I remember a time when I was happy as a child. It was well before my brothers were born. Life was simple then. It was only me and my mother. But then my first brother was born, and this added more stress to my mother. A single mother of one can cope quite well and learn to love a mistake. Two mistakes can take a toll, but they are still very manageable. It was when my third brother was born that life changed completely. For you see, that is when all hope was lost. Despair set in. These were the days of anger and violence in my childhood. It is when my mother could no longer cope with negativity in a positive manner. She had lost all hope. Raising a child is not easy, this is something that we all can agree on. Multiply that by three, and do it alone; and watch the pressure build.
It was during this time in my mother’s life that I became an easy target for her anger. I was at the age of absorbing. I absorbed a lot of negativity. This is where most people focus on rage and anger. True, I do deal with those issues. However, I would like to focus and the social aspect. As a child we moved a lot. I don’t remember spending more than three years in one spot. Meeting new people was not a problem. Making friends was a problem. Something was disconnected. I would meet people, build a network of people to talk to, but I never invested any emotions. Why should I when I knew our stay would only be temporary? I grew to very self-conscious about everything I did. Was I normal? It’s what every kid asks. It’s what adults ask too. According to my mother I didn’t. According to the bullies at school I didn’t. According to my grades I didn’t.
This is how my social anxiety was formed. People are quick to as “who’s fault is it”. Truth is, it’s nobodies fault. This is life. When I’m in public, I can feel everyone looking at me, whether they really are or not. I get nervous. My palms being to sweat, and I know I don’t have my happy face on… or do I. I have learnt to love chaos. This is something that I learnt as a child. When things get crazy, out of control, and disorganized, that is the time to chill, look and listen. I learnt to embrace chaos. Things are never as bad as we imagine. Now take that feeling of “everyone is watching you” and imagine how much it is multiplied when giving a presentation. This is when a person with social anxiety has to practice control to the extreme. For me, a physical shut down will begin. Inside I can be a cool as the flip-side of the pillow, but my body will freeze and my mind will shut down. I have to manually process everything. This is not the most comfortable place to be. Even if I love the chaos and the challenge, I jeopardize the message that I am trying to convey in my presentation. This is why is has been so important for me to learn to function at an efficient state during these times. Some may say that what I experience is stage fright. No, I know the difference between butterflies in my stomach and a mental shutdown.
Social anxiety is real. More people have this condition than we realize. There are a multitude of reasons as to why we act and react in the manner in which we do. Our past interaction and the environment that we were raised up in has a lot to do with it. I can only explain, in detail, my situation. However, I can empathize with others that are in similar situations. I was once told that life is not fair. I disagree. We are all given lessons in life. It’s what we do with that knowledge that’s counts.
Thanks for taking the time to read, and may we always take the time to understand each other.