Introducing Myself - Ryan M. from Toronto, ON


#1

Hey guys, my name is Ryan Mueller - I’m 24 (25 in February) and am a musician, guitar teacher and business owner in Toronto. I’m introducing myself and am sharing a bit of my story.

When I was growing up, I always found myself to be a bit of a black sheep, in the sense that my interests and outlooks were often quite different from other kids, and I had different interests - I loved video games, whereas other kids loved sports and wanted to be firemen, police officers, etc. I also started playing guitar at age 9, as a result of my dad first putting one in my hands (he also started when he was 9).

My school years were good for the most part. I wasn’t bullied all that much (a bit in grade 7 and in grade 9), however I was always quite introverted and didn’t always find people that I connected with too much - even those I DID connect with were still quite different. Not to say I was looking for a carbon copy of myself, but I still did feel a bit lonely at times. The group of friends I’ve known since kindergarten are luckily a rather accepting bunch, but I still don’t have much in common with a lot of them, so I still sometimes feel like an outcast.

This sort of thing did improve over time, as I started focusing on myself, my own development and pursuing my own interests, and that led me to me finding some other people who are more like myself.

This also improved once I started teaching guitar - I’d done it off and on in the past, and in 2015 I joined a business mentoring group through my guitar teacher. That mentoring group is filled with the best people I’ve ever met in my life, and they’ve been instrumental in my growth as a person.

I was terrified at first - not just because of the SAD I would later discover in myself, but with all the other fears that first come with starting your own business. That in mind, I took action over time, and now I earn more money than I did at my day job, while working part time hours at a small studio space that I’ve leased. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, but it’s still not where I want it to be.

I’ve also been playing in a band since 2009 with my brother (a drummer), and our band is going to be releasing our first full-length album in a few weeks. If you’re interested in hearing us, we’re called A Flock Named Murder - we’re an extreme metal band that combines a wide variety of influences to create our own sound. You can find us on Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, & Soundcloud.

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So how did I discover my Social Anxiety? Well, I’m a pretty reflective person in the sense that I think a lot about my past experiences and interactions, and came to this conclusion very early this year. On the note of self reflection, I feel very fortunate that I’m quite good at digging to the roots of many fears that I have, and believe I know what specific interactions may have triggered my social anxiety for specific situations.

For me, SAD is prevalent mainly specific situations - meeting new people (especially those who may look a bit more physically intimidating or are VERY assertive), large groups, and talking to girls.

SAD currently affects me as I try following up with potential new students, giving directions to my current students and in talking to girls I have an interest in, beyond friendship. Currently I’ve never been in a relationship of any kind - never even kissed a girl. I DID get ask a couple girls out and went on my first dates last year and had fun, but unfortunately they never fermented into anything beyond that. That’s one of big drivers as to why I’m here, as it’s an area of my life that has been unfulfilled for a very long time.

I DO believe that over the last couple years I’ve made TREMENDOUS progress in overcoming this on my own, and do believe that I could eventually beat it on my own. However, as Dr. Richards said in the beginning sessions, it doesn’t HAVE to take 10 years to overcome social anxiety, and I’d rather have it not be like that. I want to slay this beast NOW, so that I can flourish in the many areas of my life the way I’ve always wanted to, and have 0 fear in building my guitar school in the way I dream of.

I discovered this program through a friend of mine through my business mentoring group from Hawaii - I’m not sure if he introduced himself here yet.

Anyways, I’m very happy to be here, I’m near the end of session 3 of this therapy series and so far I’m absolutely loving it, and it’s lining up with many principles and values that I already hold. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to regularly contribute to the forum here, as I’m a very busy guy, but I’m happy to lend an ear and share my own experiences where applicable.

Cheers everybody!


#2

Hello RyanMueller,

Nice to meet you. Welcome to SAI Community!

Thank you for the honest introduction. I like the fact that you have also really filled out your profile page with your hobbies, likes, location. That’s awesome! That encourages more interaction. When we roll out the next update, this community will become closed, for series users, and I’ll try to encourage us all to do as you did. Thank you.

I know how SAD can smother, ruin lives, make everything a zero. I see you have a positive spirit there, you value your inner self when you wrote on your profile:
" I’m here because SAD has held me back in certain areas of my life that has frustrated me to no end, and I value myself too much than to let it rule over me for the rest of my life. I want to slay this beast for good, so that I can flourish and thrive in my life, the way I’ve always wanted to."

In all of us, I think, there is some light still there, we want to love ourselves, as we should, as we deserve to. How strong this light still is, though, … well that varies with all the years and pain of this. But we can all get back to that self-love and self-acceptance.

Obviously, as you write, you are here also to deal with perhaps trying to have a relationship in your life. That’s a natural intention, a healthy one. Most of us want relationships in life. SA will get in the way of healthier relationships for all of us, both men and women. I suggest to you now to keep yourself open to the process of therapy and self-acceptance, as you seem to be doing. Don’t focus on pressure or expectation of dating. You’re building a calmer, more rational self through this, one that is able to become more confident and comfortable, one that truly believes and acts on acceptance of self. This will obviously change your world as well. It will change anxiety in all situations, simply walking around, performing, dealing with people who you might consider of higher “worth”, putting everything in its proper place, rationally. And sure, this will also help with relationships, because, after all, that person, that woman is just another person like you. She’s just a human being like you. We know that, right? But the pressure and zaniness that SA brings, along with irrational ideas of what will cure you or make everything right again… well I see these things keep other people in irrational land for too long.

The way to all these things is through yourself here, ultimately. Luckily we can all get there. You’re right - it needn’t take 10 years to get there.


#3

Hey Mateo! Thank you for the warm welcome, I’m glad to be here. I’ve browsed this forum a little bit and have seen many of your contributions, and I really appreciate how detailed they are and how sincere you are in wanting to help people here. That warmth is something I think we all need.

One of the most important things that I’ve learned through being a teacher is that you’re teaching PEOPLE first, music second. Showing someone the musical skills and breaking things down for them, that’s the easy part. The more difficult part (speaking generally, not just from a SA perspective) is connecting with the students, motivating them and being their coach and source of guidance along their path. Some people tell you their whole life story once you first meet them, but others are more reserved from the get-go, and opening up yourself helps them feel comfortable and want to open up to you as well.

Not to say that I dump all of my insecurities on them, but I share with them stories of the times where I got frustrated or down in the dumps, and what I learned from the experiences. For a couple students (ones I’ve built much more rapport with and trust way more), I’ve actually told them that I’m doing this therapy and those I’ve told were super happy for me! One actually opened up about her own social anxieties.

You’re on the ball here.

I’m on board with what you’re saying about not putting too much pressure on myself - that’s one thing I’ve really liked about the approach with this therapy. That’s particularly important for me right now as I’m sort of getting over someone right now - a friend of mine I made through my business mentoring - we connect in a lot of ways and I sort of fell for her, except she lives on the other side of the continent. The logistics don’t line up for where we are and where we’re going.

So less pressure is good for me in this case, I believe. I know how I’m going to resolve this situation for myself, and I feel myself moving closer and closer towards true acceptance, but those wounds still need some time to heal - especially because we’re still very good friends, and I don’t want to sacrifice what we have for something that can’t be.

I’m really excited for all these changes to happen! It feels great knowing that I’m finally making an honest effort to tackle this once and for all.

Again, you’re totally right. All of those things I know intellectually, but my emotions don’t really listen and fear sets in. “Easier said than done”

I’m really glad it doesn’t need to take that long.

Thanks again Mateo! See you on the forum!