Breaking through Fear

So many times in life I wish I was able to release all feelings of anxiousness and live each moment of my life completely carefree, with no worries over the actions I should be taking and what the results of those actions will be.  I wish I could flutter about reacting to situations in life purely off instinct and intuition with no regret no matter what the outcome.  I believe such a life is possible but is only reserved for the most enlightened minds of our time.  For the rest of us this carefree life is simply an ideal goal we all strive for and the closer we come to this goal the more flowing and natural our lives seem to be, but the goal in itself will probably never be completely fulfilled.  Moments of anxiousness, guilt, regret, and fear will continue to appear.

Despite what I appear to be in social situations I suffer from a sense of social anxiety.  The anxiety emerges before social situations at many times, but as soon as the social situation begins the anxiety almost completely disappears.  Whatever predicted outcomes I fear never emerge and the situation is never nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  The situation is usually not bad at all.  You would think that after repeated experiences of anxiousness before social situations which turn out fine, I would learn from these experiences not to fear the future.  Yet I repeatedly fear what future outcomes will be, possibly fearing them because they are unknown.

The social anxiety is nothing new in my life and is probably not breaking news to anyone out there.  Intense anxiety would creep up on me before the accident especially when it came to dealing with women and trying to enter the dating world.  I’m almost positive my anxiety has increased since the accident.  Nervousness is almost guaranteed when entering a department store, going to church, or in this past weekend’s case, waiting for the party guests to arrive at my house.

I suppose we all suffer from anxiousness in life and it seems that this anxiousness may just be a part of living.  Would life be exciting if we did not grow nervous before certain social situations?  I wonder what life would be like without fear?  What would it be like if I could go up to every girl I found attractive at the moment, strike up conversation and ask for a date without reservation.  I think it would be wonderful.

I’m working hard to overcome my fears.  Several days last week I went out Christmas shopping.  As a kid Christmas was always the best time of the year because I wanted things and would probably get them.  Now that I’m older I find that I want very little but I am still yearning for that sense of Christmas spirit, so instead of wanting I am giving.  Thanks to the citizens of this wonderful country I have a bit of money which I can freely spend on others.  One Christmas shopping trip took place at a certain department store that will not mentioned so that people will not guess their presents.  When we arrived I asked my aid if he could give me some space and let me wander about the store on my own.  For some reason I was rather nervous about asking this, but of course it turned out okay and I went on my merry way.  My heart seemed to actually beat a little faster as I drove up and down the aisles once again being an independent young man immersed within society.  I discovered that even though I cannot handle many of the physical tasks of shopping, that there is a surplus of people all around me who are more than willing to help me out.  Instead of one set of hands I had 50 spread out all over the store each ready and willing to come to my assistance, some more than others but still willing.  I had no qualms about asking for others’ assistance and my aid only helped me check out at the cash register.  It was an extraordinary experience and I felt normal in a world that has seemed so separate and distant for such a long time now.  The small taste of independence only made me want more and I further realized the possibilities of becoming an individual again.

The next day I went back to the same department store because there was a CD I wanted to buy.  I told my aid I wanted to try and do it all on my own.  He put my debit card on my lap and I strolled through the front doors.  Once again my heart began to beat a little faster as I made my way towards the CD aisle.  I could not reach the CD I wanted so I asked a member of the staff to grab it for me.  Then while waiting in line I struck up a conversation with a cute blond.  The experience went no further than just a conversation but I’ll take it as an accomplishment.  From there I went to the cash register, handed him my debit card, punched in my pen number with my pencil, and bought the CD all on my own.  The feeling I felt was one of gratification which has not been felt since I can remember.  To think that such a simple thing could give me such pleasure.

The following Friday I watched Appalachian State University’s football team win the Division-I double-A national championship.  I felt an extreme sense of pride as I watched the students rush onto the field to celebrate the narrow victory.  I also once again felt slightly sad as I thought about how in another life I would be out on the field jumping up and down in jubilation.  Instead I screamed as loud as I could with a weak diaphragm and no chest muscles, and felt satisfied with that.

The next day was the day my family threw our Christmas party.  It was mostly neighbors and some friends.  If you weren’t invited and feel like you should have been, I am sorry.  Feel free to write me a nasty e-mail.  I felt odd from the moment I woke up.  For some reason I felt sad but I can’t really remember why.  I’m not sure if I knew why at the time.  Guests began arriving around 2:30 and I’m pretty sure I talked nonstop from that point on until about 6:30.  Everyone wanted to know about my life and all I’m going through.  Most hadn’t been keeping up with my blog.  I enjoyed talking with everyone but it did get somewhat overwhelming at times.  Conversations kept getting interrupted so that really most of my conversations were only on the surface level.  But that is what happens when you host parties.

From the moment I broke my neck I entered another dimension, another reality.  Right after my injury every thing seemed like a dream, nothing made sense, and I was constantly waiting to wake up.  This feeling lingered on over the months but slowly dissipated.  Recently I have broken away from this dreamlike state more so than at any time since my injury.  This stems mostly from a deeper acceptance of the fact that my injury did actually happen.  I seem to reenter this other dimension quite frequently however, especially when I break away for my regular routine such as having a party.  The entire time I was talking with people it felt as if none of it was real.  It was an enjoyable time but I couldn’t help but feel an odd sense of disconnection from reality.  Focusing on my breathing and absorbing myself into the moment helped somewhat but was ultimately unsuccessful.

I have other stories to tell but I’m done for now.  Sorry for not writing for so long.  I’m trying to release the pressure of blogging off of my shoulders somewhat and write at times I want and not write because I feel pressure to please people.


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13 Responses to Breaking through Fear

  1. Shannon says:

    Hey Colin,I too deal with those social anxieties. I have been in situations that became almost painful for no apparent reason. There was nothing wrong with the people or the topic of conversation or the atmosphere…I just couldnt handle the interaction anymore. I have no clue where these anxieties stem from, but they can be down right suffocating at times.Congrats on your new feelings of independence! I know that must have been a wonderful feeling! Keep up the great work!Happy holidays!Shannon

  2. KATIE says:

    Heya Colin,I have always dealt with anxiety attacks..I also have no clue where they come from or what really triggers them. Some are so bad that I start to hyperventate. Fun times, uh? *yeah right-grins*Way to go with your new foind independence!! That is so awesome. And a party too!! Watch out world!! Next thing we know you will be posting an entry about rushing the field after a big football game!! *grins* Never know what tomorrow will bring.Don\’t worry about pleasing anyone but yourself. I have to remind myself of that daily. Also I have to remind myself to "only stress over the things I can control and let go of the things I have no control over at all"…Its easier said than done…thats for darn sure. Anyways, Have an awesome holiday!!!Take Care, Hugs, Katie

  3. Unknown says:

    It seems like in satisfying your desire to give, you gave yourself a truly wonderful gift-a little taste of the independence that I know is in your future!Happy Holidays!Terri

  4. Tina says:

    Interesting thoughts about social situations. I, too, suffer from anxiety around them. I think its because my nature is to want to connect with people and as you said, when you are at a party conversation tends to be fairly "surface".So it sounds like you are trying to put yourself out there a little with the ladies. I think that you will find that the more that you just talk and be yourself the more that they will respond to you. You seem to have a great personality and I can tell that you were probably a bit of a flirt before your accident. Let that part of you show. The ones that dont respond to it – well who needs them….. You seem to be making good use of your aid. The fact is that you dont need him for everything and its great that you are taking the opportunity to stretch your independence.And dont stress about blogging. Blog when you feel like it. Your blogs are always worth waiting for.I hope that you have a really great holiday! Tina

  5. KATIE says:

    Hey, Just throwing it out there if you want to email…I attached it this time…Otherwise, have a great Holiday weekend!!! ~Katie

  6. Tina says:

    OK – so I have to ask……. How do you know this teacher and what is your relationship now? Is she someone that you just see around or do you know her well enough to talk to her? And what are the things that scare you about her possible saying yes?I think I can understand your fear that she might say "yes". (And of course this is only my speculation). Right now its unchartered territory for you — post accident dating. One thing that you should keep in mind that might make it easier for you is that dating is different once you are out of college. In college theres alot of drinking and partying and "hooking up" so to speak. But now that is different – and its not different because of your accident, its different because the girls that you might want to date now are professional women with jobs and most of them are "done" with the hooking up scene. So really you are in a perfect position to meet someone and establish that kind of connection. Now you have to use whats in your head to impress and from what I have seen so far you are an extremely impressive person. And dont let all the details freak you out — like how you are going to pick her up and such. Trust me, if she says yes she wont care about stuff like that…… I included my email in case you didnt want to answer my first few intrusive questions on your blog……I will give you a pep talk any time…..Tina

  7. Unknown says:

    X iOoi ioOooi ioOOOoi ioOOoOOoi ioOOOOOOoi ioOOOooOOOoi ioOOOOOOOOOoi ioOOOOoooOOOoOi ioOOoOOOOOOOOOoi IIIIIIIISeasons greetings!What Cd did you get?

  8. CallieHuggles says:

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ Huggles Colin }}}}}}}}}}}}}}You have taken Great strides towards YOU…that is a great gift to SELF….it\’s wonderful that you can feel it and recognize it…{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{big hugs }}}}}}}}}}Proud of you…the rest just comes one day at a time hun…social phobia have so many rot causes, and you said your\’s was pre-accident, so you are doing GREAT.. Keep up the good work, because you are beating it..each day, one person, at a timeWAY TO GO{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ Huggles }}}}}}}}}}}}}}callie~ lET yOUR pOSITIVE vOICE bE hEAR ~!~

  9. Patricia says:

    Hey Colin!!!! I\’m so psyched to hear about the store and shopping and expereincing that sense of independence and also getting over some of your anxiety with the blonde!!!! Yahoo!! Social anxiety can suck but luckily I don\’t have it much since my accident. Instead, I am disinhibited usually, not always but most of the time, I am constantly doing social blooper comments and people are actually really cool about it – once I mess up then they feel relaxed about their anxieties – and the conversations have been more gratifying than ever in my life. Generally, I\’ll say something wrong and immediately say -ah man, I didn\’t mean it that way what I meant was… I have done this with everyone even the mayor two weeks ago!! It is pretty funny and ends up being a conversation that is lighthearted -cause generally I either tell people or they know that I am acting from a good place in my heart. I\’ve begun to realize that there really is "no messing up" in social situations -basically I figure I do the best I can and if people don\’t like me they aren\’t gonna like me. and not everyone has to like me – in fact people are free to absolutlely not like me and that is fine – sometimes I think hmm but then I think well, not a match -I remember my adoptive aunt telling me – "ah, Patti not everyone has to like you" – I\’d never really thought about it -I guess I did want everyone to like me – but her comment felt like it was a great relief and burden off my shoulders. She told me this when I was about 18. I was pretty surprised when she said it, in fact at first offended (why wouldn\’t someone like me, I thought, WHat are you saying!!)-then I realized that I really did think that way. Anyway, long story short -from girl with brain injury – I\’ve had a lot of fun not worrying about social anxiety – the noise bothers me etc. but for the most part. ? I do love people though so I know that my not being anxious doesn\’t mean that I don\’t care about them -maybe I had that mixed up – who knows. As far as fear, I find that sometimes I perform better with a healthy dose of anticipation as far as working on something. If I am at a shoot and feel a bit of anticipation I know that I\’ve entered into a new domain and am pushing my knowledge envelope – like you leaving the store – once the task is accomplished you think yea!! So each time that task gets easier and easier until you push the next anticipatory thing -it is fun in a way to feel a flutter of butterflies! Lots of people call that love too!!I think that people that are caring will always feel a wide range of emotions and I think that is great. THey are empathetic and some of the kindest people I will ever know. I feel blessed to be around them and have every emotion including tears and disappointment be "okay" around them. They allow for others to feel what they are feeling as they too allow themselves. You are fabulous – as far as the other reality feeling I have moments where I literally wonder – did that actually happen to me? I think that somethings will always have components of that – they are hard to believe, hard to comprehend -for some reason, I wonder if it is not helpful to let time take care of this. I think that our bodies and brains do it for some reason. I don\’t know why though. well, although I just admitted to not knowing why I do sound like I\’m acting like I have all the answers – I never do – but social anxiety is one of those things that I have lots of funny bloopers to share on – I have made some great friends from being, well, unguardedly myself, some of the greatest friends. Talk to all those women!! Dare yourself!! talk to everyone! You will find some pretty amazing people when you very least expect it!! I have stood in some lines and have struck up conversations with people who really looked like they could swipe out and punch someone as they are standing quietly with a frown – two seconds after "hello" I notice that they have a great smile! – best to ya – I\’m a blog hog!!!!!!!! -hey I haven\’t talked to you in ages!!!!! – patti

  10. Anita says:

    hope your holidays where good!Have a wonderfull New Year.Anita

  11. Shannon says:

    Hi Colin!Hope you had a great holiday! Just stopping by to say hello.Take care!Shannon

  12. Tina says:

    Just thinking about you….. Hope you are doing OK.Tina

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