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Anxiety This forum is for seeking advice on anxiety and stress related issues.

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AeonycRiot Offline
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Name: Alex
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Do I have social anxiety? Or is this just me being afraid of growing up? - September 11th 2014, 04:07 PM

So I just turned 18 last month, just started driving a few weeks ago, and I started college last week. And after a certain embarrassing "incident" I had this Monday, I've felt so anxious about going to school, driving, or even leaving the house.

Before I go any further, I just wanna say that even though I have been a little bit introverted most of my life(I do spend alot of time at home since I'm a gamer, but I don't mind making friends, and I'm not fond of being alone, so it's never been too bad), I don't think I've ever had serious social anxiety, so right now I'm not sure if I really have it or not.

Anyway, just to clarify on this incident that happened on Monday, I'm a new driver. I got my learner's permit late in my senior year of high school, and I got my actual license just a few weeks ago. Until then, my dad would always ride with me since I still only had a permit. And he would correct me on my mistakes, and give me tips whenever I would encounter an awkward situation. However, this Monday was my second day driving on my own, and it was also my second day to college. My last class of the day let out early, and I ended up being able to go home about 40 minutes early. I do have to pass through alot of highschool/elementary school zones on the route I take to get to my university. And since I got out early, I ended up passing through one of the school zones right when all the kids were getting let out. There was a policeman directing traffic in front of the school. And of course, since this was my second real day of driving alone, I had no experience driving through crossing guard areas. When I saw him, I panicked, and for some reason, I assumed that he was signaling for me to go, even though he probably wasn't. I passed him at a slow speed, thinking that it was okay simply because I didn't know any better and was panicking, and he immediately stopped me and started chewing me out. I apologized left and right and explained that I was a new driver and that I had never been through a crossing guard before. He let out a huge sigh and just told me to forget about it and go, then I rushed home after that.

I'm not really sure why, but the first two days after that incident, I was really tense and I felt like I had some sort of mental problem. Maybe it was because I was afraid he would give me a ticket, or maybe it was because I'd never been yelled at so angrily before, and it just really shook me up. Whenever I would recall the man's voice, I would just cringe and start having a panic-attack. It was all I could think about. I don't think about it as much as I have been, but now I feel alot worse in general. The ordeal has made me think alot about how my life is going to change now that I can drive and I'm in college. My parents suggested that I switch from commuting to living in the dorms next year, and it sounded fun at first. But after this week, it sounds terrifying. I'm just afraid of anything that involves having to be out on my own and take care of myself.

I never realized that I was so faint-of-heart and that I scare so easily. I started thinking about the future and what it would be like living on my own. I just don't even want to do it for some reason. I just want to stay at home where my comfort zone is. Every day that I have to go out, I get anxious because I feel like I'll run the risk of running into another scary awkward situation, like running into another angry policeman, in which case I can't just use the "Sorry, I'm just an inexperienced kid who doesn't know any better." excuse any more because I can drive myself around now and I'm technically an adult, being 18 and all. So I'm SUPPOSED to know better at this point. But apparently I don't because I'm socially inept and panicky. I'm even afraid that I won't meet up to my college professors' expectations and all. Even if I am at home, I can't relax or do anything without thinking about the next time I'll have to go somewhere.

I don't know what I'm supposed to think of myself right now. I wanna tell myself that it will be alright, but I'm pretty sure it's not alright to be 18, to be in college, yet to be timid, scared, and afraid of going out and interacting with people, in fear of being yelled at, or punished, or forced into an awkward situation. I just feel like such a kid.
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Celyn Offline
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Re: Do I have social anxiety? Or is this just me being afraid of growing up? - September 11th 2014, 07:01 PM

Hey Alex,

From what you have said, Iím not sure if it sound like you have social anxiety. If you feel anxious in a lot of different situations that require social interaction, such as meeting new people, talking to friends, people in authority, going shopping/cinema/out for food and using public transport, then I would consider social anxiety. However, it sounds like you may have mild general anxiety, but Iím not a professional, so if you wanted to find out for definite, it would be best to see a qualified professional.

It is definitely normal to feel nervous when driving for the first couple of times. I think the incident unnerved you and you realise that growing up comes with added responsibilities. You may worry that similar situations may happen again, which may or may not be generalised anxiety. It may have also knocked your confidence a bit which would add to the anxiety.

Since you are 18, I feel that it is also normal to worry about the future, and feel comfortable with being kid and almost scared of being adult. Growing up is a weird thing. Some people seem to be complete naturals at growing up. Others take a little longer. And then some worry about it. But at some point in all of our lives, we do have to leave the comfort of our childhood behind. However, remember that you are a YOUNG adult. Depending on how you look at it, youíre still a teenager and in some places, they donít consider you to be a young adult until 21. Even then, the process of growing up takes a while.

Moving out can be a scary but also exciting experience, and will help you become more independent and deal with all sorts of situations. When you learn how to deal with things, you do get better at it. Iím sure you will meet your meet your college professorsí expectations- but if you find anything difficult, donít be afraid to ask for help!

For the time being, try to take your mind of it and concentrate on other things. Think of what youíre good at and remember that it is normal to make mistakes, even when you are 18. It will be alright. Donít avoid the situations that make you anxious- try to deal with them, and you will get better at it.

If the anxiety gets worse or doesnít go away, then may you could talk to a counsellor to help you deal with feelings of anxiety.

All the best!
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