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I really need to get my social skills back


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I don't think this has to do with socializing or social skills or wanting friends. It's simply you like being the center of attention and being able to have others see you feeling comfortable and react in a way that validates it. That's only one small part of being a friend and if it's a focus then I can imagine it would be hard to be a good friend since it's a very self-absorbed focus. How much of your focus is on wanting other people to be comfortable in their own skin around you whether they're interacting with you or paying attention to you at that moment or not. Sounds like you miss others noticing you, paying attention to you, being "astonished" at you or some big reaction - not that you are curious about what makes people tick, want to get to know people in depth potentially if a good friend, want to be supportive to someone who is also supportive to you, etc.

Unfortunately you are stuck in an idealized past from 20 Years ago. And keep repeating how it was, what you were, etc. That in itself warrants a visit to a doctor. Who are "they"? Now you are middle aged man, not a teen. Are there any students in your age group?

Well, most people want to feel noticed and validated.

 

Also, hanging out with people similarly to how I did as a teenager is a timeless lifestyle, and if I keep noticing that I feel much, much better when I end up in anything even remotely approaching a casual conversation with people, then that's worth striving for.

My mother is 57 years old and she still goes to parties with lots of friends whenever she gets the chance and has casual relationships with men, and that certainly seems a million times more interesting then my own current life at university at the moment.

 

Most of my classmates are around 20-24 years old, but that shouldn't be a problem;

I knew a few students in my original class from a few years ago who were slightly older than me (they were about 32 years old at that time, while other students were in their early 20's) and they still hung out with a lot of the much younger classmates there just fine.

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Well, most people want to feel noticed and validated.

 

Of course at times but it actually has little to do with social skills -social skills have to do with how you interact with other people, not about being noticed or validated. Certainly one factor in a healthy friendship is that you feel your friend notices you and is supportive when you need support. But that's only one small part of what makes a healthful friendship

 

I'm 53 and I'm not sure what age has to do with social life -my mom is 84 and has an active social life because she wants one. My sister is 58 and is more introverted and is content with having only a few close friends. Nothing to do with age.

 

I think early 20s is a different stage than your age so that might be one of the issues here.

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Well, most people want to feel noticed and validated.

 

Of course at times but it actually has little to do with social skills -social skills have to do with how you interact with other people, not about being noticed or validated. Certainly one factor in a healthy friendship is that you feel your friend notices you and is supportive when you need support. But that's only one small part of what makes a healthful friendship

 

I'm 53 and I'm not sure what age has to do with social life -my mom is 84 and has an active social life because she wants one. My sister is 58 and is more introverted and is content with having only a few close friends. Nothing to do with age.

 

I think early 20s is a different stage than your age so that might be one of the issues here.

The biggest "roadblock" for me at the moment is that I very easily feel awkward in front of other people, and feel that I don't have any "backbone".

I often find myself mumbling or stuttering if the conversations take an unexpected turn, like for example if I am about to pay for a gym card at my school and then there is some problem with something - that can throw me off very easily and make me insecure.

I also usually feel very tense, and find it hard to speak with a strong and clear voice, although for some reason I become much, much more confident when I speak in front of the class and things like that.

 

But like I said, I tried a weird experiment a few months ago where I stayed up all night just to make myself more chill and laidback as a result of sleep deprivation when I was a guitarist in an ensemble orchestra - because that's how I become when I am sleep-deprived;

I guess that it is similar to being alcohol-intoxicated.

That worked very well when I tried it, and I found myself being a lot more relaxed and making a much more positive impression - I even noticed next time I met them that they were more comfortable around me, and that felt great.

But of course I would prefer to be able to get into this state without making myself sleep-deprived every time, lol.

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So I'm still hearing a ton of self-absorption -you're so wrapped up in how you're perceived, getting noticed, getting validated, how you sound - do you realize most people are far too concerned with the impression they are making to focus on you? You will have backbone when you feel comfortable in your own skin and don't need all this attention and validation. Also, public speaking is mostly separate from social skills. My husband is introverted and a great public speaker.

As far as speaking with a clear strong voice how about instead try to do 80% listening -and I mean listening where you are not rehearsing the next thing you want to say or worrying about how you look or sound -and when you have something valuable to contribute -hopefully a follow up question - I bet your voice will reflect that.

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So I'm still hearing a ton of self-absorption -you're so wrapped up in how you're perceived, getting noticed, getting validated, how you sound - do you realize most people are far too concerned with the impression they are making to focus on you? You will have backbone when you feel comfortable in your own skin and don't need all this attention and validation. Also, public speaking is mostly separate from social skills. My husband is introverted and a great public speaker.

As far as speaking with a clear strong voice how about instead try to do 80% listening -and I mean listening where you are not rehearsing the next thing you want to say or worrying about how you look or sound -and when you have something valuable to contribute -hopefully a follow up question - I bet your voice will reflect that.

Yes I am aware that I should focus more on paying attention to other things than myself, it's just really hard to avoid falling into that self-absorbed state where I worry about myself because that's what I have been doing for several years now.

 

My social skills also depend a lot on the situation;

I can have relaxed conversations with people once one of us have started on a topic that I am reasonably interested in, and then have long discussions about that with no problem.

So it's a little bit diffuse sometimes, but basically I need more practice in avoiding those self-absorbed thoughts and being more relaxed among people in general.

 

At the moment, I think it might be better for my overall well-being to try improving on the things that don't necessarily have anything to do with social interactions.

I have had a break from strength training for several months now and became a member again just a couple hours ago, so that's what I will start with tomorrow first of all.

Then from there, I guess I can basically take any opportunity to speak with people when I feel some certain motivation to do that, like if I want to ask some classmates about something that seems hard in the course or something like that, or maybe give my own advice about something that someone is talking about and that I have got the hang of myself - instead of feeling that I "should" talk to them every lecture.

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Hanging around a bunch of 20 somethings is a huge part of the problem. You need friends in your own age groups and life stage. You can start this by volunteering and developing some interests and joining some groups and clubs.

Most of my classmates are around 20-24 years old, but that shouldn't be a problem

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Yes I am aware that I should focus more on paying attention to other things than myself, it's just really hard to avoid falling into that self-absorbed state where I worry about myself because that's what I have been doing for several years now.

 

My social skills also depend a lot on the situation;

I can have relaxed conversations with people once one of us have started on a topic that I am reasonably interested in, and then have long discussions about that with no problem.

So it's a little bit diffuse sometimes, but basically I need more practice in avoiding those self-absorbed thoughts and being more relaxed among people in general.

 

At the moment, I think it might be better for my overall well-being to try improving on the things that don't necessarily have anything to do with social interactions.

I have had a break from strength training for several months now and became a member again just a couple hours ago, so that's what I will start with tomorrow first of all.

Then from there, I guess I can basically take any opportunity to speak with people when I feel some certain motivation to do that, like if I want to ask some classmates about something that seems hard in the course or something like that, or maybe give my own advice about something that someone is talking about and that I have got the hang of myself - instead of feeling that I "should" talk to them every lecture.

 

Lots of things are hard. So what? If it's worth it you do it. So do you have a natural curiosity about people? What they like, don't like, how they think, what their lives have been like, where they like to travel, eat, see theater, etc? Yes it's fine to ask a classmate about things you are studying -that is an interaction focused on you and your needs. Many people are helpful/like to help and that often has nothing to do with developing a friendship. Yes, it's good to give advice if a person asks you for your advice. Giving unsolicited advice especially to someone you don't know well can come across as overbearing and not that friendly.

 

I like the idea of strength training of course - often if you work on your body you then feel more confident overall!

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Lots of things are hard. So what? If it's worth it you do it. So do you have a natural curiosity about people? What they like, don't like, how they think, what their lives have been like, where they like to travel, eat, see theater, etc? Yes it's fine to ask a classmate about things you are studying -that is an interaction focused on you and your needs. Many people are helpful/like to help and that often has nothing to do with developing a friendship. Yes, it's good to give advice if a person asks you for your advice. Giving unsolicited advice especially to someone you don't know well can come across as overbearing and not that friendly.

 

I like the idea of strength training of course - often if you work on your body you then feel more confident overall!

Yeah, I visited the gym earlier today, and that wasn't a problem, so it feels good to get that part of my life going again.

 

One annoying problem that I find myself having among people, though, is that due to my overall insecurity among them I very easily feel judged when I receive eye contact from someone who looks grave or serious in some way - it is a bit draining for me to get eye contact with someone who has that grave look, because it gives me the feeling that they dislike my presence or something, kind of as if their eyes as saying "what are you doing here?", which is kinda weird since nobody actually knows me and I haven't done anything that would give me a bad reputation in any way.

My solution to this problem has been to avoid all eye contact with everyone and mind my own business as much as I can, but this feels a bit weird.

Of course, they might look grave because I might look slightly tense and uncomfortable, and thus simply react to that and feel a bit uncomfortable themselves.

 

I know that I didn't have any problem with, for example, making eye contact with girls and giving them a playful smile when I was a teenager;

I just treated it as some innocent flirting, and if they looked a bit grave in the beginning then I would just try to make them feel comfortable with me by holding eye contact with them for a while and giving them a kind smile, so that maybe they became willing to smile themselves (which did work a lot of the time, and that always felt great), and I felt that I had full control over those kinds of situations - and if they didn't respond the way I wanted to then I would just think to myself "alright, no problem" and leave.

I remember that one of my main role models back then was Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic", and I had randomly decided to try flirting with girls the way he is flirting with the character Rose early in that movie the first time he sees her, and I got fairly good at it after a while.

This is a lot harder right now, since I don't have that encouraging energy from a social network with lots of friends to fall back on, but I guess that going to the gym and improving as many things as possible in my life will help with that.

 

I still consider visiting the school's night club this weekend - definitely on either Friday or Saturday.

I also consider re-joining that ensemble orchestra that I used to be a member of, since that has been one of my best chances to actually have conversations with people at my school in the last couple years.

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See a doctor for a complete evaluation. There is no reason to suffer this way and analyse every "grave look" etc.

I know that I didn't have any problem with, for example, making eye contact with girls and giving them a playful smile when I was a teenager;

I just treated it as some innocent flirting, and if they looked a bit grave in the beginning then I would just try to make them feel comfortable with me by holding eye contact with them for a while and giving them a kind smile

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"I still consider visiting the school's night club this weekend - definitely on either Friday or Saturday.

I also consider re-joining that ensemble orchestra that I used to be a member of, since that has been one of my best chances to actually have conversations with people at my school in the last couple years."

 

So when you join a group of people chatting -what "are" you doing there -why are you there and are you inserting yourself into a more private convo even if it's a group?

 

I think you need to look at flirting/romantic interest as a separate category from how to interact with people socially for the purpose of being involved in an activity, getting to know the person better, or both.

 

I quoted above because those are great ways to meet likeminded people!

 

Do you think you have an approachable vibe/energy? How is your body language and posture? Can you work on faking it till you make it -not with flirting, I mean with having a more relaxed, open, approachable demeanor.

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I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself, take baby steps, someone gave great advice on how to be more approachable. Try to accept it will take some time to improve your social skills, and maybe dwell less on the past, there's no way you can be exactly the same person as you were at high school, but it doesn't mean you can't feel good in your own skin as an adult.

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I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself, take baby steps, someone gave great advice on how to be more approachable. Try to accept it will take some time to improve your social skills, and maybe dwell less on the past, there's no way you can be exactly the same person as you were at high school, but it doesn't mean you can't feel good in your own skin as an adult.

Yes, basically I am just aiming to get back my relaxed personality that I had back then.

I think that the fact that my teenage self could easily make eye contact with girls and casually flirt with them without feeling the least bit awkward summarises quite well what kind of social level that I am aiming for - because if you are gonna be able to do something like that in a relaxed and effortless way then you generally need to feel very confident in yourself and have a light-hearted personality, otherwise it will just feel stiff and awkward.

So I will definitely know that I have made some significant progress when I start noticing that I can do that again.

 

I have started going to the gym again (I will go there in a couple hours, actually), so it feels good to have started doing that again, and I will try visiting the school's night club this Saturday and basically just hang out there for maybe 20-30 minutes without demanding anything more than that from myself on my first visit.

Then I might go there again the weekend after that and try ordering something at the bar desk or something, and work my way up in those environments as well.

I might even find some sort of activity there somewhere, and meet people that way.

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Yes, basically I am just aiming to get back my relaxed personality that I had back then.

I think that the fact that my teenage self could easily make eye contact with girls and casually flirt with them without feeling the least bit awkward summarises quite well what kind of social level that I am aiming for - because if you are gonna be able to do something like that in a relaxed and effortless way then you generally need to feel very confident in yourself and have a light-hearted personality.

 

I have started going to the gym again (I will go there in a couple hours, actually), so it feels good to have started doing that again, and I will try visiting the school's night club this Saturday and basically just hang out there for maybe 20-30 minutes without demanding anything more than that from myself on my first visit.

Then I might go there again the weekend after that and try ordering something at the bar desk or something.

 

So this isn't about social skills that are geared toward getting to know people in a meaningful way, or geared toward wanting others to be comfortable around you. You want to be able to flirt with "girls" in a relaxed way. That's not about friendship or even general social skills. You used to be able to attract "girls" because you gave off a confident, relaxed vibe. But teenage girls are not the same as adult women. When I was a teenage girl I loved male attention/flirting for its own sake so I was much more likely to react to it and welcome it than when I matured, got more selective, didn't need the male attention in that way. Going to a night club is about meeting younger girls at your school, right? Not about social skills or making friends or even meeting likeminded people. The issue is that if there are teenage girls there they will not be comfortable most likely with the age gap and if you treat adult women like girls who like to flirt with any number of cute guys they're not going to go for that if they have reasonable self confidence.

 

Just because you can flirt with girls doesn't mean you have self-confidence generally. My suggestion -keep working out, find some volunteer opportunities at or outside of school that are more likely to involve adults your age, and interact with people in a natural way -because you'll all be involved in the same goal/activity.

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So this isn't about social skills that are geared toward getting to know people in a meaningful way, or geared toward wanting others to be comfortable around you. You want to be able to flirt with "girls" in a relaxed way. That's not about friendship or even general social skills. You used to be able to attract "girls" because you gave off a confident, relaxed vibe. But teenage girls are not the same as adult women. When I was a teenage girl I loved male attention/flirting for its own sake so I was much more likely to react to it and welcome it than when I matured, got more selective, didn't need the male attention in that way. Going to a night club is about meeting younger girls at your school, right? Not about social skills or making friends or even meeting likeminded people. The issue is that if there are teenage girls there they will not be comfortable most likely with the age gap and if you treat adult women like girls who like to flirt with any number of cute guys they're not going to go for that if they have reasonable self confidence.

 

Just because you can flirt with girls doesn't mean you have self-confidence generally. My suggestion -keep working out, find some volunteer opportunities at or outside of school that are more likely to involve adults your age, and interact with people in a natural way -because you'll all be involved in the same goal/activity.

Well that wasn't what I meant, I just meant that I would notice a significant improvement if I started being able to flirt like that again, since this is something that I currently feel very awkward about doing, regardless of whether those girls are my age or not - and I think that one big reason for this is because I still need to work on a lot of things regardless my social life in general.

And my planned visits at the school's night club are only meant to be a way for me to get used to hanging out in those environments, and exposing myself to "new" situations.

I am actually not sure if I even want to get any encounters with girls on my first visit - I did go to that night club one time when I spent time with my classmates from my original class (I was 28 years old when I did that - I study a 5-year program and I had to retake my second year), and at one point I went up to the bar desk and ordered something and got approached by two girls that I had never seen before who tried to talk, and I was extremely brief and tried to find an excuse to go back to my classmates, so that wasn't even a pleasant experience.

I could feel awkward in a similar way in those situations when I was a teenager as well, but those times it felt more like a funny situation that I found mildly amusing, whereas that scenario at the night club made me feel like "seriously, I am not in the mood for this, just let me go" inside.

But I think that this is a part of my general discomfort in social situations.

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You don't see an issues with a 33 y/o middle aged man trying to act like a 16 y/o?

I am just aiming to get back my relaxed personality that I had back then.

I think that the fact that my teenage self could easily make eye contact with girls and casually flirt with them without feeling the least bit awkward

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You don't see an issues with a 33 y/o middle aged man trying to act like a 16 y/o?

The girls at my university are at least 19 years old, and a lot of them are around 25-30.

But that's not my actual goal, I just said that one difference that I have noticed is that I could flirt with girls much more effortlessly when I was a teenager, and that skill is not related to age.

I consider it a sign that I was on some level more comfortable among people in general when I was a teenager, and I am planning on re-developing that relaxed attitude among people.

 

I also remember that I had a super-relaxed attitude in front of cashiers when I went shopping, in fact to the point that I almost always managed to make them smile and seem delighted by my presence.

This is another personality trait that I am trying to work on.

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I think your discomfort has to do with the following:

-unrealistic expectations that your personality, social skills, demeanor are the same as when you were a teenager. Apples/oranges.

- trying to make friends in environments that don't make much sense - nightclubs are the hardest, for example.

- thinking that facility at flirting or making a cashier laugh means you have social skills that are related to forming true and meaningful friendships. Just like some introverted people are great public speakers (my husband for example) - social skills as you describe doesn't mean you're necessarily comfortable in all environments or self-confident.

 

I'd avoid nightclubs and try to stretch out of your comfort zone by doing volunteer work and continue going to the gym.

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I think your discomfort has to do with the following:

-unrealistic expectations that your personality, social skills, demeanor are the same as when you were a teenager. Apples/oranges.

- trying to make friends in environments that don't make much sense - nightclubs are the hardest, for example.

- thinking that facility at flirting or making a cashier laugh means you have social skills that are related to forming true and meaningful friendships. Just like some introverted people are great public speakers (my husband for example) - social skills as you describe doesn't mean you're necessarily comfortable in all environments or self-confident.

 

I'd avoid nightclubs and try to stretch out of your comfort zone by doing volunteer work and continue going to the gym.

Yeah I realise that people are generally different as adults compared to when they were teenagers;

however, you can still have a certain "core personality" that works perfectly fine in all stages of life, and that feels most natural to different people.

And I have noticed very clearly that I feel a whole lot better about myself when I get good opportunities to talk to people in a relaxed way, and that's also what I was a lot like throughout pretty much my entire childhood and adolescence, and I keep finding myself feeling my best when I get into that "state".

In fact, I think I have already started to feel slightly more relaxed when I interact with people, and that's definitely quite encouraging.

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Yeah I realise that people are generally different as adults compared to when they were teenagers;

however, you can still have a certain "core personality" that works perfectly fine in all stages of life, and that feels most natural to different people.

And I have noticed very clearly that I feel a whole lot better about myself when I get good opportunities to talk to people in a relaxed way, and that's also what I was a lot like throughout pretty much my entire childhood and adolescence, and I keep finding myself feeling my best when I get into that "state".

In fact, I think I have already started to feel slightly more relaxed when I interact with people, and that's definitely quite encouraging.

 

Yes and what you're talking about is not a "core" personality -even if the "core" stays the same which it does not always. I didn't say "generally different" -I gave specific examples of how social interactions and social skills are different in a teenage environment than adult.

 

Most people like being able to talk to people in a relaxed way and getting into that state. I made specific suggestions on how to interact that you've ignored. And seems to me as I wrote above that your goal in being in this relaxed state is so that other people notice you, pay attention to you, laugh at your jokes. But that's only a small part of social skills if your goal is to make friends. If your goal is to "feel" a certain way and to get validation and be noticed and have people applaud your jokes with laughter - that's not about wanting to reach out to people or caring about people or what makes them tick. That's all about you. And if you give off that sort of energy or approach social situations feeling like you need validation and to be noticed that very often will end up repelling people.

 

I'm glad you're feeling more relaxed. I suggested environments where this would be a lot more likely. A nightclub with mostly younger people likely won't trigger that relaxed state.

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Yes and what you're talking about is not a "core" personality -even if the "core" stays the same which it does not always. I didn't say "generally different" -I gave specific examples of how social interactions and social skills are different in a teenage environment than adult.

 

Most people like being able to talk to people in a relaxed way and getting into that state. I made specific suggestions on how to interact that you've ignored. And seems to me as I wrote above that your goal in being in this relaxed state is so that other people notice you, pay attention to you, laugh at your jokes. But that's only a small part of social skills if your goal is to make friends. If your goal is to "feel" a certain way and to get validation and be noticed and have people applaud your jokes with laughter - that's not about wanting to reach out to people or caring about people or what makes them tick. That's all about you. And if you give off that sort of energy or approach social situations feeling like you need validation and to be noticed that very often will end up repelling people.

 

I'm glad you're feeling more relaxed. I suggested environments where this would be a lot more likely. A nightclub with mostly younger people likely won't trigger that relaxed state.

I haven't ignored your suggestions - I will definitely look into volunteer work opportunities, I just haven't thought about responding to that particular suggestion in my last posts.

That sounds like a good idea.

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I haven't ignored your suggestions - I will definitely look into volunteer work opportunities, I just haven't thought about responding to that particular suggestion in my last posts.

That sounds like a good idea.

 

OK good. And be honest with yourself about your goals. Is it to get validated/noticed/attention from others because you're so relaxed/funny/good at flirting? Or is it because you're genuinely interested in connecting with people as equals, whether or not you get that kind of attention, with potential for future friendships?

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Yes, basically I am just aiming to get back my relaxed personality that I had back then.

I think that the fact that my teenage self could easily make eye contact with girls and casually flirt with them without feeling the least bit awkward summarises quite well what kind of social level that I am aiming for - because if you are gonna be able to do something like that in a relaxed and effortless way then you generally need to feel very confident in yourself and have a light-hearted personality, otherwise it will just feel stiff and awkward.

So I will definitely know that I have made some significant progress when I start noticing that I can do that again.

 

I have started going to the gym again (I will go there in a couple hours, actually), so it feels good to have started doing that again, and I will try visiting the school's night club this Saturday and basically just hang out there for maybe 20-30 minutes without demanding anything more than that from myself on my first visit.

Then I might go there again the weekend after that and try ordering something at the bar desk or something, and work my way up in those environments as well.

I might even find some sort of activity there somewhere, and meet people that way.

 

There's nothing wrong about wanting to improve your flirting skills, there's plenty of great articles/books out there, just try to accept the fact you may not be/act the same way as your teenage self. Embrace the adult version of yourself, approaching adult women is different from teenage flirting.

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OK good. And be honest with yourself about your goals. Is it to get validated/noticed/attention from others because you're so relaxed/funny/good at flirting? Or is it because you're genuinely interested in connecting with people as equals, whether or not you get that kind of attention, with potential for future friendships?

The best way that I can summarise how I feel is that it is a feeling of not being able to express myself the way I want to do it in front of people, combined with an occasional stinging feeling of loneliness.

 

But on a positive note, I do actually seem to notice changes in myself lately;

I seem to have been able to relax a lot more when I have talked to the cashiers and receptionists who I sometimes see when I go shopping or go to the gym, and the fact that I have felt significantly more at ease in front of them than I have done in probably a couple years now feels like a very positive first step.

I think one thing that has helped a lot is the fact that I have started going to the gym again, since this gives a great energy boost in a lot of ways.

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The best way that I can summarise how I feel is that it is a feeling of not being able to express myself the way I want to do it in front of people, combined with an occasional stinging feeling of loneliness.

 

But on a positive note, I do actually seem to notice changes in myself lately;

I seem to have been able to relax a lot more when I have talked to the cashiers and receptionists who I sometimes see when I go shopping or go to the gym, and the fact that I have felt significantly more at ease in front of them than I have done in probably a couple years now feels like a very positive first step.

I think one thing that has helped a lot is the fact that I have started going to the gym again, since this gives a great energy boost in a lot of ways.

 

Yes, I agree- moving your body, working and challenging your body can clear your head and give you a fresh perspective ,I find. I exercise daily and that is one of the many benefits. Good for you!

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