I don't know what to do anymore. I was always shy but i feel like it started getting worse. I started to isolate myself from people i know for a long time (almost 10 years). I always get so uncomfortable when i want to write to them and propose meeting or just to chat. Mostly im so uncomfortable that i don't do it. And i feel because of that that our relationships are falling apart because they bearly contact me anymore so i have to do it.
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Thank you for reaching out to Asking Jude. This is a tough situation to be in, and I understand how hard it must be. Both introverts and people with social anxiety are often quick in isolating themselves from others. They want to have meaningful relationships with others but are also hesitant to make the first move and contact everyone themselves. They simultaneously want to be isolated but not feel lonely at the same time, which can be quite tricky. If you feel uncomfortable to the point that you start having physical symptoms every time you talk to someone, I suggest you talk to a doctor or a mental health professional about how you’ve been feeling as you might have social anxiety. Talking to a health professional will help determine how you can get better.
Most people who isolate themselves from others or refrain from opening up to others are often guarding themselves against heartbreak. They might have had negative experiences with relationships before and therefore struggle from putting themselves out there again. Sometimes, people compensate for not having enough friends or relationships by isolating from the ones already present. If they can convince themselves that they do not need anyone, then they feel less lonely. However, there is a small line between being shy and uncomfortable and completely isolating yourself from everyone. Loneliness can be very dangerous. Everyone needs people around them who can support them and help them grow. Even people who think they are independent and think relationships are unnecessary are the ones who feel the most lonely and crave that intimacy. Furthermore, completing withdrawing from your relationship can also be a sign of depression, so I suggest talking to a therapist to help determine if that’s the case if this gets too serious.
Find out what you love the most about yourself. It can be anything from physical traits to small personality quirks. Embrace and celebrate what you love most about yourself and celebrate it with the world. Show your worth and your uniqueness to the people you currently know, and they will be reminded of why you were close in the first place. Discover your interests and beliefs and spread them out into the world with a lot of positivity. For example, if you like animals, try volunteering in an animal shelter. If you like art/music, join a class that will help improve your strengths. Share your talents with others through a showcase or social media. Eventually, like-minded people will find you and positive energy.
Initiating contact and being the person to reach out first is always tough because you are making yourself vulnerable. However, think of the possibility that maybe the other person feels the same. Maybe they feel hesitant to contact you as well, and now you are stuck in a perpetual waiting zone where your relationship does not move forward.
Talk to your friends about how you’ve been feeling. Let them know that you want to maintain your friendships and that you are listening to what they are saying. Take small steps. They might be looking for that same support, so simply letting them know you are there can help your bond remain strong.
Take it from someone who has been in a similar situation. I am very shy as well, and I get very uncomfortable talking to new people. However, I am very passionate about mental health and music, among other things, and have found other like-minded people, and I have built strong friendships with them. I took a chance on befriending new people, and it worked out in my favor. Here are some resources that you might find helpful:
Wishing you all the best,
I can give one piece of advice, Mary M, based on what I read in your ask. If you can find a place where you work as a volunteer -- somewhere close to where you live -- and you do that for a while, you'll feel better about yourself, you'll be relating to and interacting with new people, and, then, you can re-connect with your friends. Worth a try. Good luck to you...