When being in a new environment unravels something, you did not know about yourself

Moving to Germany was an all-new experience for me. For the first time in my life, I was moving very far away from home, from my family and friends, from a familiar environment. In fact, I was entering an unknown territory. One could say, I was leaving my comfort zone.

It wasn’t all glamour, it had its gloomy days. But my social interaction skills were not questionable. Socially, I thought I was okay. I wouldn’t approach you for a conversation, but when you did, I indulged. I easily connected with other beneficiaries of the same scholarship I was on, and we had our fun. But on certain occasions, I bailed out on events to meet new people. I thought I had valid reasons for not attending those events, yes, I did.

Then, I moved to a new city, to begin with my studies and that was when I realized I was becoming “socially awkward”. Each time there was an event to meet outside the class to hang out with my course mates, I freaked out. I got extremely anxious, thinking of all the things that could go wrong at the hangout. And when I did go, I was less myself. After a couple of tries, I told myself, enough of the torture. I decided to end it all and I stopped attending any gathering of any sort. In as much as I enjoyed the time spent with my course mates, I couldn’t get over the inner battle I had to fight each time. No more anxiety to battle with. I chose the comfort of my bed and laptop over social interaction.

And now, two months after successfully completing my studies (Yes! I did it. Thanks be to God), I have noticed some changes. I no longer turn down invitations to go out with friends (new people I met during my work on my master thesis). I still do get anxious about going out with them, but I look at it from the point of hanging out with colleagues to have some fun. I must admit though, that sometimes I am tempted to bail out. I may still turn down invitations, but I do accept some. I am not a party freak and I have never been, but in the last month, I have had so much fun with these people.

It had never occurred to me that I had social anxiety. I wasn’t a frequenter of events when I was in Ghana, but the few times I went out with friends, it never crossed my mind about getting anxious. I describe myself as a shy person, but my close circle of friends will tell you otherwise. I am sure they’d equate me to a parrot if you asked them. Being in an unfamiliar and new environment, I have experienced new emotions and learned something about myself I never thought.

I still do get anxious, but I make an extra effort to not let my anxiety weigh me down and have fun. It’s not been easy for me dealing with my anxiety, but I am trying my best to keep it under control.

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