Overcoming social anxiety can be hard – tremendously hard!
I will now tell you my story on overcoming social anxiety, this post might get long, deep, sad, happy and a little bit of everything, but if you are ready, please read on!
First of all, if you are suffering from social anxiety and have no one to turn to, send me an email at info(a)andreasfransson.com, maybe I can help you, or at least give you some pointers on how you could overcome social anxiety. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But I do believe that you can overcome social anxiety if you put your mind too it.
Ever since I started middle school I felt a bit like an outsider, I tended to shy away from crowds and keep too myself. Most notably at the end of ninth grade, when I most of the time had my headphones on listening to music, disappearing into my own thoughts and keeping too myself. All of this was a little bit weird for me, because I were always the class clown, I had no problems with friends, I did not get bullied, I did not bully, I did not drink, smoke or do drugs. I remember having some trouble with math and Swedish, but that’s about it.
It wasn’t until I started my first year of Gymnasiet (<— Wikipedia link for info) I noticed some real changes in my behaviour. Moving up a grade meant that we had to merge with other schools from other districts into a Gymnasium (Check the Wikipedia link above) and choose our speciality classes. I chose to attend the Media Programme, which focused on editing, photographing, movies and graphic design. I also ended up in a great group with great classmates, and we had lots of fun. But this was the time I noticed that I had a hard time being alone among people for the first time, I absolutely hated going to different classes by my own, I sometimes skipped a class because I did not want to go through the halls by myself.
There were even days were I skipped lunch all together, just because I didn’t catch up with my friends before they went. I could not master the courage to go alone into the dining hall, and I had no idea why I felt this way. I had never had this problem before, I even dreamt about being on stage singing, becoming a movie star or stand up comedian. The latter I just practice at home, and my girlfriend loves my comedy *insert sarcasm*, haha. But anyway, this kept on going, I thought that is would pass and get better, but it didn’t. One feeling I had was that everyone was looking at me, that I had something on my face or I was dressed funny, I can still remember those feelings of constantly feeling watched, but no one was watching, it was all in my head.
I started skipping school, A LOT. Every month you get a allowance from the government here in Sweden, it is given to students for basic necessities like books, clothes, food etc. What ever you want to spend them on. At that time the allowance was about 100 USD a month, and to be eligible for that you need a 85% attendance at school. When I was at my worst and dropped out, my attendance was at 45%…. But in some way I still got that allowance, because my teacher liked me and saw potential in me, so he never reported me not being there most of the time.
I don’t think I have ever told this story to anyone before, but I spent my days hanging out in a big hallway at my old school, just before the dining hall. It was pretty calm and not many people walked through there, other then around lunch time, but by then when a teacher or janitor asked why I was there, I just said that I was waiting for the bus or that I waited for a friend. No one suspected me being an utter shut-in with darker and darker thoughts. I still remember where I used to sit, with my walkman and later portable CD player, listening to music over and over again. I sat with my back up against a window for hours…
At 07.30 in the morning I hopped on the school bus which arrived at my old school at around 07.50. At 08.10 the next bus, taking us to the Gymnasium arrived, but most of the times I never got on. I went to the hallway in the dining area, sat on a marble stone bench leaned up against the window. I sat there until 3 in the afternoon… That’s when the school bus home arrived. I hopped on, went home and threw my backpack in my room and went to eat dinner with my family. They never suspected anything. (I think)
When they used to ask me about my day I mostly mumbled something like “Yeah, it was ok” and continued eating. I think I acted pretty normal at home to be honest, and I never had any thoughts that I was sick or that I ever needed overcoming social anxiety. Heck, I don’t even knew what that word even meant back then. This is when I was 16-17 years old by the way, and that was the start of a very long journey, many sleepless nights, many tears and feelings of despair of overcoming social anxiety.
I think I’ll hold on here, and write another post about the next step in my journey of overcoming social anxiety. Remember, do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email if you have any questions.
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