Categories
Blogging Holidays Social anxiety

Thirteen Today

Not me, of course. I left that age long ago and am happy to say, “Good riddance.” It wasn’t a good time, although there were often good moments.

I need to remember that. We – I and my possible memoir partner – have come to the conclusion that the difficult parts of our childhoods are easier to remember. They stick in our memories, while the happy times pass with enjoyment and laughter. They’re not so clingy.

Is that how it is for everyone? Do you remember the sad times more than the happy ones? Or perhaps we all have a general impression of how things were, and need to dig deeper to remember episodes that don’t fit the mould.

So, who is thirteen today? Wrong question. It’s not who but what. On March 23, 2009, I posted this:

Speech is Silver; Silence is…

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

So tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

I was afraid when I wrote that first blog post. On one hand, I knew it would help to feed my growing passion to raise awareness of social anxiety. On the other, I was scared of a backlash. Even in those days, social media was a double-edged sword. I was afraid anonymous people would tell me social anxiety didn’t exist – that it was a made-up term and the problems were not real, either. That’s why I had no name at first, except for the name of the blog: An’ de Walls Came Tumblin’ Down.

Fortunately, the feared ridicule hasn’t happened – not yet, not on social media, I’m glad to say.

Looking back at the person I was then, across the long bridge of thirteen years, I feel proud. Plenty has changed. I’ve become a published author, I’ve delivered talks, I’ve grown in confidence. I’ve also become a grandmother, met lots of people in various settings, and travelled widely.

I’m still walking that bridge and probably always will, but it feels less of a struggle, these days. I’ve accepted that social anxiety is here to stay and learned to make friends with it.

Crossing a river during a hike in Norway, 2001

How about you? How have you changed in the past thirteen years, and do you tend to remember the sad parts of your childhood more than the happy ones? Do let me know in the comments below.

Categories
Blogging Bullying Social anxiety

How should I react?

Sometimes ideas go around from blog to blog. One person blogs about something and others decide to blog about the same thing. I first saw this idea on Rosalind Adam’s  blog. She got the idea from someone else. Probably others got the idea from her. That’s how it works.

This idea has a name. It’s called the Fun and Games Blogfest. You blog about your three favourite games. That’s fun, I thought. I could do that.

Then I thought some more about the games I played as a child. And each game I thought about led to thoughts about bullying. It’s not that I didn’t play games in my childhood. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy playing games in my childhood. But my overwhelming memories now are not about the happy times. They’re about the sad times. They’re about the times I was left out of games, or worse – made to feel worthless when I tried to join in.

So I decided I didn’t really want to blog about games I played. But I was still left wondering how I should react. Should I ignore the whole thing and not mention it, or should I write about my feelings? By writing, doesn’t it spoil things for others? The original idea was just a bit of fun. I don’t need to ruin that with my hangups.

This doesn’t apply only in this particular case. It’s true nearly every time childhood is brought up in conversation. I think that anything I could add to the conversation wouldn’t be appropriate. It would turn a fun conversation into a sad and boring one. So I keep quiet.

But I’ve kept quiet all my life. I’m fed up with keeping quiet. I want to speak out. I want others to know who I am. But I don’t want to spoil their fun.

When I attended my last school reunion, I kept quiet and listened to all the fond memories. Inside, I was crying for the girl who didn’t take part in those fun things they remembered. Afterwards, I decided not to attend the next reunion.

But that’s what I don’t want to do. That’s what social anxiety is about – hiding away so that society doesn’t know who you really are. I don’t want to do that any more.

That’s why I don’t know how to react. Any ideas?