Conversations and career cluelessness

Yesterday, I met up with the woman who (until recently) had been organising the SA meet up group. We just went for a walk and talked. No matter how many topics of conversation I come up with beforehand, my mind always goes completely blank and I can never think of anything to say while I’m actually in a social situation. I always feel that I lack even the most basic of social skills needed to make conversation but most of the time,  I can do all of that without any trouble when it comes to talking to family members. I can always think of new things to talk about or think of something that happened in the past – maybe on a family holiday or something – that we can talk about. Most of the time, I don’t even have to try to think about topics of conversation – they just naturally come to mind. So why is trying to make conversation with anyone outside of my family so difficult and stilted? Why does my brain abandon me at those times? Maybe it is 100% or nearly 100% due to anxiety. Or maybe it’s because I have so many shared experiences with family members and know which topics each person will and will not be interested in. I suppose my main problem is not being able to let anyone new in. I have to put my walls up or they will hurt me. Actually,I’m not sure I can even explain why letting people in and trying to show them my true self is so terrifying. I just can’t remove those barriers. There is always something in the way.

We talked mostly about our courses. She wants to drop out of her current course because it’s been making her miserable and causing her a lot of stress. And she doesn’t think she’d enjoy being a vet anyway because of all the stress and long hours involved in that. I can’t say I blame her at all. The course sounds intense and I think that it can’t really be healthy to study as much it sounds like people on her course have to study. I’d thought about becoming a vet myself but for me, it was also the intense stress and pressure of the job that put me off. I imagine that the entire life of a vet revolves around their work, more so than anything else. It seems like we’d both prefer a less stressful and more balanced job. She says that she actually wants to become a vet nurse. I’m still not sure (I don’t know if I will ever be sure) what I want to do, but being a vet nurse is still at the top of the list. The problem with that, of course, is feeling like I’ve wasted all this time in working towards my degree. There’s the option of going into the research of a particular species but it seems very difficult to get into and would probably require a PhD or at least a Masters and I don’t have much confidence in my abilities to do either of those. Even if I did, I think all that studying would melt my brain. So I don’t know what I want to do. And even if I did, the world of work terrifies me – interviews, trying to make conversations with colleagues, having to talk to customers or present your ideas to people. Maybe I’m just trying to avoid the inevitable while I can. I don’t know if there was even a particular reason for me going to university other than that it was hoped/ expected of me that I would be the first person in my family to go to university. My dad always encouraged me to go because everyone he knew who was doing well had gone to university. He wished that he had had the chance to go and maybe not end up in a job that he hates. How is having a bit a paper to wave around going to make that any less likely? I don’t know if it was ever even a choice to go to uni – I just didn’t know what else to do. Still…I AM enjoying my course and it has/ will hopefully help me a lot with my SA and with general life experience. I’m finding it interesting and enjoy learning about the subjects covered in the modules. And I’m doing well academically at university. So even if it feels like a waste, there are still some positives.

Anyway, I’ve digressed massively again. It was nice to talk to her though I’ve been beating myself up about it because my anxiety makes it very difficult for me to express enthusiasm/ emotion and my mind kept going blank during the conversation. It’s always strange being with someone else you has social anxiety and who knows you have social anxiety. Though it’s quite nice to actually be able to talk freely about things like therapy and self-help. I enjoyed talking with her; I just wish I could’ve opened up a bit more. We’ll probably meet up again in a few weeks.

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