Reflections on 2014 and goals for the future

Two of my three siblings are out at parties tonight. My youngest sister was also supposed to be going out with her friends tonight but went out last night instead. I usually feel awful on Hogmanay because it seems like everyone else is out partying with friends and having a good time, and it also serves as a reminder of how different I am to other people and how much my SA impacts upon my life. Tonight though, I’m quite content to spend Hogmanay with my mum and sister, watching films, eating Chinese takeaway, and maybe having a couple of drinks, if I feel like it. I realise that I’m a lot luckier than many people with SA in having family members that I get on with and can spend New Year’s Eve with. My heart goes out to anyone with SA or depression who is feeling alone or miserable tonight. I wish I had a way of making you feel better. I wish I had a way of finding you all friends and partners so you wouldn’t feel so alone.

I’ve accepted that although not having friends or a partner to celebrate with saddens me, it won’t necessarily always be this way. I read this article yesterday and I was astounded by the author’s positivity. Most of us would probably fall apart if that were to happen to us, or at least be very bitter and angry that such a thing had happened to us. This part of the article particularly stood out to me: “We cannot change everything that happens to us, but we can change the way we experience it”. I spend so much time hating the fact that I have SA and wondering: Why did I have to be this way? Why me? (Thoughts that seem rather petty in comparison to what the author of that article is going through). While I am trying my best to overcome my social anxiety, I think acceptance is a big part of that battle. Acceptance that this is the way my life is and that there’s no point in obsessing over how different my life would be if I weren’t this way, because that life is a figment of my imagination. This is the life I’ve been given and I must try my best to make the most of the cards I’ve been dealt. I may always have social anxiety disorder, but if I can overcome it to the point where it no longer prevents me from having friendships, relationships and from getting a job that I want, I think I’ll be content.

I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve achieved this year and what I’d like to accomplish next year. My SA-related accomplishments in 2014 included:

  • Going along to 2 different job interviews (one of which involved group work and a presentation)
  • Doing a telephone interview and getting the job + good feedback (this job involved interacting with customers and being in the crowds during a sale)
  • Going along to 2 new meetup groups
  • Braving a busy pub and buying myself a drink for the first time
  • Surviving a week-long residential trip as part of my course, and doing an informal interview, ice-breaker activity, and getting up in front of everyone on the course (even if I didn’t have a speaking part in the presentation). I also went along to the party/ social gathering on the last night there.
  • Undertaking an assessed interview as part of my course
  • Joining a conservation volunteering group
  • Got myself a weekend job for a while (I had to phone the employer to get the job, and I kept going along to the job, despite the sickening amount of anxiety I felt every morning before working there).
  • Went along to, and took part in, a networking workshop at uni. (Though I didn’t manage to go to the networking event).

My SA-related goals for 2015:

  • Go to the cinema by myself. (I need to see more films and I’ve never been to the cinema by myself before. The thought of doing so fills me with dread).
  • Give a propranolol-free presentation. I apparently have a non-assessed presentation as part of my course next term, so it would be good if I could manage it without beta-blockers this time. I will probably have a panic attack, and feel that I will make an idiot of myself if I do, but I will also be very proud of myself if I can manage it.
  • Give online dating a proper try (though the thought of going on an actual date makes me sick to the stomach).
  • Go along to as many meetups as I can, and maybe join a couple of new groups.
  • Pass my driving test (I was originally supposed to sit it in October but had to cancel due to having so much coursework. I rebooked it for January but the DVLA have informed me that they’ve had to rebook it for February. No idea why. Hopefully I’ll pass the first time but I’ll keep trying if I don’t).
  • Find the courage to go along to my university’s annual networking event.
  • Get myself a part-time job.

That’s all I can think of right now but I’ll probably come up with more later.

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