Bear with me: this is likely to be fairly long.
First, I want to list a series of "developmental deficits" that I perceive in myself. I define these as areas where I fell "behind" others, or did not develop to my full potential, due to my struggles with social anxiety, particularly in my younger years. The list is inherently subjective, but I believe the list itself is fairly accurate. What I'm not sure of are the degree and importance of the impairments.
The first deficit is a direct result of social anxiety: I didn't meet many people, I didn't have many friends, I didn't date many girls, I was a virgin at forty.
The second is somewhat related: there are many opportunities for experiences that I've missed, or activities that I would like to do that I've never tried. One example is that despite enjoying day hikes in nature, I have only been camping on two or three occasions as an adult.
The third deficit is a little different; it's work-related. I majored in Biology in school, but early on I got interested in computer programming, which is the field that I've worked in for the last twenty years. However, in college I imagined that switching to computer science would give me permission to become a complete recluse, so I kept it as a hobby. As a result, I'm almost completely self-taught. That, obviously, has advantages as well as the disadvantages, and shows how interested I was in the subject, but ... I still sometimes wonder whether getting a formal education in it would make me a better programmer, or at least make me more confident that I already am one.
Now, the point of this list isn't that I have flaws (everyone does), or that I have regrets about what I've missed by being developmentally delayed (= a late bloomer). I would guess those things fall pretty solidly within the realm of "normal".
Instead, I'm more interested in what I did with these facts: I repressed them. I tried to pretend, to myself and others, that they didn't exist. And it's the system I built up to do that that I want to talk about.
On the one hand, there's a part of me that wishes, would like to believe, and is willing to pretend, that it's competent at everything (or most things, or enough things ...) I have a good associative memory, so I can often pull something intelligent-sounding out of it, even if I don't really know what I'm talking about. Words, I'm really good at. Content, is a bit more variable.
Opposed to that tendency is a resistance to trying things, making decisions, committing to a course of action, because I'm afraid that I'm not, in fact, competent. It's quite obvious that this tendency keeps me inexperienced, but that seems preferable (at the time) to failing miserably and exposing my deficits.
One reason I'm writing this is that this system, the two opposing conscious forces covering up for the perceived deficits that have been pushed down towards (not completely into, but close to) the unconscious, explains a great deal about my tendency to be avoidant. Exposing the system, and especially the stuff I'm trying to suppress, might help me undo what's not working all that well.
And the other reason is to make it clear that I don't have all the answers, not even all the answers that it may appear I have. Some answers, maybe; some useful insights. I'm human; some things we all share without having to have wide experience. But I do have a tendency to fall back on the appearance of certainty, especially if the person I'm talking to appears to need that reassurance. But always, running underneath it all, I do it because _I_ need that reassurance.
And I wanted you all to know that.