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I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

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I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby Peter1986 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:15 pm

When I was in elementary school I became friends with lots of the other students in my class quite naturally, like most people do at that age.
This then also made it easy for me to get a stable group of friends, and some of my best memories are from around junior high school when I was 13-16 years old.
That was the time when I had several friends that I hung out with in my free time, and I always had at least like 3-4 friends at school that I always spent time with, and this was definitely extremely energizing and made me a very spontaneous and confident person in general - I didn't even have any problems making eye contact with cute girls and smiling at them, that was just exciting and fun.
I have lots of memories of really good times when I was fooling around and being spontaneous in general with my friends back then, and I even have several memories of moments when I experience pure exhilaration just because I thought my life was so awesome, and this strongly indicates that I really did feel great back then.

However, in high school I started losing contact with lots of my old friends, and ever since then it has been really hard to "get back" to how it used to be.
Basically, I became more and more careful around people and started to become more and more of a loner, although I do still sporadically meet 1-2 of my old friends, but it's only a coupl times a year or something like that.
Now I have studied an engineering physics program at university about 500 miles from home for a couple years, and even though my new classmates seemed to like me in the beginning they noticed that I was fairly careful and quiet (basically, I never approached them myself and I didn't talk that much, even though I tried to be friendly when I spoke to them) and then gradually became more and more nervous around me, and now they look really insecure and uneasy when they see me at the campus and say "...hi" with some effort.
And this also makes me feel more on my guard as well, since I am worried that my own approaches will just fail from now on or something.
This has also made it really hard for me to make eye contact with girls as well, because everything simply feels so serious - I don't feel that casual excitement, I just feel stiff and awkward.
And sometimes when I think back on my best social experiences from my teenage years, it has such as impact on me that I actually start crying, because I really wish that I could regain that personality that I had back then.

What do you think that I should do?
I don't know where I should start, because it would feel weird if I just randomly entered a conversation with them somewhere at school when they had already been friends for a long time.
I have considered going to one of the night clubs or parties at my university and see what happens there, but I feel that have a lot of expectations on myself and that I immediately must make the same positive impression on people like I did naturally back when I had my confident personality, even though I realise that I shouldn't think that way.
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Re: I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby xdude » Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:16 am

Hey Peter1986,

I don't know if some counseling is an option, but maybe worth speaking with someone. Could also be some depression affecting you. On the other hand, I also think it's normal enough that as we move on from our youth, some of us end up taking on more serious minded personalities. That can be a good thing too in certain types of professions. That written, yea, wanting to enjoy relationships to some degree is understandable, and a part of life that is costly to miss.
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Re: I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby Peter1986 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:23 pm

xdude wrote:Hey Peter1986,

I don't know if some counseling is an option, but maybe worth speaking with someone. Could also be some depression affecting you. On the other hand, I also think it's normal enough that as we move on from our youth, some of us end up taking on more serious minded personalities. That can be a good thing too in certain types of professions. That written, yea, wanting to enjoy relationships to some degree is understandable, and a part of life that is costly to miss.

Thanks, yeah I did suffer from depression between 2006-2009, although I managed to break free from that and typically feel quite fine nowadays.
It's just that sometimes I can have those flashbacks of my junior high school days when I did have lots of friends and the whole social thing was really fluid.

There is also one occasion that I feel particularly strongly about, and that's when I was at a camp school in 1999;
lots of things just felt right about the whole social part there.
I remember that there were two occasions when I made casual eye contact with two different girls that I didn't know, and I am pretty sure that it was those same girls that approached me with some of their friends just a few minutes later on each of those occasion, and one of them gave me her phone number as well but for some reason I never called, so that might be another "missing link" that probably still annoys me a bit.
And also the fact that at this time I also already had a bunch of friends at home of course made me feel even more like "part of the group", so to speak.

I think that the fact that I could easily make long eye contact with girls that I didn't even know back then says a lot about how confident I felt, whereas nowadays all of that feels way too serious, which takes away that whole playful vibe.
I can do it if I notice very strong signs that the girl already seems to like me, but it would of course be really fun if I could do it without having to get that validation, which I didn't need when I was a teenager.
I will see if I can arrange a meeting with a psychologist at my university or something.

I have noticed that it means a lot for me to meet mmy old classmates from my junior high school times - right now we consider having a "reunion" in 2022, and last time we had a reunion like that it was absolutely a huge energy boost.
It felt like being back in my junior high school years again, and it's much easier for me to connect with my old self in those settings.
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Re: I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby xdude » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:39 am

Yea, and I don't have any simple answer either.

Some of it may just come down to what happens to most of us as we move beyond those youthful years. For some our sense of adult responsibility increases, as does our awareness of social cues so we end up being more careful in what we say/do. So yea, less fluid but you know for people who don't change it doesn't always end up well for them either. It's really about finding a balance between who you were in youth, and who you are becoming, and will be as you continue to change.

I think the positive here is that you are aware that your balance has shifted too far to one side, and now is the time to get to work on that. Nothing to be ashamed of either. Many/most of us are constantly changing, and struggle with what you are. Some counseling, if possible, could really pay off now and later versus trying to make the changes on your own. Think of it like investing in a personal trainer ;)
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Re: I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby Peter1986 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:04 pm

Yeah, that's true.
I don't know why those memories of that camp school event are so overwhelmingly powerful above anything else, but probably the combination of the new and invigorating environment (it was a ski resort high up in the mountains during the summer, and we stayed there for about three days) and also the fact that pretty much everything social that I can imagine flowed extremely well there, and with no real negative experiences at all (I certainly cannot remember anything bad from there).
I do of course have memories like this from the actual junior high school years as well, but I also have some negative memories from that time (occasional fights with friends and things like that) so they are less overpowering.

I would guess that I am probably too dependent on what other people think of me nowadays.
I always feel like I have to live up to my old social self and have to make a very positive impression everywhere, just because this usually happened back then, but then of course this was also largely because I didn't worry about what people would think of me and just was my spontaneous relaxed self - I even acted really spontaneous and outgoing to the cashiers at the supermarkets, almost like how some people act when they are slightly intoxicated but still perfectly well-behaved (I would typically hear that I came off as charming and likeable).
And I do notice that I tend to get quite positive reactions from people on exactly those occasions when I happen to feel great myself, and the old me to some extent "reappears" for a moment.
I was detained by one of the security guards at my university a few months ago because he thought that I looked "troubled" and "uneasy", and then the next time he met me I was in a much greater mood and he was genuinely shocked by the difference, and said that it was "like night and day".
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Re: I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby xdude » Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:23 am

Maybe you are still being affected by some mild depression, but again, I think it's normal enough that as people age they become less spontaneous, more conscious of possible rejection, and in addition... the weight of finishing a degree (and later work), wear on people too.

I think you already hit the nail on the head. Maybe take a few more risks socially, and see what happens. Looks like it has already worked out when you have. Our emotions affect our actions, but practicing actions can also affect our emotions too.
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Re: I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby Peter1986 » Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:32 pm

xdude wrote:Maybe you are still being affected by some mild depression, but again, I think it's normal enough that as people age they become less spontaneous, more conscious of possible rejection, and in addition... the weight of finishing a degree (and later work), wear on people too.

I think you already hit the nail on the head. Maybe take a few more risks socially, and see what happens. Looks like it has already worked out when you have. Our emotions affect our actions, but practicing actions can also affect our emotions too.

Yeah, I originally assumed that these thoughts back on my junior high school days were just pure nostalgia, but I think that the reason why one experiences this kind of bittersweet nostalgia in the first place is because of a longing for something that actually did feel better back then, and I might keep thinking about those days because I am trying to figure out what I did right back then and how I can apply it to my current life.
I have considered doing a little bit of "acting" where I force myself to do things like smile more often, talk just a little bit longer than normal to people and things like that, just to "train my social muscles", so to speak.

The biggest obstacle at the moment seems to be the whole "validation" thing;
it's incredible how much simpler it is to act like my past self if someone else takes the initiative.
But instead of being dependent on that, I should probably act as if they had already taken the initiative, so that I kind of bypass that whole part with them having to approach me first.
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Re: I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby xdude » Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:32 am

Personally I see nothing wrong with practicing. The word 'act' maybe will trigger someone, but if it was about becoming better at math, art, a sport, physical exercise, the list goes on and on... while we might feel like doing nothing or something else, waiting for some external motivation, but most would agree, pushing past that, taking some concrete steps by practicing pays off.

I think your words 'training your social muscle memory' are perfect.

For whatever it's worth though -

The thing is, when we are very young our memory of the past are often poorly formed. As our brains mature, our ability to recall details from our past often improves for a while. Add in that our teenage years we're just reaching that point of spreading our wings, the first steps toward independence from our parents, and our hormones are raging ;) Many people do recall those as the glory years, so that's normal too.

Point being, I also think many of us people have a way of telling ourselves those "good old days stories". Maybe they were, but our memories are imperfect, and we have a way of forgetting the parts that were stressful at the time, or re-writing we got past those stresses. There is nothing wrong with having positive memories of the past, but the good old days stories can end up being self-defeating too if we are missing out on life in the now.
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Re: I really miss my former much more outgoing personality

Postby Autumn218 » Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:29 am

Maybe is not relevant because i don't miss the past at all but if i miss something is that feeling of innocent hapiness ,that feeling of being able to trust others that makes you more happy.like the word is a fairytale.
To explain better. i remember a time when i was more innocent maybe naive but happy because i trusted others and i wasn't afraid of them but then i got hurt because i was so trusting and swear i would never trust anyone again ever.
now i am thinking maybe i should be more open but still less trusting/more carefull .but is easier said than done. To find the middle where you are not completely carefree but not completely closed up.but it seems too difficult.
Also i agree that memories and nostalgia make it appear sometimes better than it was and forget the bad things.it is a filter that you only remember the good.
i think i have a filter more close to that i only remember the bad.
i don't really miss anything like i feel more free now although less hopefully innocent or idealized optimistic.
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