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Hard to express myself & been described as hard to read

I've been lonely for ages. Only now have I realised living isolated isn't the best way of living but I'm clunky around people. Thing is I didn't want to be around people in my teens, but in my mid 20s I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. It's got to a point where I wanted to ditch my previous job to be a postman.

The title is a mix of feedback from my former employer & my psychiatrist. I've been described "like a woman" where others have to read between the lines, whatever that means, and also described as looking Russian...yeah really. I'm not overly emotional unless it's extre

me, I'm hardly vocal, and I find myself running into imaginary brick walls when I'm talking to someone. I can't express myself - even when things are OK - and I don't have anything to say most of the time. And small talk...eugh.


I'm pretty anxious socially since I have troubles connecting with anyone - I've always wanted to know what it's like in a serious relationship, romantic or not - or interviewing. I'm slightly paranoid in certain situations that I'm off-putting in the rare times I've actually gone out (alone), and at work I'm mostly avoidant.


The worst feeling I would get was Friday after work, believe it or not - It's where the loneliness & anxiety hit hardest. Ideally I'd like to be at the very least more charasmatic, so is there any advice?


Re: Hard to express myself & been described as hard to read

Also found it hard to edit text on my phone, so here's additional information.

Firstly the bit about not being overly emotional has nothing to do with gender stereotypes. It's just my personality.

Secondly I was let go of my full time job a month ago, but at the same time wanted to quit. Just wanted to rock up & not say anything, so even though it stung, and right now I'm back looking for more jobs again, it was kind of a relief.

Re: Hard to express myself & been described as hard to read

Hello and welcome to the forums @svrooster . I think you express yourself really well in written form by the way! It sounds tough what you're going through and I'm sorry to hear about your full time job. 


I think sometimes we put expectations on ourselves to be able to talk a certain way in social situations and then we beat ourselves up if the conversation doesn't go as planned or we're left feeling like we're an absolute idiot by what we say. 


I am social, I guess. At least I try to be but I also get anxious being in groups and having others talk about things. I sometimes find myself standing there just listening to others because I don't know what to say or how to contribute. It's really frustrating so I think I can understand what you're going through. I am also in my 20's. 


I suppose my advice would be to try and find topics that you are confident in and really like. Do you have any interests or hobbies that perhaps you could get involved with similar people? Could be a sport or art group or board games or even a support group. I know headspace centres tend to run good groups for people, particularly if you are socially anxious. 



What do you think about all of this? 


Re: Hard to express myself & been described as hard to read

Hello @svrooster and welcome! 


@mspaceK has offered some great tips here! Similar to this, I had someone at uni I am doing a group assignment with say to me tonight 'I'm not very good at talking to people so I'll just start by asking what your favourite music is'. I found that super courageous and it was a great conversation stater. Plus people generally love to talk about themselves so he had shifted the focus to me but still put himself out there to have a conversation. 


Would you mind expanding on what you meant when you said you are paranoid in certain situations? Are there certain things that trigger your paranoid feelings?


It sounds like you are trying really hard to build your confidence in social situations and reaching out for advice on this shows a great amount of strength and determination. Don't feel like you need to change who you are completely, you are a great person! 


Talk soon x



Re: Hard to express myself & been described as hard to read

Hi @mspaceK, I was thinking of how expressive I was "unscripted" & in person, but it could be that I'm a better writer than speak


I get the feeling of just listening as the topics being discussed aren't areas we know a lot about, however even in familiar territory (I am part of a sporting club) the same thing might happen.


Meeting New people is different as I'm not sure how to sound "appealing" - or is it as simple as sounding passionate about whatever you're into?


@lennycat2017 Thanks, although I'm not great at small talk or how to talk about myself positively. There's one of my areas of concern.


The other bit of paranoia is looking "lost" most of the time. It could be that I'm extremely self conscious but it's more a mix of judgement (I don't know what causes this, but as I've grown up I don't look into this as much) and not knowing how to start a relationship from scratch. I think it could be that I just want to belong when most of the time I'm alone. Also it could be jealousy of seeing people with (on the outside at least) healthy connections.


Re: Hard to express myself & been described as hard to read

Hey @svrooster 


Thanks for sharing and reaching out! That was very brave of you. 


I can relate with some of what you're feeling.  Most people find social situations challenging to a certain extent.


I guess my advice is to just be yourself. I know that sounds hard to do right now, but it's honestly the best advice I can give you. I think as long as you are a kind person, and treat people well, then people will see that and appreciate it. Smiling also helps others feel comfortable. You do not have to be the most interesting person, or most passionate person, or the loudest person in the room to make a few good quality friends. That's all you really need - a few, good quality friends. Of course, you will most likely need to interact with someone to become friends, which may require you to put yourself out there a little bit, but I encourage you to be yourself and try to rid yourself of any pressure to be someone else, when interacting and getting to know someone. 


When starting a conversation with someone you can say things like "Hey, my name is X, I don't think I've met you before?" or "Hey, my name is X, it's nice to meet you." Obviously the way you approach someone will differ depending on the context, but that's just an idea. 

Then with small talk you can do the following:

"So how long have you been working here/ coming here/ studying here?" 

"What are you studying?" or "What is your role?" for work. 

I guess just ask yourself - what is it you'd like to know about the person in front of you - and just ask them whatever that is (so long as it is not rude on inappropriate). I love pets, so sometimes when I meet a person for the first time, I'll ask them if they have a pet. You can talk about some things that interest you - books, videogames, netflix shows, movies, exercise, sport, family, friends, politics, whatever floats your boat. 


If this sort of stuff is really bothering you, you might benefit from some social skills training from a professional. If so, I recommend asking your psychiatrist or GP to recommend you to someone. 


It may be a really good idea for you to call Friendsline (see here) or KHL (see here), to ease some of your loneliness and practice interacting with others. You can start the conversation with "Hey, I'm just calling because I feel uncomfortable with social interactions and would like to practice talking to another person. Is that okay?" 


I hope some of this helps. Please keep us updated with your journey. 



Re: Hard to express myself & been described as hard to read

@svrooster I thought you might be interested in next week's getting real session about sharing your story.  It might be a great way for you to get some support or ideas about how to share more of yourself with other people. Hope to see you on there!