I’m not entirely an anxious person on the outside, but on the inside I am a seething heap of worries. I think because of the ADD, I’m probably most prone to anxiety about interpersonal relationships, because I’m so bad at reading people. I think I recognized this as early as grade school, but felt completely helpless to do anything about it. While other people seemed to be able to tell what other people were feeling by the unspoken signals that seemed to be obvious to them, I was a blind man in a world of the seeing.
It hasn’t gotten any better as I’ve gotten older. I’ve just gotten used to it, and perhaps learned to stop worrying about it so much. I learned to read some things, but there are any number of times that I have completely misread signals and ended up hurting others and myself. Mostly I’ve become overly self conscious when dealing with other people to the point that I tend to avoid social situations where I have to engage in small talk or try to manage superficial interactions. It’s not out of a dislike of other people, but out of a fear that I’m going to make a fool of myself or say something stupid. That may be one of the reasons I’ve gravitated toward programming and other jobs that required me to spend a lot of time inside my own head, with a constantly running soundtrack of music my only companion.
My primary social outlet is my weekly RPG game with a great group of people. I think even then, I think I feel somewhat protected by the fact that I’m the GM and have a certain level of control that keeps me safe. When you run the world, people can’t hurt you, right?
I am getting better about breaking out of my shell, I’ve learned to find people I can trust to help me with my social anxiety, and sometimes let me know when I’m presenting myself in ways that aren’t working to my advantage. I’m grateful for their help.