The above quote was taken from Carrie (1976). I thought it was fitting.
I appreciate this blog entry is different to my usual content, but I wanted to share a little more about my personal life with you all. For those who also suffer from social anxiety, you’ll definitely understand that it interferes with your life in many ways. It can’t be switched off, and even on a good day, it’s always there in the background waiting to over analyse something. Social anxiety is something I’ve been dealing with for many years now, and it’s a long and gruelling process. It can definitely be invisible at times, because I’ve had people tell me they had no idea I even had it and that outwardly I appear to be “bubbly and confident”. It’s good that I’m able to hide it when I need to, but my internal monologue can be very different to how I look on the outside.
Because of this, it can often be very difficult to put yourself “out there”. Blogging is no exception, because it allows you to reach people all over the world, many of whom you don’t know in real life. It’s a terrifying thought, that someone could be sitting there judging you and you don’t even know. It’s easy for someone to tell you to just ignore it, but it isn’t always that easy to stop yourself from overthinking and considering the “what if’s?”. I often find myself asking loved ones if I’m doing okay when I’m in a social environment, or on the journey home I’ll ask if I embarrassed myself. This constant fear of causing people to dislike me is exhausting, but something that is gradually getting better thanks to the support of counsellors and loved ones.
Whilst I haven’t had any direct hate towards me in relation to my blog, I’m always worried that one day I will. I’ve had people that disagree with my opinions, but that’s different because it’s not “hate”, it’s just a different point of view. Which is completely fine, and I actively encourage. But my social anxiety often prevents me from wanting to post anything at all, out of fear that I will be mocked. The internet can often make you feel vulnerable as people can be granted anonymity, which makes hateful comments that much easier to create. It seems silly to fear what hasn’t even happened to you yet, but mental health is rarely rational and can cause you to worry about the tiniest things, regardless of their plausibility.
I suppose the reason I’m writing all this is to really be honest with all of you, and offer my support to those who struggle with similar issues in their day-to-day lives. I’ve put together a few positive affirmations that have helped me to overcome my fear of posting and interacting with fellow bloggers. Maybe it will help someone else.
1. This is something I’m passionate about, and I deserve to enjoy it.
Life is too short to pretend to like things that you don’t, or take up hobbies that just aren’t you. Ever since I can remember, I’ve adored films and filmmaking, so writing about films (and recently TV) is something I genuinely do enjoy. I don’t do this for money, or because someone’s holding a gun to my head, I want to watch stuff and write about it. So why shouldn’t I? Some people might roll their eyes when I call blogging a hobby, but to me it is. It’s something that motivates me, even when times are tough.
2. I have people who support me, and like what I write.
This one is perhaps the most surprising to me, considering I usually have zero faith in anything I write. Though my following is small, both online and offline people have told me that they enjoy my content, and I’ve even had people submit their short films for review on my Short Film Saturdays section. That has to mean something. No matter what you love to do, you will have someone who will support you. Maybe you’ll have many people. Regardless, it’s your life, and it’s important to embrace the things that make you happy.
3. You can’t please everyone, so stop trying.
Though difficult to fully comprehend when you’re dealing with social anxiety, there is no magic pill to make everyone like you and want to be your friend. There are people out there who won’t like you no matter what you do. Even if I deleted the blog, someone would dislike something else about me, and even if I changed that… well, you get the point. Staying true to yourself is the best thing you can do, and the right people will stay by your side and cheer you on. You’ll be happier because of it. Do people that thrive off negativity and making you feel bad really matter? Absolutely not.
4. Listen to criticism, but don’t let it consume you.
Constructive feedback is an important part of life, and it’s something you can grow from. I ask people I know in real life to read my content and give feedback, and sometimes there’s a lot of things to be done. Don’t take it to heart when you make mistakes; they can be learned from and corrected, in order for you to do better next time. Provided you can take something away from negative comments, that can be flipped on its head to become a good thing. If someone turns around and says “your blog is shit” and doesn’t say why, it’s likely they’re just wanting a reaction from you. Don’t give it to them.
If you made it to the end of this long post, thank you for reading. I’m so grateful for everyone who supports me in doing this, all my friends online and offline, and all the bloggers I’ve connected with along the way. You help me to keep going even when I think everything I write is awful and people are cringing at me. I never thought I’d be brave enough to share something like this, but I did it today.
I’m proud of that.