I hope this isn't too broad of a question and I can receive some guidance because it's something that's been troubling me for years.
I have been studying Spanish for 5+ years and people tell me I have a good vocabulary. I can speak around most topics even when I don't know the specific words. I married into a Spanish speaking family so in addition to the audio, video, workbooks, programs, and software resources I have real live people to whom I can speak. The problem is when I have to speak in Spanish I immediately feel a weight come down on me that drains my energy and hangs over me like a cloud. It's not fear I feel exactly, more of a sense of melancholy.
I've thought about this but have no idea how to overcome my dread of speaking in Spanish.
I've realized that in English I love speaking. I love words. I like to joke and tell stories. I read a ton and spent a lot of time learning about the finesse of one word over another.
In Spanish I tend to remain quiet and often feel the effort is not worth the payoff because I don't feel I'm conveying the proper emotion or sense of the story. I get blank looks and little response to my efforts.
Given my family connections I know I should take advantage of my opportunity to learn about others and the culture. The problem is I just want to speak with words that have meaning to me because I connect more deeply with the story.
Am I the only one? How have others overcome this? The only advice I'm ever given is to "just talk" but that sounds mostly like telling someone, for example, to ignore their arachnophobia by handling spiders, which doesn't provide much guidance to me. The other one is to "stop thinking in English" but certainly that's far easier to say than do.
Thanks for any advice!