I was in church, prepared for the sermon, when this triangular-diagram was projected onto the big screen behind my pastor. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This was no concept that I was new to, but I was surprised to see it being brought up in church. As I gazed at this big pyramid in front of me, I was devastated by what I realized.
I was trying to skip a step. My inability to fully connect with people is not new to me. I’ve known about it for a while and I’ve even written about it here. Yet, seeing my flaw mapped out on this pyramid made my light bulb shine bright. I lack esteem and I struggle to accomplish self-actualization because I’m missing a fundamental component of my foundation.
What I mean is, instead of actually trying to address and overcome my social phobias and fears, I’ve been going around them. You have no idea how many books and videos I spend time learning from- all about becoming my best self. Yet, if you’d asked me how many books I read about how to build relationships with people, I might just throw up from the thought.
Like a bacteria infecting an open wound on a limb, my social anxiety has spread and cripples every achievement I’ve tried to make over the past few years. I don’t allow myself to really lean onto others for emotional support, to fully attach myself to other people, to allow others to celebrate me. But I ignore this infection, hoping to strengthen my other limbs to make up for my losses.
I brought it up to my therapist recently and she made an amazing point. She told me that if I had the same optimism and applied myself like I do for moving to Japan, maybe I’d make progress in my social life. Talk about a hard pill to swallow, my stomach turned just thinking about how she was right. The way that bonding with the children in my class this year positively impacted me is proof, to me, that a little bit of fellowship can go such a long way. How much more joy could I unlock, if I just allowed myself to take the risk of bonding with others.