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Stuck in a rut but wanting to change

Posted 4th April 2010 at 13:01 by Matt_1983

In the last 3 years or so ive had a couple of periods where ive had a serious urge to go travelling or do voluntary work abroad. Its been at times in my life when ive been feeling particularly down about my life and the lack of progress im making in over-coming social anxiety/shyness. Ive seen therapists and tried medication and done the relaxation tapes and all the stuff im sure most of you have tried, and nothings really helped me improve that much. But ive always felt maybe to venture out and see the world on my own would force me to develop, because to survive id have to talk to people. Also maybe being in new surroundings on an adventure would make me think differently about myself and life.

The first time i seriously considered going away was in 2007 after a brief split with my then girlfriend. I was unemployed and distraught after the break-up, and also SO fed up with my social anxiety. I did lots of research and was almost about to sign up to do voluntary work for a few months in Ghana. My main motivation to do it was the hope that i would be in a very foreign country, away from modern life, working with a group of people around my age, and it would hopefully bring me out of my shell and develop my confidence. Even if it was just to a certain level then it would be worth it, because up until then, and still now, im SO bad in any social situation and at making friends and just being with people. I backed out at the last minute because i had this huge fear that it could turn out to be a disaster, with me isolating myself from the other volunteers and locals like i always have done in most situations in my life since i was a teenager. I thought that rather than help me it might push me over the edge; to be all that way from home, alone and with the realisation that one of my last hopes for helping me was now failing. So i didnt go. A few weeks after that i got a job as a postman, which im still doing, and that gave me some focus in life and made things better for me.

There was also a time i think last year maybe when i did lots of research into travelling around Europe by train for a month or so. I made a post about it on here and was really up for it. Again i had the same hopes about what i could gain from it. And again i decided against it because of the same fears.

Im now at a point where i feel im stuck in a rut in life, living the same groundhog day existance of work and sitting in my flat on my laptop or watching dvds. I never do anything positive; i live in Exeter but havent driven to the amazing beaches or countryside for over a year. I just dont want to do that alone, and even though i have 3 or 4 "friends" in Exeter, i only ever see them to go drinking with, because im too scared to spend time with them in the daytime doing "normal" friend things, scared that theyll see how anxious i am or that ill ruin things with my quietness. The only positive thing i do apart from work is go to the gym, which i love, but also rely on to get me out of the depressive states i get into. Without the gym id soon become extremely depressed im sure.

And even when im in my flat i cant seem to get the motivation to do anything that takes any brain power or creativity. I dont even read books, even though i know id enjoy doing that and it would take my mind off me for a few hours a day. But theres something inside me that stops me buying books and reading. Its as if i WANT to be focused on me all the time and obsessing about my social anxiety and how bad my life is, rather than escaping into a book. Likewise i dont do things like crosswords. When i was with my ex i used to have a dream of becoming a sitcom writer and for a couple of years i spent hours a day writing, and i loved it. But i gave up on that shortly after breaking up with her and now the only thing creative i write is angst ridden poetry about how much i miss my ex and stuff like that.

As i mentioned im still a postman and although i do feel anxious everytime i go into work each morning, by the end of the day im on such a high from the excercise and sense of achievement and just being "out of my head" a bit, having to focus on other things apart from myself. In many ways i love my job, and it seems perfect for me. Yet in the almost 3 years ive been doing it i wouldnt say ive made much progress in overcoming social anxiety. I have developed in terms of confidence, and i do have to face situations that in the past, and sometimes still, terrify me, and i never avoid them because i cant, its my job. Situations like walking into a packed hairdressers with a recorded delivery and having about 10 women looking at me and wanting a chat with the postie. Situations like having to explain to another postie how best to tie up the mail on a route he hasnt done before, and the order to deliver it in etc. But ive not made any friends in work, and i only speak when im spoken to. Its the same as in any job ive ever had. The difference with this one though is that im only with my colleagues for a couple of hours before then spending the rest of my working day out on my own.

But im now starting to really feel depressed more and more, and so lonely. The difference in my life now compared to the 4 years i was with my ex is so massive. I was SO happy then, and now im just . . . empty. I need to change things, or at least make an effort to get my life on track. Im 26 and id love to have children one day, but if i dont improve my social skills and self confidence and get better in terms of social anxiety and shyness i cant imagine having children. And im so worried that if i continue living like this and being so alone that it might permanantly change me or even turn me crazy or make my anxiety a lot worse.

Im so lucky in many ways; i come from a loving family who understand my problem as much as is possible, and i know theyll always be there for me. Im lucky financially, my Dads a successful businessman and ill never want for anything, although i dont like to rely on him, which is why i work full time. I think ive been lucky in terms of how i look; im not saying im amazingly handsome but i wouldnt say im ugly, and the one girlfriend ive had was so beautiful it makes me think i must be alright looking. I think ive got a good sense of humour AND personality, its just hidden away beneath the SA, and only shows itself with the aid of alcohol. But even that doesnt have the same effect it used to, and you cant live life permanantly drunk.

So today i woke up and its as if i now DEFINATELY will leave my job some point this year to go travelling. I feel that i am now ready to do it, and ive got the finances, so theres nothing apart from "the fear" holding me back. Ive read or heard about so many people who go travelling and they absolutely love it and it has a life changing effect. Im excited to think that this might be something that could finally bring me out of my shell a bit whilst also seeing some amazing parts of the world and meeting people. Ive been on many holidays in my life but never anywhere exotic or off the beaten track. And ive always been with either my family or my ex. Apart from a night i spent alone in Paris last year for my birthday which was a bit of a disaster!

I hope you enjoyed my first blog, im off to have a lye down. Or is it lie down???
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  1. Old Comment
    Silver's Avatar
    I can relate to so much that you wrote especially about feeling empty, stuck in a rut and also wanting to go travelling too. I hope you do decide to do it and dont let fear stop you
    Posted 4th April 2010 at 17:41 by Silver Silver is offline

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