Welcome! I too have social anxiety and have found this site so helpful!! You have taken great steps in pushing yourself to be social. I am so bad that when I come home from work on Friday night, I literally hide from the world all weekend in the house. I have a couple of people who keep on me to do things, but I get so panicked at the thought I make excuses not to go. I totally understand what you are going through and am here for yoy whenever you need it!
I'm 36 years old and married with no children (yet -- maybe in the next year or two). I've suffered with anxiety for as long as I can remember, particularly social anxiety. I love online forums because I feel much more comfortable writing my words instead of having to look at someone while saying them.
I'm the type of person who would turn bright red in class (even in grad school) if the teacher asked me a direct question and would/will stammer out an answer that sounds almost inarticulate even though the words I want to say are inside my head --- they just don't come out sounding as good. I also hate going places alone and need a friend or two to accompany me places like restaurants, movies, etc. Just recently I started being able to go shopping in stores myself, and that was a huge accomplishment for me. I've started (slightly) getting over the idea that everyone in every place is always staring at me and judging me. :)
Strangely enough, I am a middle school teacher. It was very very hard at first, but I think it has also helped me make great strides in my social anxiety and forces me to practice talking to people. Yes, I still freak out inside (and sometimes outside) when there is a confrontation with a student or parent and my anxiety becomes as plain as day, but I have learned to be a little more comfortable speaking around people. I still positively fear speaking in front of people my own age (if there are more than 2 of them present), but I can now speak to an auditorium full of 500 teenagers with little problem! (as long as I am comfortable with those 2 or less adults that are also in the room with us... ha ha ha)
So yeah, that's me (and my social anxiety) in a nutshell. Always worrying that people hate me, always worrying that people are talking about me, always worrying that I'm just not good enough. But I'm working on it. And by taking baby steps with my anxiety and improving my health (and, let's be honest, appearance) by losing weight, I am certain I will gain confidence in myself. :)
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