How to overcome social anxiety part 2
If you haven’t read part 1 yet, please do, as it contains the beginning of the story, this is my journey to overcome social anxiety. Click here to read part 1!
Let’s begin where we left off. I had just told you about my part on skipping school, and how I felt complete and utter agony while going to class, while not having a clue what was going on. As I mentioned in part 1, I had about 45% attendance in class, which is crazy low. After almost a year, my teacher finally grew tired of never seeing me in class, and he took my parents and me in for a meeting, and I think that was the first time I told them how I felt. At least I remember it that way, but I might be wrong.
Anyway, I dropped out of school just before the summer, not knowing what to do next, how to overcome social anxiety or how to handle myself we contacted the guidance counselor at the school where I dropped out. She had seen this new school system, in which you study from home on a computer… It sounded too good to be true, and it was, but more on that later.
I applied to the home school program and got in, I felt great… How it worked was like this: You got a computer, books and everything you could possibly need from the school, they sent me a full size desktop computer in a big parcel and lots of books. For this to work, everyone who attended the home school program, would have to go online at 8-9 in the morning and click a button so that the teacher would see it, and then you could download assignments and tests to do from home. Sometimes there where audio lessons from the teacher and other things we needed to do. It worked perfectly for me, could this be the thing that would make me overcome social anxiety?
Twice every 6 months we had to go to a little town called Malung, located in Dalarna, about 2,5 hours from where I lived. We had to stay there for a week and do tests, meet the teachers and other students and so on. Me being like I was, I did NOT want to go, but my parents kind of made me, and drove me all the way there, and they even walked me in to the dorm and settled me in. Me, a 17 year old boy, escorted by his parents to the first day of school, how could that help my social anxiety? Well, it turned out that I wasn’t the only one with problems, 90% of all students felt like me, and were terrified of seeing other people, let alone live with them in a dorm for a week. How could this help me overcome social anxiety?
My parents left and I was sitting in my dorm room, which I was supposed to share with another boy, but he wasn’t there yet. I started feeling the anxiety creeping up on me, the watery eyes, the stomach pains and sweating. Why was I there, where was my parents. I started shaking and feeling nauseous, I was at the brink of tears when someone knocked on the door. It was Magnus, my roommate…
Magnus came in, introduced himself and asked how I was doing. I told him that I was doing fairly OK… what a lie! He quickly saw that I was not OK, so he began introducing himself even more, telling me how he chose this school because of hit anxiety and trouble with the law. He told me about the other students (there were about 30) and how nice they were. He asked if I wanted to come meet some of them. Not knowing how to respond I said yes, still feeling nauseous and shaky hands, still wondering how to overcome social anxiety.
Magnus took me to see Benjamin, Emanuel and Henrik, three other guys who lived in the room next to us. Henrik from Skåne, Benjamin from Stockholm and Emanuel from Gävle. Three completely different people, but all with some sort of issue of their own. I started to ease up and talking and the next thing I knew I had met all 30 of the students. I actually liked this, I actually liked these people and I liked hanging out with them. I started to find the old me, I started to smile, laugh and do stupid things. Me and Magnus stole a shopping cart from a nearby supermarket and pushed each other into bushes (Jackass was big back then). All of a sudden the police arrive, and Magnus being the troublemaker he was RAN LIKE HELL…
He left me high and dry with a shopping cart in hand, with the police, in a town I had never been in before. I was terrified, haha. But the police just said that I should put the cart back and stop being stupid before I hurt myself. That is one of my favourite memories from that time.
Buuut, it wasn’t all roses and rainbows after all. Three years later, sure I had made friends, had tons of fun and even skipped one or two get togethers and the dorm because of my anxiety, reality struck again… hard. Three years, I had invested three years of my life, still broken and anxious, at that school. I hade given it my all to get better, to be better, to become my best. Reality can be a bitch sometimes, because just 3 months before graduation I got a letter in the mail. The school I had been attending for three years was not approved by the National School board.. Why? Well, the only answer we got was that because we only attended IRL classes 4 separate weeks a year, the school did not qualify to be a “real” school.
Who the hell came up with that after three years? That letter made me sink, hard! I lost everything I had built over the past years, I completely submerged myself in deep dark thoughts and I hated everything. Although, everything was not lost… for everyone else. The solution the National School Board came up with did not work for me, they said, that if we wanted our grades and graduate we had to stay the last three months of the school year at the dorm. THREE MONTHS? I had problems being away for a week as it was.
We tried talking to the people in charge, but they did not budge. Three months or no graduation! With the state I was in, with my emotions and thoughts, this were out of the question. I dropped out… again. I dropped out after three years and missed my graduation with three months, but what could I have done? I simply could not manage to stay in that dorm for three whole months, I just couldn’t
So, if we do the math.. I spent 4 years in the Gymnasium (3 years being the normal amount of time), and what did I have to show for it? Nothing…. or so I thought then, I thought I had nothing to show from those three years. But the thing is, I made friends, friends I still talk to, 15-16 years later, and for that I’m very grateful.
Even tho this was not what really made me realize that I had social anxiety, this made a huge impact on my life, even to this day. I still feel that I’m not good enough, that I have no talent or skills worth showing. In the back of my head I know that’s not true, I have grown immensely the last few years and even made a name for myself in the bearded community, but I still can’t get that feeling out of my head. Am I good enough?
I’m going to cut it here and start writing the next part. I realized when I started writing part 1, that this is gonna take awhile.
But please, do comment with your own experiences and with your thoughts. I will put a link in here to part 3 when it’s posted, and I hope you’ll read it.
This is my story and how I tried to overcome social anxiety!
(Footnote – I still talk to Emanuel, Henrik and Benjamin now and then. The three boys that greeted me at the dorm so many years ago)