Have you ever seen a person you know from school in public and tried your best to avoid them so you do not have to greet them and make conversation with them? That was me from middle school until the beginning of 12th grade. I hated social situations. I preferred being in smaller groups of people I knew. Being in a social situation would make me very anxious and extremely fidgety. I would not know what to do with myself. When I was in a large group, I was afraid people would judge me. I would ask myself the same set of random questions in my head every time I was around a lot of people. “Is there something in my teeth?” “Is there a stain on my clothes?” “Does my breath smell okay?”
I would constantly question everything about myself because I was afraid of being judged in a negative manner. I would look around at everyone else and see how confident they were in the situation. Then there was me, a nervous wreck on the inside trying to keep it together on the outside. One day back in 7th grade, I went shopping with my dad at Walmart. As we entered the store, I saw someone I knew from school walking by. At that moment I turned in the opposite direction and started walking with plans to circle back around in hopes of avoiding running into a friend from school. My dad noticed what was happening. When I circled back, I went up to my dad and he asked me what was going on. I made up an excuse about having to use the bathroom. He then told me that he noticed what I did and said that I would have to learn to be more social or else I would have a hard time making new friends, and high school was two years away. I thought about what my dad told me for the rest of the day and realized he was right. That was the night I made a resolution to become a more sociable person. I used to be the silent one, but from that night I tried to engage in conversation with my friends and kids I knew from school. It was not easy. I still worried about being judged.
The rest of middle school went by, and I still was not fully where I wanted to be socially. High school was when things started to look up for me. Freshman year was about the same socially, as 8th grade, with very little change. The summer after freshman year was when bigger changes started happening. That was the summer I started working. The summer job helped me, immensely, to becoming more social. Jobs were randomly assigned throughout the city, so I was not able to pick and choose. I ended up as a junior counselor at a summer camp, working with other junior counselors and kids. When I got to the camp on the first day, I looked around and there were strangers everywhere. As I was waiting for work to begin, it hit me that no matter how uncomfortable it was, if I wanted to make work an enjoyable experience, I would have to put myself out there to make new friends and that is exactly what I did. I forced myself to talk to others, and to introduce myself. I was extremely uncomfortable at first because it was all very new to me.
As the weeks went by, I was feeling less uncomfortable and anxious. I had new friends and was having a blast, even though I did not know anyone in the beginning. By the end of the two months at the summer camp, it was normal for me to socialize and talk with everyone. This was a feeling of accomplishment I had been waiting to feel. It was as if I had overcome a large obstacle in life. If you feel uncomfortable in social situations, just remember, there are many others just like you. It will not go away in one day, but if you keep putting yourself out there, you will become much more comfortable. I was glad to be put to work with a bunch of strangers. It helped me achieve my resolution.
Please Note: The views of our student bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the UAlbany Advisement Services Center. These are their stories and their voices.
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