It was pretty clear from my first steps (and inevitable fall straight after) to the present day, that I've always been an extrovert, always been bubbly, loud and confident. I'm not going to deny that or even try to convince you otherwise, it's a plain, cold hard fact. I'm an extrovert. But recently I've fallen out of that label slightly, since being diagnosed with anxiety, I've become a slight recluse and that extroverted personality has been watered down. Let me explain
In any friendship group, I've always been the loudest. From my first reports in pre-school to the latest ones in Sixth form, it's pretty much always been said that 'Molly is a very lively, bubbly girl, hardworking and clever, but she doesn't stop talking' and I'm not ashamed of that, I have a lot to say and it's just who I am. But being diagnosed with anxiety at such a young age and having so much of my teenage experience taken up by this mental illness has massively affected my confidence.
In many ways, I'm still confident, I'm a confident public speaker and am confident with friends and family. But in other social situations, I'm like a cold meal needing reheating, I take a while to warm up. And people who've known me for years, mistake this for disinterest or rudeness. They see me not being loud and cracking jokes as me not having a good time and this just isn't true. I just take a bit longer now to feel comfortable, you have to consider the effects anxiety can have on a young impressionable teen and how scary it is for me not to feel confident. It's like losing a part of me and it's taking a lot of getting used to. I'm still very fast at making friends, still very quick to make jokes and slide into social circles with ease. But on some occasions, what was once inevitable with me, is just a little harder.
Anxiety as an illness makes you question everything about yourself, even my personality and intelligence which were always things I never doubted, are now things I constantly question. A message to a friend that's unread for too long literally makes me think they hate my guts or a missed call leads to my mind jumping to the conclusion that someone's after me, no joke that's actually been a worry of mine.
My once stable core of confidence is now very shattered, and by surrounding myself with positive people and influences it's slowly rebuilding, but it's not fully fixed yet. I will still hide from certain people in supermarket aisles, one time I hid behind a bush and fell into it. I still avoid certain situations in order to maintain panic attack free days. Still panic whenever the phone rings, still hope the knock at the door will just go away.
It hasn't in some ways been helped by studying at home this year and I know that. While the move to study online was totally perfect for me and my anxiety, in many ways it's fed the confidence issues and made them worse. I know that underneath the many layers of anxiety, my true self is loud and passionate, not afraid to speak her mind. When I'm at parties, in social situations in which I'm comfortable, I shine. But it's just taking a while for me to accept that I'm not always going to be confident and that's okay. I'm an introverted extrovert and that's just something I need to get used to.