On December 7th my cousin who is also my CLS worker and I had our first coffee group for people with social anxiety and invisible disabilities. Before we had the group that same week Carly and I had the awesome privilege of being interviewed for news 8 channel with Carly's friend who is a news anchor Casey Jones. It turned out when Carly put up a story on Instagram about the group we were trying to start Casey saw our story and he really liked it and reached out to Carly to ask if we would like to be interviewed for news about our coffee group. Of course we were super excited and agreed to being interviewed. It was a great experience and of course I was pretty nervous before our interview but a little bit during the interview I started to become more and more comfortable and eventually loved it. I got the privilege to speak about my disability "22q Deletion Syndrome" and tell more about this disability that not a whole lot of people know about but is very common. Afterwords, my Mom said that I was glowing.
I have always wanted to start my own group like where we would meet at different coffee shops/bookstores. But because it is hard for me to join a new group and keep up with it. One of the strong reasons is because of my anxiety and because I never really truly felt comfortable because these different groups that I tried were just too many people, too loud and hard to follow and concentrate on just one conversation because so many people were talking at once a lot of the time. I've tried mostly bible study groups because I have always wanted to be a part of one but haven't found one for me yet. For this group Carly and I started which is called "Cozy Coffee And Friendly Faces". My hope is to make new friends because it's always been hard meeting people my age because I don't go to school like the typical young adult and I don't have a job yet. Another hope is to meet and talk with people with similar or different invisible disabilities. I would love to meet more people with 22q Deletion syndrome as I have only met 2 now 3 other people in my life who has this syndrome and that was a great experience.
But meeting more people my age with this syndrome and have familiar connections and struggles would be amazing to discuss what our life is like with 22q or other invisible disabilities. With our first meeting for "Cozy Coffee And Friendly faces" Carly and I were amazed by how great the first group meeting turned out. About 8-9 other people showed up to this group and we all played a fun game and had great talks and laughs. Everyone seemed to feel comfortable and some were even comfortable to share what disability they have. Because of how many people showed up to our coffee group this shows how great the need is for a group like this. For a group for people with social anxieties and invisible disabilities. There are groups out there for people with visible disabilities but I have not so far seen a group for people with social anxieties and invisible disabilities. So this group is something new and exciting. You may be nervous trying a new group but when you go to a group with people who have similar struggles and social anxiety like you in a way it can make you feel more comfortable and more open with each other. New friendships can be formed overtime. For me I am excited about this group because for a while its been hard for me to meet people my age and who have similar struggles like I do because I do not have a job as of right now, but would like to get one eventually. I don't go to school like the normal young adult type. But I am eventually going to be taking a program starting next year called "Ready for life" for people with disabilities and different struggles. I am really looking forward to that it will be a new chapter in my life. So if you're like me and have social anxiety and have any type of disability or invisible disability and find it hard to be around lots of people and if it's hard joining other groups, I totally understand. This type of group we want to keep a decent size and help others to feel comfortable and to go at their own pace and not feel pressured to always have to "talk" but just be there and enjoy friendly company. If you would like a group like this I encourage you wherever you are in the world to maybe start one of your own groups like this as well. It can be a big step but it will be worth it in the end. To make new friendships and enjoy going places. As Roy T Bennet said
"You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone. Change begins at the end of your comfort zone"
Check out my Cousin Carly and my story featured on the news here...