It’s difficult not to think about my failings as this year draws to a close. I do see that I’ve learned in some ways, while still struggling in other ways. Anxiety has been the main factor for most of my life that has kept me from living to the fullest. I look back at my old blog entries, and for some, I am so hysterical and caught up in my anxiety, to the point of avoiding the situation and/or falling into a depressive state of mind about my failure to push myself out of my comfort zone.
I have tried to look at the bigger picture in life, in that I’m not the only one in the whole world who has to push themselves, or that some people out there face worse hardships than I could ever know. But of course this isn’t something that is consciously on my mind all the time 24/7 because I have my own life to be selfish about.
This happened in May of this year, but for the first time, I revealed to my brother that I have social anxiety. And this only happened after he criticized me about not being serious about my job search. I get that he came at me so harshly over it because, in his eyes, I seemed quite non-compliment and lazy, and because he didn’t know about my anxiety struggles. I’m in no mood to go into long details, but I will say after medical billing school, I began a period of the following things:
1) Overall, feeling like I didn’t deserve my medical billing diploma because I half-assed most of my class assignments towards the end of the year program.
2) Being very unprepared for the job hunt period, but also extremely reluctant to seek out any guidance and help from a school counselor because I felt too anxious to go through with it, whether in-person or by phone
3) Not wanting to admit I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing with my life
4) Being scared out of my mind about interviews, to the point of wanting to avoid everything associated with it that was a potential trigger for my anxiety, such as googling “how to prepare for an interview”
I was not consciously aware of it until my brother pointed it out to me some nights ago, but I always see (and imagine) the worst in people. After this, I noticed that this perception of mine ends up affecting how I choose to interact with certain people. Such as my brother. I have, for a long time, learned to associate his presence with my own discomfort. I am not close to him. Every recent conversation I can remember having with him as far back as two years in the past, I have often spent those moments panicking internally about if he’s going to ask me about my job search or if I’ve been on any interviews lately. And because the topic of jobs and interviews were always a source of anxiety for me, and because I’ve struggled on and off to make progress with these two things due to anxiety, I actually started to feel anxious any time he was around. Nowadays he spends some of his nights and weekends at his girlfriend’s place, and I found myself feeling relief on the nights he wasn’t home. I was somewhat aware that my line of thinking wasn’t right after I started nitpicking about why it was better when he wasn’t around, especially when I started giving myself reasons why his absence was better for not only myself by my parents. Particularly since my parents have complained to me, at times, about his behavior. Like, how troublesome it is that my parents have to cook dinner for him, particularly since some of the things they may cook he might not necessarily like eating. Or when he lets them know late (by text) that he’s spending the night at his girlfriend’s place after they already cooked his portion of dinner. Or his habit of leaving his shoes in the kitchen or throwing his clothes down the steps of the basement rather than putting them in the laundry basket.
I saw him for the first time in two weeks because he was away on vacation in Cancun. Immediately when he asked me how I was and what I’ve been up to, my reaction was to be vague and meandering with my answers. I kept assuming he would judge me for what I’ve been up to. Working on some card gifts for people I met at a craft meetup, reading self help books, going to the library, watching some new shows on Netflix. I didn’t tell him any of this. I imagined he was just trying to make small talk so he could ask me about if I’ve come to a decision about school yet or what school majors I’ve looked into so far. So I pushed myself to bring up the topic of school and what I’ve been thinking about studying. Later I realized how wrong I was when he pointed out my assumption that he was going to interrogate me about school. He admitted that he wasn’t even thinking about asking me about it, and had just wanted to talk to me because he hadn’t seen me for weeks and wanted to show me his vacation pics.
The guilt has hit me really hard. I feel bad. I feel wicked. Despite this self-realization of my own paranoia, I am still wary of my own brother. I know he cares for me, but isn’t afraid to push me to see the reality of some things that I’ve willingly buried my head in the sand about. A couple of open discussions with him is not going to undo the distance I perceive that he and I share. Maybe the distance gap has gotten smaller, but it’ll never completely close.
A sore topic is my naivete about money and how I have no concept of money (my brother’s words, not mind). Last time, he tried to introduce the concept to me by asking me to look up salaries of different job professions and see the discrepancies, or even seeing how much rent costs in New York. He only asked me to look, but my mind was already racing ahead of that. I got stuck thinking about if I obtained that knowledge and how anxious I would feel if I knew the cost of living on my own. So I willingly avoided looking up the info. He told me that I was being irresponsible by allowing myself to be ignorant, and that I can feel overwhelmed by the numbers but that it’s a reality I cannot avoid forever. The main thing he advised me to do for now is to work on my social anxiety rather then look for a job because he believes I cannot give my full effort to both at the same time. I guess he has the idea that I’m not capable enough yet because this entire conversation that he had with me was littered with awkward silence and pauses on my end. I am notorious for being silent and pausing a lot if I feel uncomfortable in conversation, although I believe it depends on who I am around. Some people (like my friends) I feel more comfortable around and can talk more freely.
For my readers, I’d like to ask for your thoughts on this blog post overall and any suggestions or tips you’d like to share. I’m interested in hearing about any similar experiences you may have had. I do understand that, in some ways, I’ve not been able to grow up and mature because I’m so stuck coping the way I do with social anxiety. What sort of things have you and a family member not seen eye-to-eye because of your social anxiety? What habits are you aware of that you have that need to change in you life, but feel too stuck to make the effort?