anxiety · life · social anxiety

Too Much Self-Doubt

I have self-confidence that is equivalent to a pile of dirt. Everything I do, I seem to always find a niggling speck of wrong in my actions or lack of actions. Many times just the fear of humiliation or failure keeps me from pursuing the thing I wanted to do. I’ve been through this cycle for years to know that what I’m so often envisioning most likely won’t happen. Or, if it does, it is not as awful as my imagination made it out to be. The recent times I dared to defy my inner critic, I suppose I can say I felt good for a brief period but I always ended up spiraling down the dark rabbit hole again sooner or later.

I am a very socially anxious person; no doubt about that. This blog began as a public journal about my immense struggles with social anxiety and expanded through countless entries to include my observations about how poorly I deal with anxiety in general. Then I played around with adding posts about other things I’m interested in, like my cross stitch projects and sometimes a review for a book I really enjoyed. I considered having different blogs to keep my ramblings separate from everything else but decided against it. I’m both comfortable and uncomfortable letting people see that the person known as Nat has a life and interests beyond anxiety.

I am starting to consider if being part of the social anxiety meetup group has done more harm to me than good. In the beginning, I felt like attending the meetups was a sometimes safer way to meet new people with the knowledge everyone else there is also struggling with social anxiety. However, this hasn’t made it easier for me to initiate conversations or just share my opinions in a group. The last time this happened weeks ago, I was so uncomfortable and sat in silence for over a half hour or more while everyone else around me chatted with each other. The worst part is I felt like I let myself get to that point because I knew that because it was a social anxiety meetup, no one would question why I seemed nervous and so non-verbal and that people would be fine I with leaving me alone and/or giving me space. Had it been a meetup at another group that has nothing to do with SA, perhaps I would have found the strength to push myself as I have done before. I am even questioning my ties to some acquaintances in the group, which seem feeble at best. Playing catch-up with people is terrible. I either have no updates to give them about my so-called life or I don’t think there is anything noteworthy to bring up. Then there’s the obligatory politeness I feel about asking people what they’ve been up to. The minute the words leave my mouth, I regret it and wonder what right I have to ask the question when I don’t know the person that well. Or if I do know the person, I still find some other excuse to make myself feel bad, like pointing out how long I’ve been out of contact with him/her and how fake I sound.

It’s possible to change how my mind reacts but I don’t have patience to work through it. I know that when the endless waves of self-doubt hits me, it’s my anxiety talking to me. I’ve had this for so long that fighting against it is mentally exhausting. That’s why most of the time it is victorious over me.

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12 thoughts on “Too Much Self-Doubt

  1. An incredibly raw and honest piece. I, too suffer from SA, although I am pretty good at putting another version of myself out there for work particularly, including that ‘obligatory politeness’ you describe. Thank you for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could be as good as faking things as you are. I’m terrible in the work department. Most of the time I have bunch of things I want to say but only manage to choke out maybe one thing.

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  2. I really like your honesty about your social anxiety and the ways you are trying to deal with it. If an SA group feels like doing more harm than good, no reason and pressure at all to continue. We are very similar and I’ve never felt an SA group would help me feel better about my anxiety – since I already feel very awkward around people that I need to talk to, when I decided to seek professional help I went to one-on-one therapist sessions. Sure, overcoming anxiety you need to put yourself out there and feel uncomfortable to feel better, but I don’t think that works all the time for all people. Some of us will just have to live with SA.

    ‘wonder what right I have to ask the question when I don’t know the person that well.’ This is so me. I even feel quite wrong asking others at my work things like ‘How was your weekend’. A big part of me feels that it’s intrusive and nosy (keeping in mind my colleagues are not like very close to me). On the other hand, I really do not want them to feel bad in any way when they ask me ‘How was your weekend’ and then I mumbled something like ‘Good’ and then end the conversation there.

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    1. Sometimes I do feel obligated to go to all SA meetups that interest me. I can relate to what you nean about thinking an SA group wouldn’t really help you with anxiety. Most of the events are like for board games, park and museum events, or any free events for social hangouts. There’s only one or two recurring events in my group where people show up to discuss their social anxiety related problems, but even that is too much for me to even go to on a regular basis because, for one thing, it’s never the same people that come everytime.

      When I was writing the post, I did think about the aspect of living with SA. In the past I felt stuck with it and unable to move anywhere with it. Now I see it differently. I still have it with me all the time but there is part of me that feels like I can live with it without it weighing me down (maybe).

      Ugh, me too about the work thing. I worry people are internally sneering at how fake I sound when I ask them how they are and what they were up to during the weekend.

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      1. I think you can live with SA. It seems you understand how it affects you when you write these posts, and you can still go out and come back home in one piece.

        At work, usually when I ask someone how they are, they will respond, and then I don’t know how to respond… Sometimes I don’t really care about others unless they mean something to me. As someone with SA, sometimes having people too close doesn’t bode well for how we feel inside.

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      2. I have the same problem when I ask someone a simple conversaton starter question (like the example you gave) and after they respond, I feel like my mind and mouth are not in sync and I have no idea what to say next.

        Sometimes I can’t tell if my desire to not have people close to me is an SA symptom or if I just naturally prefer being a lone wolf most of the time. It’s hard to tell especially when I feel desperate to form a close friendship with someone but don’t want to appear desperate about it. Whenever I meet a new person I find interesting, I have a bit of imagination running in my head of what it might be like if I got close to that person and had a solid friendship with him/her. The problem is I just don’t know if this kind of desperation is coming from an actual like for the person or an idealized wish for a buddy-buddy relationship.

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  3. Yeah, I wonder if going to completely random meet ups, even just going once, might be more beneficial. If I remember back to my meetup days I think I did that. I was able to don a coat of “normalcy” if that makes sense. When I went, no one knew my issues, I was just someone else. FYI, many people only go once to meet ups. It’s really the only way to find out if it’s something that works. There was a couple I went to where my end of meeting review was, “like omg, those people are whacked!” They actually made me feel less crazy, lol.

    By the way, I wanted to share something with you but haven’t gotten to my computer for quite some time. There was a girl who came to iOP for about 2 weeks. She shared how she had agoraphobia for about 7 years. She did CBT and something called exposure therapy, or something like that, and finally made it out. Coming to iOP was huge for her. She still struggled but the fact is, she now leaves the house. We’ve tried meet ups, gone out with friends, go to a support group, etc. Maybe they are all fraught with fear but we are doing it. My inclination is to run back to safety, meaning my house. I wonder if it might be helpful for the both of us to consider the possibility that what we are doing is actually a mini-success? I have a super hard time with that due to black and white thinking: either it is all horrible and therefore filled with doubt and shame, or all good (which is rare). I am trying to start looking at the whole picture rather than how I feel at the moment. Most of the time I’m not successful but the fact that I’m commenting thus, means that I’m starting to do that.

    Yay for both of us

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    1. I don’t know if going to a random meetup once in a while has helped me. It’s a hit and miss. When I show up by myself and don’t know anyone there, I feel like a deer exposed to headlights and that all the other people around me are going to eat me up. The most painstaking part of all this is actually physically making myself walk in and not look like a total nervous wreck. I haven’t been to enough of these kinds of meetups yet to know if I’m the crazy one or are other people there actually the ones more crazy than me lol. But what I find is if I randomly go to a meetup, I do feel somewhat “safe” knowing I can pretend for just to feign normalcy since the people there don’t know me and are probably not going to see me again after this time. Yet I also feel incredibly lonely after the event is over because I do have a longing to get to know people better but the only way to do that is to consistently come to the same or similar meetups in the same group. That is such a scary thing. Even worse is when I move into the direction of trying to get to know people better but my instinct is telling me to gtfo. The insecure part of myself absolutely cannot stand the feeling of vulnerability that comes when I start sharing things about myself to people face-to-face. I get afraid that the more people know about me, the more they will see that I’m just a pathetic and stupid person. Or rather, I am afraid that they’ll think of me as such once they get to know me better. I know this fear is coming from the self-perception I have of myself and know that people most likely won’t see me as stupid but it doesn’t stop me from avoiding situations if I feel like what I believe about myself will *definitely* come true.

      I would say it is very hard not to think about how I feel in the moment when the SA is overwhelming. If I look at the bigger picture of actual events I’ve gone to in the past week or what I accomplished over the weekend, yes, I can see the positives adding up. I definitely don’t give myself enough credit for making the effort to do things. Most of the time I feel like a waste of space and resources, though. :/ It’s a terrible feeling.

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      1. Yeah, it is a terrible feeling, sigh. Perhaps the reason I’m able to do more is because of years of practice, therapy, and not having SA per se but feeling the same fears and doubts due to the ED. I don’t think I’ve ever asked but do you have a therapist? I mean beyond the group? I simply can’t imagine I’d survive without one. I found out recently that my therapist does home visits for people who can’t or are unable to make it to her office. I tucked that info away just in case. I suspect I’ll never need it since going to her office forces me out. Once out I go grocery shopping, etc.

        My experience with meet ups was many years ago so don’t remember feelings since I do tend to repress them. I know that for years I didn’t feel lonely. It was probably because I felt safe in my own self made cocoon. But then, a few years ago, after my body started falling apart, I felt it acutely. It hasn’t left. I do get a reprieve though when I’m with a group, as long at is a group I’m comfortable in. I also don’t feel it when I’m active in the ED but that has to stop. I need to recover.

        Oh, interestingly I did find a meetup that I liked but never went to. It was a crochet one which seemed perfect because when I crochet in a group it relieves some of the anxiety. However, they decided to meet in the cafe at a grocery store. Seriously?!

        Anyway, it’s hard when feelings of judgement are acute. 🙁

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  4. Thank you for posting about this, it’s definitely allowed me to doubt myself less in the sense of me not being alone with self doubt and social anxiety. I have just done a post on the same topic, and came searching for posts that other people had made where they had the same feelings as me. I didn’t want to be alone. I knew I wasn’t, but this has reassured me and allowed me to fully realise this. Thank you again for being raw and yourself.

    I totally agree about the questioning of the ties you have with acquaintances. I feel this too. I suppose I just needed to see someone else write this, because before, I truly thought that no-one worried about this sort of thing. Another thing – people think that I don’t have anxiety because I’m so good at hiding away how much my anxiety bothers me and affects my life. I guess this upsets me more because they think they know me when they really don’t. They think that they can tell me what I am and what I’m not, and of course I start to believe them (self-doubt again, ugh). As a result, I think “so if this isn’t anxiety, what is it? What’s really wrong with me?”.

    I don’t even know what I’m trying to say, other than wanting to explain a tiny bit about what I go through, and to say thank you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Believe me, you are not alone! Yes, I know that sounds like the most cliche sentence ever that you have probably heard on television or in some other form of social media, but I really mean it. Even now after blogging for a year, I still sometimes feel like, “Can anyone relate to what I am going through?” It can be a trying time to get that kind of thought out of my head when it comes up almost every day, lol, especially since I get that more than likely, there are people who feel the same as me. It’s just difficult to find support offline about this since I wouldn’t know how to open up a dialogue with someone if I don’t know for sure if he/she actually can relate to me.

      Ditto on the being good at hiding anxiety to the point no one knows about it. That’s my life too. Most people who meet me just assume I’m quiet or that I just prefer not to be around people I’m not too familiar with. It does suck when people have opinions about you based on what they believe is true about you. Anxiety is definitely a very real thing. My perception is that a lot of people today still just see it as, “Okay, you are worried about something. Just deal with it and get over it.” If only it were that simple. I’m sure there are people out there who do well under anxiety because they have good coping mechanisms for it, but that’s not the case for everyone who has anxiety and may experience it on a more intense level.

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      1. I completely understand, and agree with, what you mean about how you/I would be unable to talk about anxiety in person, so support is found more readily online.

        Agreed: If only it were that simple! The reality is that people who go through it are the ones who really understand about what anxiety is, and how it affects you, and that it isn’t just a little worry that you should just ‘get over’. Those who don’t suffer from it may not fully understand, but do have the ability to be understanding of those with anxiety. I guess coping mechanisms are something you eventually manage to develop for yourself, and they may well be different for everyone.

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