, if what communication expertise I’ve gathered from my studies were any indication, I’d say the remark was made with admiration. Like what I’m doing is just so worthwhile… yet, different.

Different_Ash

Fantastic Mr. Fox… Anyone?

I don’t remember how I responded. But I remember my internal reaction–a jumble of thoughts flew through my head at once: Why not? Why wouldn’t a younger kid want to hang out with their older sibling? Is that not something siblings do? Not at this age? Should my younger brother not want to hang out with me? Is this not considered normal? This was one of those instances where I was so used to a certain aspect of my life, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of another reality.

What if? What if my brother weren’t who I know him to be? What if we didn’t have the bond we do? Didn’t spend time together like we do? Anything aside from what I have now didn’t occur to me, and that was so grounding, gratifying. What if I didn’t have what I have now? Had something else? I don’t know how things would be different, but I know there would be pros and cons to the situation just as there are in my current sibling bond. I think you know where I’m going with this, and I think you know it’s going to be terribly cliché but c’mon, I can’t not; even with all the rough patches–including a rather field-y patch at that–I wouldn’t change a thing. Because, let’s be honest, my brother nor I nor all the other individuals close in his life would not be the same if he were different.

“The crisis might be what sticks in my mind, but the in-between moments are the ones I would not have missed for the world.” –Jodi Picoult, House Rules

So yes, admiring co-worker, maybe 15-year-olds don’t typically hang out with college-age siblings. Maybe it’s not normal. But mine does. And it’s my normal. And we have a pretty smashing time. You know, most of the time…

Love your siblings. And your parents–particularly your father today, as society demands. But if you remember my Mother’s Day comment, don’t show appreciation for loved ones just on their acclaimed holiday, but everyday–explicitly and implicitly… in your own way. Happy Father’s Day (if applicable). 🙂

Also, is anyone impressed by abilities to cram the weirdest, opposing references into my posts? I think it’s my new talent…

Let’s Talk About (Write About?) Selfishness

Specifically my selfishness. How’s that for irony? As much as I’d like this to be some phenomenal self-help piece applicable to all readers, I know that’s just not possible. So like most posts, I’m selfishly using my own experiences to maybe, kind of, on the off-chance, indirectly help one or two people in addition to myself. Yep.

Lately I feel I’ve been selfish (hence the theme of the post). Beyond regular human capacity. And I don’t mean selfish in terms of greediness or only looking to benefit myself, but rather placing my needs above the needs of others so as to ensure my personal well-being/stability. While of course, caring for yourself and ascertaining your own needs are met is vital to, well, living, I think there’s a limit to just how extensively those needs should be met. And I think I’ve exceeded my limit…

In former posts I’ve mentioned my introverted tendencies/social anxiety/simultaneous people-admiration yet fear of socialization; I’m pretty open about these aspects of my personality. But that wasn’t always the case.

Acknowledging my social anxiety in particular is an act relatively new to me. I just started coming to terms with it and talking about it a few months ago. And ever since, I haven’t been able to stop. This is great! I’ve become more self-aware, self-accepting. I’ve made great progress from where I was prior to talking. But now I feel I almost use this facet of my personality as an excuse. To do things. Not do things. To justify my periodical antisocialness. While yes, social anxiety can be and at times is in fact a valid reason for certain situations, I think I may be… taking advantage of this part of me. I think, ever since I’ve begun to talk about my social anxiety and come to grips with it, I’ve gotten so comfortable with this part of my life, I treat it like I treat all constants in my life–like a… security blanket. Like I’m just a little too comfortable with this part of my identity.

Because I’m so comfortable and so easily able to justify my behaviors or decisions by my anxiety, I easily refuse to take advantage of opportunities (big and small) that hold the potential to sprout my growth socially. Because saying no and staying with what you know is so much easier than the alternative. Than trying something new. Or even not so new.

Ever since coming home for the summer, I’m finding it harder and harder to be the person everyone is expecting–the person I want to be. I want to be a daughter, sister, friend, student, employee, writer, explorer, investigator (and probably more but this list seems long enough). But I’m also introverted and socially anxious. And those bouts of reality combined with my aspirations don’t always work. It’s not impossible, no, but it is… a challenge. Or so I seem to think.

It is a challenge to be all this, all I want to be, but I think with my comfort in excuses, I’m exacerbating this challenge into something bigger. So as to simply not do all I want to do and to give up. Well, my version of giving up, which isn’t very similar to most peoples’ interpretation of the idea, but… And (in a very roundabout way) I think that’s selfish. I’m using facets of my personality and meeting the needs of those aspects to not do things. And that’s not okay.

Take_Care_Selfish

Oh good… Silver lining

I need to find a balance, a way to somehow be all that I want to be yet still care for the parts of me that need extra TLC (i.e. time alone/away from people). I just can’t get too CAREried away in the process of caring for my needs. Ha… that wasn’t funny. Sorry.

This potential balance achievement is going to be a journey–not so easily completed. Maybe not ever completed. Maybe full balance isn’t possible, but rather a trial of give-and-take that varies each day. I guess there’s one way to find out.

Alright dear reader(s) who were totally helped by my rambling bout to self-discovery: remember, take care of yourself. Meet your needs. But… don’t forget about those needs you share with others. Those need tended to too. Ha! To too. Yikes, I need a good laugh… And less ellipses.

I realize this is not my usual posting time. Don’t worry, we’ll return to regularly scheduled programming; I already had a post in mind for that but I was feeling really passionately about this topic, ergo the gift of extraneous blogging. You’re welcome! 🙂