Life with social anxiety.

Drawing by user: 12littlegiant21 on DeviantArt.

I once read somewhere that social anxiety is self consciousness on steroids. That’s actually a pretty perfect description of it.

I’m not very good with people. If you don’t start the conversation, it’s very likely that we won’t have one. Every day activities like ordering a coffee or purchasing groceries can be extremely difficult for me. I live with a fear that I’m being judged. That if I slip up, that if I am not perfect, people are going to remember that, that it’s what I’ll be known for… forever.

People who know me describe me as quiet. And most days, I’d describe myself that way too. I’m quiet to those who don’t know me. I’m quiet because I worry – about what they think of me, about being enough for them, about not being an embarrassment.

People who don’t know me often describe me as having permanent resting bitch face. They say that I come across as cold and… uninterested. I listen, I hear, I understand, I just… don’t know what to say back when they talk to me. I stare blankly into the abyss hoping for something to come to mind, but it never does.

Small talk is awful. I mean downright awful. Having a simple conversation with someone – a coworker, a bank teller, the bus driver, anyone really… it takes a great deal of effort for me. Effort that quite often comes across with people believing me to be a closed off shell of a human being.

Some days are better than others. But some days, it’s all I can do to not live in terror of my non-existent flaws. Because they’re there. You may not be able to see them but I can definitely feel them.

I overthink absolutely everything. Even the smallest of interactions can send me into a fiery spiral of anxious energy that I don’t know how to control. It’s something that can keep me hiding in my house for days at a time. And I wouldn’t tell you if that was the case. I’d simply either not answer your calls or, make up excuses to try and convince you (and myself) otherwise.

I can say that their words don’t matter to me, that they have no value and there is no stock in what they say, but they still hurt. As much as I don’t want them to, some words cut like a knife.

There are handful of people in this world I feel truly understand me. Those who love me, those who appreciate me, those who tell me things like ‘I’m robbing the world of the chance to know me’, because they know I don’t like meeting new people. They know I have a hard time with human interaction. They know I’m afraid of what people will think and they love me anyway. That, well that’s the kind of love they don’t write books about. That’s the kind of acceptance I think we all seek to find.

I believe that people sense I’m a good listener. I think they can tell that I’m hearing them when they speak… not just ignoring them and moving on but actually processing their words. I think it’s irony in a sense… being terrified of human interaction whilst people find you to be the best listener they know. And yes, I know I just misused the word irony.

The most frustrating part of social anxiety is that I know I’m being irrational. I know the decisions that I make and the actions that I choose are not those of a rational human being. I can’t help it though. I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’ve had anxiety for longer than I knew what anxiety was.

Social anxiety is hard to explain. If you’ve never experienced it, you might not understand why I don’t want to go out in public without my headphones. You might not understand why I try to get into and out of public places as quickly as I can, why I try to avoid conversations with absolutely everyone at all costs. I’m an introvert, but it’s so much more than that.

I’m trying to remind myself that there will come a day when people see me for me. When I allow them into my world without fearing what they think. I’m trying to believe that there will come a day when I set the standard, when I am the rule and not the exception, when I can play ‘Words With Friends’ without worrying if they’re really my friend. I’m trying to convince myself that I can overcome this feeling, that the anxiety won’t always win.

Until then, please go easy on me. Because like I mentioned earlier, if you don’t start the conversation, it’s very likely that we won’t have one…

Unemployment is exhausting on the body, mind and soul.

Another day, another setback.

I first had a phone interview with a company on July 3rd. They had liked me so much that I had a Skype interview with the same company on July 10th.

Then I was told they needed a week to continue interviews with other candidates and they’d get back to me. I was told I’d hear from them regarding a decision on July 17.

On July 19th, I sent an email and said ‘Hey, haven’t heard from you guys, just wondering if there are any updates’, in a professional manner. Less than ten minutes later they wrote back and said ‘Hey, we’d like for you to have a skype interview with our CEO. He has a busy schedule though, we’ll get back to you when we know he’s available for an interview’.

On July 22 they sent me an email that said the CEO would be available to do a Skype interview with me on August 6. More than two weeks away, and more than a month after my initial phone interview.

I ain’t got nowhere to go. My job offer had been rescinded on July 11, so it’s not like I had many choices. I agreed to call them on Skype on August 6 at 11 am and asked that if a time came up prior to that point they let me know because I’d love to speak with their CEO sooner.

I waited my turn. I continued applying for jobs, arranging interviews, wasting my time filling out assessment tests that explain nothing more than a candidates deductive reasoning skills. I’ve not been sitting on my butt. I’ve genuinely been trying as I waited for August 6th.

August 6th finally arrives.

As I’m straightening my hair and putting on my makeup this morning I hear my phone beep with an email that’s come through.

9:55 am I receive an email that says “We’re so sorry to do this to you but we have to cancel. An emergency came up and we won’t be able to have the interview this morning. – M”

ALRIGHT. At this point you’re just screwing with me. You’re wasting my time and you just don’t give a fuck.

Honestly, I’m so tired of these games. If you’ve got another candidate you’ve offered the job to, that’s fine. Stop lying to me. If you actually had an emergency in which you have enough time to email me, you’d say “We’ll reschedule”. If you actually cared about me as a candidate whatsoever, you’d say “We’ll be in touch” or something of the sort. But nothing. No “We’ll call you”… noooo language whatsoever that’ll allow me to believe I’ll ever hear from this company again.

I feel like this is the unemployment version of a breakup where… instead of breaking up with you they play stupid games with you in hopes that you get fed up and walk away.

Sometimes I wonder

How I wound up in this family.

Yes, they’re my family. I accept them, I appreciate them and I love them.

But, damn… how did I wind up in this family? They’re nothing like me. I couldn’t be farther from the person they want me to be. I couldn’t be farther from someone who fits into this family. Our opinions, our views, or values, our… everything is so vastly different. How did this happen?

This is not a new feeling. It’s been going on my entire life. I think the feeling is just getting harder and harder to deal with.

We’ve been butting heads more and more in the recent weeks. It’s really difficult to wander around all day, every day just trying to keep my mouth shut as a means to prevent fights. I’m so tired of keeping my mouth shut. When someone is so clearly wrong and so blatantly out of line, it’s hard to not say anything.

I just feel as though I try so hard to be considerate towards them and that’s never returned. It’s never returned.

I’m just so tired. Everything seems harder to deal with when you’re just this tired of everyone.

Bitter Betty

I’ve come to realize that I have serious issues with trusting anyone. Sadly, though I think I’ve been this way for a while, it’s only recently that I’ve realized the extent to which it affects my life.

I don’t trust people. I don’t. When people speak to me, I hear the words they’re saying and I don’t accept them. Why? Because they don’t mean anything to me. Call that jaded, call that whatever you please, but the truth is that everybody lies. They lie, misinform, mishandle the truth, and they expect you to believe it.

I don’t know why it is that so many people lie to me. Perhaps they think I’m incredibly naive, or perhaps they just don’t care about me at all… whatever it is, I seem to walk around with a ‘Lie to Me’ stamp on my forehead.

There comes a certain point in life that you’ve been lied to so many times, it won’t matter if someone speaks the truth. It just won’t matter anymore.


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Adventures in job hunting

Shortly after I was fired from my last position I applied for a relatively large position within a relatively large company that’s head offices are in Canada but operates in 80 different countries.

In late January they contacted me to let me know they were considering me for the position and would like to have a phone interview. I know, amazing! Right?

I said Yes. We set a date for a phone interview, which happened to be the next day. I chatted with the HR Manager, and wowed him (or at least I thought that I did) so much so that he was talking about plane tickets to come for an interview and asked me if I could do a skype call with the Department head.

I said sure!

Another HR Manager contacted me one hour later. She wanted to set up a meeting via skype with the department head. I said ‘I am free, WHENEVER!’ Well, I said it with pizzazz, but without desperation. I was excited. The prospect of landing a job like this made me feel as though I’d be on an upward swing.

I had the Skype Meeting with the department head and I thought that it went really great. We chatted for quite a long time and she asked me everything under the sun. I thought I rocked it.

Given how good my chat with the HR Manager went in the morning, I thought they were, for sure, going to invite me out for an in-person interview.

The second HR Manager, the one who set up the meeting with the department head, told me ‘we’ll be in touch’.

A week went by, heard nothing. I sent a nice, polite, email asking if they wanted references. The second HR Manager said ‘we’ll be in touch’.

Another week went by. At this point I thought ‘I obviously am no longer being considered.’ I was bummed, but, the thing about job hunting is that you get used to rejection for no reason, and to companies unwilling to communicate with you about it.

Finally, three and a half weeks after my phone and skype interviews, I got an email from the second HR Manager that said ‘Thanks for your time Victoria, we’ve already hired for this position’.

I asked for some feedback of what I could do better next time around and I got nothing from her. I wasn’t surprised by this, but I had to try.

Naturally I was disappointed. This was going to be my upward swing. That being said, I needed to continue with my drawing board. For this whole three and a half week period I was applying for other jobs so I just told myself that I needed to continue that.

Last week, for shits and giggles, I submitted my resume to the “General Submission of Resume” section of their website.

I didn’t expect anything to come from it. I more-so just wanted to remind them of who they passed up.

Last night I got an email from the second HR Manager. The one who didn’t communicate with me for three weeks on end. She said ‘Thanks for applying for ‘said position I applied for in January’, we’d like to know if you’d be available for an interview next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Confused, because I’d already been passed up for this position and, this time around, submitted my resume to general submission, I immediately thought ‘They don’t remember interviewing me!’

I emailed her back and said ‘Just to clarify, because I submitted my resume to the general submision section, is this the position that I was interviewed for in late January/early February?’

I got an email back this morning that says ‘Right, Victoria! I will remind the department head that they’ve already interviewed you and ask if they’d like to do a second interview and that we can skip the first.”

THEY TOTALLY DIDN’T REMEMBER THEY’D INTERVIEWED ME.

THEY ALSO TOLD ME THEY’D HIRED FOR A POSITION THEY NEVER HIRED FOR.

WHY?

WHY?

WHY?

WHAT’S THE POINT IN LYING? You could have just told me the truth… you weren’t hiring.

Also, if I wasn’t qualified for this job (in your opinion) for you a month and a half ago, why would you consider me qualified now?

Ups and downs of anxiety

Out of nowhere last night a massive anxiety attack took over and I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I started wiping away little tears quickly to try and not let anyone notice that I was crying, though I felt that at any second I could burst out into full on tears, bawling my eyes out. The worst part of the situation was that I had no idea why.

Things were great yesterday! I had a really, really nice day. Right around the time we started making dinner though, I started feeling uneasy. Something just felt off. I think a part of me started fearing that something bad was about to happen – but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

That’s where I struggle with anxiety most. There are times when I get anxious and I have a clear, concise indication of what is making me anxious. Then, there are times that I get anxious where I really don’t understand what is wrong. Yes, I do have a few more stresses in my life right now than I would like, but we all have to play the cards we’re dealt in life. I just wish when things like this happened that I knew what was the cause. Because at least, if I knew what the cause was, I could take steps to try and fix it.

So many people in this world suffer from anxiety, and I know that. Last night though, last night was one of those nights where I just felt as though I was alone in the universe. I guess that’s how it goes, though. There’s ups and downs and you just have to roll with the punches.