When you have social anxiety, you can feel a lot older that you really are. With years of constantly overanalyzing every present-day situation, and reliving missed opportunities in the past, it’s easy to look in the mirror and feel like you’ve aged faster than a fresh-faced President after one term in the White House.
And suddenly, you look up and feel like, wow, did I waste my youth? Did I waste all of my good years by being socially anxious?
The older you get, the easier it is to feel like this. But you don’t have to be 30 or 40+ to feel this way. I remember being in my early twenties feeling that social anxiety was robbing me of my youth, and I was just a few years removed from college.
But here’s the thing—the most amazing thing that social anxiety does is that it convinces you that your situation is permanent. It makes you complacent. It crushes your will and brow beats you into submission.
Your Life Is Not Wasted
In another post, I wrote about how it’s important for those that are shy or have social phobia to embrace and even enjoy the idea of failure. In terms of feeling like you’ve wasted your youth, or that you’ve been unable to accomplish anything of merit or failed to take advantage of your “good years,” you gotta remember this: you’re life has not been a waste.
Not now. Not ever.
It sounds cliché, but it’s NEVER too late to do something. It’s never too late to try something new, or go someplace you’ve never been.
Your life doesn’t end because you’re not a teenager anymore. Just because you’re 40 or 45 doesn’t mean you can’t be living life to the fullest.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
You need to cut it out. And you know what I’m talking about.
Sitting around and worrying that other people half your age have 100s of friends. Or have had sex with 20 different partners. Or have no problem grabbing life by the balls and being the center of attention.
That has to stop.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating—it doesn’t matter what other people think. And it doesn’t matter what other people do, either.
You’re caught up in that negative “Matrix” again, which is something I talked about in my article about the 21 Symptoms of Social Anxiety.
You get in that mental space where you feel that, if everyone is already 100 paces ahead of you in the game of life, then it’ll take you years just to catch up to them.
But life isn’t a race. It doesn’t matter if a 17-year-old kid has been to dozens of house parties while you get nervous sitting in a business meeting.
It doesn’t matter if you hear your 26-year-old co-worker is having her first child and yet you’ve never been on a date.
It doesn’t matter you overheard a person bragging about their sexual partners and you’ve never kissed someone before.
Life doesn’t care about that kind of crap. And neither should you.
How to Get Over It?
So if you feel like your social fears have held you back to the point that you believe you’ve wasted your youth, what can you do about it?
The first thing that needs to change is your attitude. No more “Facebooking” through life.
What’s “Facebooking” mean? Well, if you have a Facebook page, one of the worst—and I mean WORST—things you can do to yourself is look at other people’s pages and compare their lives to yours.
“Oh wow, Jamie is attending law school while raising two daughters.”
“Oh gee, Leroy just got promoted to bank manager at his job.”
“Oh look at that, Keith is studying medicine abroad and still finding time to build a school for orphaned children.”
“Facebooking” will make you feel awful about yourself, because no matter what you’re doing, there’s always someone out there doing something more amazing.
And it’s inevitable that you start comparing yourself them. And more often than not, “Facebooking” causes you to point out your own inadequacies.
So whether you’re stalking people online or worried you’re stuck behind the 8-ball of life offline, worry less about what others are doing and more about what you can and should be doing.
Just Do Something
When you’re worried or frustrated that you’ve wasted your life, it usually means that you’re not CURRENTLY doing enough with the life you have left on this earth.
So go out there and just do something. Try something. Learn something.
Take a new class.
Walk down a street you’ve never ventured down before.
Give to a charity you support, or volunteer somewhere.
Do something that not only gets you out of your head and more into the present moment, but something that can potentially allow you to meet new people.
If you’re feeling stuck with your social anxiety, and feel that things will never change no matter how hard you try, well, try harder.
Don’t allow your age, and especially the ages of others, to convince you that life has passed you by. Because unless you’re dead, you’re still blessed with time to right the ship.
You’re blessed with an opportunity to start anew.
You’re blessed with the chance to jump start your life.
So don’t waste a single, solitary minute dwelling on the past.
And as always, if you need a bit more encouragement, be sure to check out this video below:
Image courtesy of Artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net