Becoming so deeply infatuated with the world outside your doors–but not being able to muster up the courage to go out into it. That’s the life that you lead when you suffer from the greatest killer of a social life. Building yourself up one minute and then slowly shrinking back into your world of endless work and anime marathons. The outside world is just too fierce and uninviting to actually want to leave the warm safety of your house.
I lived this way for the past 28 years of my existence. Fearful of the outside world–always in need of someone to help me conquer it. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t live this way forever; but sometimes it’s hard to conquer a fear that runs so deep inside of you. Sometimes it’s difficult to stand up against the demon that rages deep inside every thought in your head. I wanted to stand up to it many times–but each time I did, I found myself in a dizzying array of confusion and unnerving, surreal moments. Going to the grocery store became a series of hazy, difficult quests. There were moments when I thought I was dreaming, not awake and walking amongst the masses of B.C. There were some places that I couldn’t even walk into without having a panic attack. Wal-Mart was the worst. As soon as I pulled into that parking lot the fear and anxiety set in fiercely. Walking up to the doors was just a request for a panic attack two seconds later. The disorganized mass of items on the shelves in the store created chaos in my brain. People pushing and shoving through the aisles like wild animals in search of food in a barren land.
This has pretty much summed up the whole of my social existence.
It’s funny that someone so involved in the education can be so scared of the world outside. No sideways glance or questioning stare ever gets in my way of being myself when I am in a classroom. There is something about teaching that erases all the fears I’ve had about other humans. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have an idealistic vision of these kids needing me for support,understanding and a simple smile or because I have a great passion for teaching and believe it’s the most important profession in the entire universe, but my fears never seem to rear their ugly head when I’m in the classroom.
That’s not to say that I don’t fear things within the four walls of my school. Even though I take on leadership roles and I play nice at the monthly HSA meetings, talking in front of adults and my peers frightens me worse than anything in the world. My heart beats so fast it feels like time slows down because of it’s quick speed. The palpitations come on strong and I have to remind myself that no one cares that much about what I’m going to say. I’m just another annoying person taking up five minutes of their time. Five minutes that they’ll never get back after I rant about mathematics exams and how awesome math is and how I’m a social studies teacher and it probably doesn’t make sense that I like math so much. It’s funny, but I’ve gotten away with giving the same update for 3 HSA meetings. At the end the president always says, “we love hearing from you!” —even though I say the same thing every. single. meeting. People are funny like that—I can’t tell if they are being sincere or if they are lying to me because they can see the fear on my face or they notice the speed in which I talk so that I can sit down faster.
That ambiguity is what bugs me the most. Not knowing whether people notice that I’m flipping out or if they just think I talk fast and move around a lot. If they do notice—what do they think? Do they care? Or do they just attribute it to the insane amount of social awkwardness already in our building?
Sometimes you gotta chalk it all up to being unlucky. Unlucky to have contracted this disease in your genetics. Unlucky to let it wreak havoc throughout your entire being. The constant disorder that transpires in your brain on a daily basis is so overwhelming that it physically pains you. You wake up every. single. day…hoping for a life less unbearable. A life in which every glance from another human being doesn’t mean criticism, doesn’tmean judgement—it just. means. someone looked at you.
I don’t know if there has ever been a time in my life where I felt safe around other people. Even in my most outgoing moments, the thoughts of self-doubt and loathing come withering out like a snake ready to snap up its prey. They consume me and I let them consume me. I suppose there is comfort in that feeling now. It’s become so normal and so peaceful to let the self-doubt overtake my consciousness. Why fight it when it’s become the safety that I desire? As long as I fear others and avoid them, they can’t break down my defenses.
My entire life has been dictated by these fears.