In this counseling answer:
“Bullying can cause so many problems later in life such as the ones you are going through now. Please start a journal by taking a self-inventory. Write down all of your good attributes and successes no matter how insignificant you may think they are. Please do not let the bully win. You have overcome a lot and have many successes, brother. Keep going to the last home run and overcome these last lingering obstacles.”
As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear brother,
Thank you for writing to us with your most important concern. Ma sha’ Allah, you have so many great accomplishments brother: you are a professional, an engineer with a good job; you were a good student; you are intelligent. I bet you are handsome as well!
With all your positives, sadly, you have developed social anxiety and fears related to your experiences of being bullied when you were growing up. I’m really sorry you were a victim of bullying, brother. Bullying can cause so many problems later in life such as the ones you are going through now.
The NCBI states that “Children who were victims of bullying have been consistently found to be at higher risk for internalizing problems and suffered from diagnoses of anxiety disorder and depression in young adulthood and middle adulthood (18–50 years of age) as well as had higher risks for antisocial behaviors” (mod).
As you can see, brother, what you have been experiencing is likely a result of your being bullied as a child and a young teen. While you have overcome some of your issues by seeing your successes, there is still work to be done. In sha’ Allah, I kindly suggest that you continue to work on your self-confidence and self-esteem. You can take courses online such as this one or look for classes in your local community. Many professionals take these classes to perform better at work and to build the confidence to present lengthy presentations to large audiences. Learning how to increase confidence and self-esteem is a win-win situation for most people. There is a lot of basic core communication skills which are also taught and can be useful in everyday life.
Please start a journal by taking a self-inventory. Write down all of your good attributes and successes no matter how insignificant you may think they are. I would ask that you review these strengths and attributes daily. Add on at least one positive thing each day.
I would like you to do some homework regarding your perception of being “short and thin”. A quick Google search brings up all sorts of men who are respected and admired, who do not have great height or weight such as Robin Williams, Prince, Tom Cruise, Kevin Hart, Bob Marley, and the list goes on. This is not to say that one should focus on musicians or celebrities as we are Muslims. However, it does illustrate that these men, despite their height, attained skills in acting and in other areas of life that made them successful. None of them had a problem getting a wife, and neither will you!
By negating the internalized vision you have of yourself into one that is positive will be conducive to social interactions. For example, you will not let people take advantage of you, you will communicate in a solid and grounded way, and you will welcome new conversations with confidence. Goals that you have set can be easier to attain, in sha’ Allah, such as driving a car and getting married. Most of what we are attracted to is the person inside the body. While physical attraction is important, it is what the person is about that wins in the end. When you learn to love the body Allah (swt) gave you and let your light shine from inside out, people will be naturally drawn to you as someone they would like to get to know.
As far as your anxiety and stress due to your job, please do engage in some self-care techniques which have been proven to reduce anxiety and stress such as walking daily, exercising, progressive muscle relaxation, doing dkhir, journaling, doing charity work as well as deep breathing.
I also highly suggest, dear brother, you follow up on your interests in astronomy, science, and sports. Engage in activities in which you will learn more on the subjects or become an active participant (sports). This will decrease your stress as you are doing something that you enjoy and that build up your confidence.
Sadly, your fear of driving may be another effect of the bullying you experienced. You are afraid to drive for fear of hitting someone. Oftentimes, adult victims of childhood bullying fear losing control. In the situation of a child being bullied, the child feels they have no control over their personal space, body, and mind. They feel these were overtaken by the bully with his/her cruelty. Repeated enough times, the child’s sense of control over life situations is diminished and can result in phobias or fears as an adult.
While it is more difficult to overcome, it can be done, brother. I would suggest that you start driving with someone in the car in increments. Drive up and down the driveway or about 20 feet by a curbside. When you are a little more comfortable, go further. Keeping doing this until you can drive comfortably around a block or two. When you have done this, you are on your way!
Please, keep in mind brother that the only limitations you have are ones that you are allowing from a long term ingrained fear. Fear that was based on reality. That reality is over, and you are stronger than you think. If you keep living in fear and self-consciousness, then the bully of your childhood won.
Please do not let the bully win. You have overcome a lot and have many successes, brother. Keep going to the last home run and overcome these last lingering obstacles. In sha’ Allah, with faith in Allah (swt), you can do it. I have full confidence in you.
We wish you the best brother. Please let us know how you are doing.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.