It’s a Complicated BusinessI’m finding, as I get older, that I want to be more direct in how I communicate with people. I still have an issue with social anxiety and it becomes much more apparent in situations when I’m on my own. However, if I’m in a familiar situation and something needs to be said I’m finding it easier to just say it without feeling discomfort. It’s a slow process, but a freeing one.
I’ve always found discussing my personal life tricky, especially…feelings. Ugh.
Very early on, I developed a way of giving just enough that it allows for people to unload their feelings without ever really addressing mine. I find that it helps people to just get things off their chest, and people do enjoy talking about themselves when given the opportunity which I’m more than happy to facilitate. The only problem with this is that I don’t know how to turn it off, so conversations often become me absorbing other people’s thoughts, feelings, and life stories.
It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but as I’m very empathetic I tend to hold onto people’s energy whether I want to or not. It’s fine, except it’s not because all that stuff I’m holding onto piles up and up into just enough stress to push me into low mood or panic attacks. As much as I love people and care about them, there are very few people in this world whose worries are worth that kind of stress for me. So, I have some choices: learn when to switch off the part of me that coaxes conversation out of people or start talking things out so I have my own outlet. I’m working on the former, but as a writer it’s such a useful tool to have that it’s going to take me a long time to really find the balance there. What if I miss out on something truly beautiful? So, we go to the latter, and I begin to talk.
Social MediaOne personal prejudice I will admit to is that I often find it painfully uncomfortable when people share their feelings very openly and without a filter. I feel as though I’m watching something that I shouldn’t be allowed to see. Growing up, it was drummed into us to never let our business become other people’s business because that would be a disaster. Suddenly, people have all this information that they can use to judge you or throw back in your face. They have a power over you that you can’t afford for them to have. When I see people sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings on social media, for example, my brain is screaming:
What the hell are they doing? Do they know that people can see this?! Why would you want everyone to know these things about you?
It makes me cringe and feel embarrassed because I would be cringing and embarrassed if people knew that much about me.
While I know my feelings aren’t 100% healthy and borne of anxiety, I would still be cautious about how much you put out as part of your online persona. Social Media algorithms tend to create a feedback loop for people. If all you are putting onto your platforms is negativity, complaining, and misery that will be all that you end up seeing which will, in turn, make you more miserable…and the cycle continues. If anything, Social Media has more potential to be damaging to your mental health than healing. This is why I’ll always recommend journaling or close friends as a method of hashing out feelings rather than a tweet or a Facebook status.
Once a Weirdo, Always a WeirdoAnother one of my hang-ups is honestly that I’ve been a complete nerd my whole life, since before that was something you could be proud of. All the groups I’ve fallen into throughout my life have never been ones I could 100% fit into. As a result, I’ve tended to play my cards quite close to my chest out of fear that I’ll be made fun of. I feel like all this mistrust is a major part of what fuels my social anxiety.
Wow, that was weird to type out and read back to myself. However, talking my feelings out either verbally or through writing is how I’m going to learn more about myself. It’s daunting but necessary.
I’ve become more and more open with my closest group of friends over the past few years, as we’ve been through so much as a group already, there’s not much worth hiding. I feel like I encourage them to hash their feelings out with me, and they encourage the same, but I hold back out of that fear. Not only that, but I encourage people to talk their feelings out and get them outside of their own head on this very blog! I need to start practising what I preach a bit. Here’s hoping I stay on the road to progress I suppose.