Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Help.

I hate first days.

I mean, I was looking forward to today in some ways because I like being busy, I'm looking forward to some of my classes this semester, and I'm already used to my new school's campus, and I just don't have all of the anxiety and dread that I used to now that I'm on medication. I did pretty well this morning; didn't freak out too much beforehand, even when I found out I had to get a parking pass this year. I rolled with the punches and adapted to the changing circumstances without panicking. I kept calm while my professor read the jam-packed syllabus to us and mentioned the ten-page research paper.

"You can do this. You've done this before. You're going to start early on these assignments and focus better and work wisely. You're a veteran at this school thing and you've learned your lesson. If you have to drop a class, that's fine. It will all work out," I rationally told myself.

I answered a question in class, an increasingly common but still impressive feat for this socially anxious girl. I nodded along to the professors ramblings and jotted down notes. I scanned the crowd of admittedly youthful-looking students to see if there were any cute guys. I took note of the personalities of the people who spoke up in class to see what the dynamic of the class would be. I kept telling myself everything would be fine. I walked out of class confidently and even took a selfie with the school sign. When I ran into a snafu trying to drive out of the campus, I calmly dealt with it and didn't bemoan the time lost to driving in circles. I was doing really well.

Then I got home.

I walked through the door and was immediately greeted with the jangling of an acoustic guitar playing the unbearably familiar chords of a song my sister and I are trying to put together for an upcoming church event. Performing seemed like a good idea, but it turns out I hate working in groups to put together music, and while I like the song we're doing well enough, I've come to hate it after having to play it over and over at my sister's beckoning and then having it play nonstop in my head for twenty-four hours after that. I just don't want to work on the damn thing any more, but my sister keeps pressuring me to arrange for the people playing with us to meet to practice. It's become one of those things that makes you irrationally annoyed because it's a symbol of a larger stressor in your life, and that stressor is my relationship with my sister.

I headed straight to my room and hid myself away from the annoyance; I wanted some time to wind down and I wanted to isolate myself from my sister lest I be grumpy with her and hurt her feelings. After a few minutes though, she came knocking at my door asking why I hadn't eaten the food she made. I told her I would come soon, I was just doing something. But she came back a few minutes later and asked again. I kind of lost it. Not yelling or anything, just snapping at her. I was stressed with school and I'm just generally annoyed with her mannerisms lately because we've spent too much time together this summer. I guess I realized as I got home what the realities of my life would be like this school year: my sister will be living at home too while she gets her Master's online. But for the next month, she won't have that schoolwork, so she'll be wanting to hang out while I want to work. In general, it's just going to be crowded and distracting and stressful, especially if I'm already irritated by stupid little things.

Then I started looking at my syllabus to see if there was something I could get a head start on and I was struck with just how overwhelming the courseload is. I'm no stranger to overwhelming courseloads, but they still freak me out big time. I started looking at another syllabus and thinking of other little beginning-of-the-year tasks I had to complete, and it all quickly spiraled out of control, leaving me stressed and overwhelmed.

Apart from all of that, I've been stressed the last couple of days thinking about one particular relationship of mine that I'd like to grow but that is disappointingly stagnant. Read: I kind of developed a crush on a person who I've always thought of as a friend before. I hate having crushes now because they make me so anxious and obsessive; I can't stop my thoughts from racing in circles, wondering about the person and whether or not he likes me. Sometimes this person has shown an unusual amount of kindness to me, but he doesn't seem interested in talking to me via text. But it's so hard to tell because you can't read emotions in text messages.

It all plays into this overarching frustration I'm having of how to continue relationships where you can no longer meet face-to-face. As someone who suffers from social anxiety, talking over text and email can be really tough because I read into little things like people not responding or seeming a bit curt and I start to think they hate me or don't care. It's hard to tell whether people are passive-aggressive or just formal, disinterested or just busy. I forget that other people's inboxes and social media feeds are undoubtedly far more packed than mine, so what I see as snubs or intentionally ignoring me may just be accidents.

But the sad thing is it leaves me very frustrated and lonely and I'm not sure how to communicate that to the person because maybe they really don't mean to hurt me and would like to fix the situation if they knew how I was feeling. But how do you tell someone that something so personal, awkward, and potentially offensive? And my social anxiety makes me terrified of phone calls. Maybe I just need to start calling people, but then I wonder if people would think that would be weird.

So I lumber along, unsure of how to handle myself and feeling altogether pretty isolated and unworthy of love at times. I wish I wasn't always the one initiating things in my friendships. I wish people reached out to me. I wish I wasn't always the one crushing hardcore on a person and that one of these days the guy reciprocated my feelings and made a little effort to pursue me. But that all seems like stuff of fairy tales.

In the mean time, I'm stuck in the real world of syllabuses and siblings and rush hour traffic and macaroni and cheese made in a saucepan. Even though things are better, there is still plenty of frustrations kind of like how even though I didn't get super anxious and dread school for days the way I usually do, I still woke up at 2 am this morning and had panic attacks and swore I was dying. It's funny how not matter how many panic attacks I've had, I always am convinced that it might be my last moments. I feel sad that I can't say one last thing to my family and I start praying and asking God again for forgiveness and reaffirming my faith in him just in case the last ten million times weren't enough, but it's always just a panic attack that convinces me I'm lying in my death bed. Nowadays I'm usually able to figure out it's just panic, but part of me is still convinced I'm dying.

I guess life is like that: a cycle of the same fears and joys, struggles and triumphs repeating itself over and over. If you're lucky, you learn a little more each time and can deal with things a little better the next time they come around.

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