Barriers to Communication
English 101 Section 004
MWF 9:00-9:53 AM
My Fear of Social Interaction
Ever since I was a kid, I struggled to talk to people. The thought of just talking to someone is just terrifying to me. I also find it tough at times to talk my friends and family. It is hard to open up and talk about things that I care about. I am just so scared of what people will say or think about me if I do let my true self out. I wont let people in during my times of need. This has led me to feeling alone and unwanted. I never feel like I have fit in anywhere. I know I crave social interaction, but whenever an opportunity presents itself, I crawl back into my shell and shut it out.
Growing up, I lived in the country with my mother and my brother. The closest town we lived near was quite a drive away. Due to me living in the country, I did not hang out with friends much and mostly kept to myself. Most of my early life was spent alone in my room, watching TV or playing video games. The only people I ever spoke to or interacted with were my mother and the rest of the family. I never really felt alone at an early age, but I knew something was missing.
This feeling became more prevalent when I went through elementary and middle school. Everyone thought I was weird since I never really talked or knew how to interact. During recess, I would sit alone and avoid any person I seen, in fear that they might try to speak to me. I would just watch all the other kids play and laugh. I wondered why I couldnt do what they were doing. It seemed so second nature for them, and they seemed so happy. I wanted to be like them, but I had no idea how. Every time I tried to join in, I would just get looks of disgust and annoyance. Due to this, I just stopped trying altogether. I did not understand why it was so hard. It was not until later I figured it out. It was my insecurities and fears. What if they think you are weird? or What if they think you are stupid is what would go through my mind. It stopped me from connecting with people from the get-go. I began to hate myself more and more. I wished that I could be someone else and that these problems would go away. At times, I would feel so sad that I would cry myself to sleep at night since I believed I would never meet anyone that I could talk to. I believed that I would be forever alone.
When I got to high school, things had changed a bit. I had friends that I could talk to, though it was bit superficial majority of the time. I found things that were an outlet for me such as cross country and band. I was beginning to feel like I belonged somewhere. I excelled in school and got very good grades, getting on the Academic Top Ten many times. Despite all this progression and growth, I still felt alone and empty. My social skills had improved a bit but left a lot to be desired. I still kept to myself and did not speak to those who were not my friends. My self-confidence was close to non-existent and I felt worthless. Nothing I accomplished seemed to change that. I needed something more.
One day during sophomore year, I decided that I would try and talk to a girl that I had always had a crush on. Surprisingly, it began very well. She was the one person that related with me the most and I felt that I could open up for her. I got really close to her and felt so comfortable around her. She brought down my walls that have been put up for years. This connection I felt with her seemed like it was more than a friendship. So eventually, I worked up the courage to ask her out on a date. I was so sure that she would say yes. But when I asked her, she instantly rejected it. She said that she did not feel that way about me and that she did not mean to lead me on. All she wanted to be was friends. She never spoke to me again after. This devastated me and reaffirmed all my doubts about myself. No one would ever like me for me and I would always feel alone. I left myself vulnerable and got hurt. It hit me hard, enough to even make me contemplate hurting myself. Immediately, I receded back into my old habits.
The next few years of high school went relatively well. I made a lot of great memories with my friends and teammates. I still felt empty, but I faked it and tried to be happy. It was nice to have people who were close to me and I could somewhat to talk to. When graduation day came around, it was the not a day of happiness and pride for finishing high school like for many others. It was the day I realized that I would I have to start all over again.
At the start, I was excited to go to college. It was a completely new chapter, a clean slate. I could reinvent myself into a confident, social, and likeable person. Finally, I would feel like I belonged somewhere truly. All I could think was about was how many new people I would meet and talk to. I had so much confidence going into the first day. I was going to make a conscious effort to change. Unfortunately, that is not how it went. I immediately slumped back into my old habits, abandoning my plans to become a person I was happy with. All I did in the first semester was go to class, eat, sit in my room, sleep, and repeat. I did not form any connection with anyone. Nothing changed.
Getting over this is something that seems so insurmountable, but I know it is possible. It takes a conscious effort to get over this fear. In order to overcome this, I have pledged to make small steps every day. I will inch out of my comfort zone every time an opportunity presents itself. I will stop living in my head and start living my life. Even though I shy away from human connection, I know I need it to feel whole. Being alone may feel safe to me, but it is not a healthy way for me to live. I know that this solution is not going to fix the problem immediately. I am going to struggle, embarrass myself, or even regret trying at times, but every bit will be worth it. I learned that in order to become better at being social, one must do it repeatedly. It comes with practice as with anything. One day, hopefully, I will feel content with myself and feel proud of the person I am.
I know I have a problem and I want to change. This time, I feel like I can finally make real steps towards becoming who I want to be. My fear of social interaction has always been a barrier to my ability to make connections with people. It has pushed me into dark places I never want to go back to. I hope that in the future I will overcome this and look back at how far I have come. Whenever a chance to talk to someone appears, I will always remember what my cross coach said to us at the beginning of each season, Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is exactly what I will live by until this fear is a distant memory.