Dear Hope: Living with Epilepsy & Anxiety
DEAR HOPE: I am a 17 year old girl, who has been struggling with anxiety for a portion of my life. Because of my anxiety, I am quite introverted and not very outgoing which makes it hard to meet new people and eventually make friends. When I am at school I try to have a conversation with other people in my classes, but it doesn’t go anywhere. I have tried to push myself out of my comfort zone and talk to others, but when people don’t seem interested in what I have to say, it makes me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious.
Although I am struggling to make friends, I feel ok about myself, but I still get nervous. Other people in my classes are able to find things in common, and talk to each other without feeling the tension and awkwardness. I can’t figure out if I’m doing something wrong, or just being too cautious about what I say and who I talk to.
It is especially hard right now during the pandemic to make friends. Besides going to school, I really don’t go anywhere else right now. This makes it difficult to get the opportunity to hang out with others when I am eventually ready to make that next step. I want to be able to find a group that I can instantly click with and not be afraid to be myself around them. -Friend-seeker
DEAR FRIEND-SEEKER- To be honest with you, the pandemic makes a lot of people’s lives stressful and difficult. It sounds like you feel pretty isolated right now which does make it difficult to meet new people and make new friends. You mentioned that besides school, you don’t really go anywhere else right now, so don’t give up, keep trying to put yourself out there and I promise soon you will find someone who you connect with!
I get that your anxiety causes you to be pretty introverted, but just remember that you are not alone. No one is natural at participating in social situations. Even the person who you think is the most outgoing and extroverted, probably feels a tiny bit anxious when mingling with crowds, or talking in front of a class. Many people may not share that they are anxious, but it is pretty common. Also, not many people will even notice that you are anxious, so just be yourself, and I can promise you that you will find your crowd soon.
I also wanted to mention that we are living such a unique life right now, and there are so many cool opportunities to be able to meet people and interact with them. It doesn’t even have to be in person, there are so many virtual groups and programs that are being offered right now that may interest you. EFNE offers share groups and programs throughout the school year, so please feel free to check them out: https://epilepsynewengland.org/programs/resource-and-support-center/support-group.
The key to making new friends is to just be yourself, and don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Put yourself out there, and try to join at least one virtual share group, or even a club at your high school! Don’t let your anxiety stop you from getting to know people. Simply just ask questions, share a little about you, and if you are really struggling have an exit strategy in order to get out of the situation. Once you find some new people who you like to be around, remember that good friends make you a priority, they don’t judge each other, and never sacrifice your beliefs, values, and morals because you want someone to like you.
I hope this helps you, and good luck with everything! - Hope
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