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.
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.