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Social Anxiety

by Elise 2 years ago in anxiety
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Things you do if you have social anxiety

A Little Info About Social Anxiety

Avoiding, overthinking, feeling awkward is just a few of the things we deal with when it comes to being anxious in the social aspects of our lives. It can be hard to get out of your house at times, it might even be a struggle to find work or go to school. There can also be physical symptoms of anxiety that spring up and make everything feel so much worse. Blushing, shaking, sweating, nausea, tightness in the throat are just a few of the things that can happen due to anxiety, and it’s terrible.

This list should also be educational for people who know someone that suffers from social anxiety. Understanding your friend or family member and why they act a certain way can be helpful in progressing towards a better life. And good for those people who want to learn and help their friends and family out when they’re suffering, you are a true hero. Sometimes just being there as support is a good step in the right direction. Try not to be judgmental or harsh, as it requires patience and understanding when it comes to dealing with mental health issues. 15 or so years ago social anxiety wasn’t widely talked about. Mental illness, in general, wasn’t widely acknowledged, so I’m glad to see these things are coming out and being spoken about. Talking about these sorts of things no matter how uncomfortable it can make us is necessary.

Social anxiety is a mental illness that many people deal with, and those people tend to hide is really well when they need to. But it restricts and holds people back from living their lives to the fullest no matter how much they try to hide it.

Shyness Vs Social Anxiety

I've talked a bit about this before but I will repeat it here. People tend to get social anxiety confused with being shy. There is a major difference between the two though. However, you can have both. Most people can feel shy in new situations but it doesn’t stop them from doing daily activities and living their lives how they want. Shyness can also be seen as a characteristic and because it doesn't impact the decisions they make in their lives it is considered normal to be shy. For most of my life I was told that I was shy, turns out I was just anxious, maybe a little shy but mostly anxious and no one picked up on it.

Now social anxiety is different from shyness because it’s not normal, and I hate using the word normal because it separates people from each other. However, when it affects being able to do something as simple as going to the bank or supermarket or making a simple phone call then I would say that is not normal. It causes distress in the individual’s life and it does impact how they live. So if you have a read through the list you might get a better understanding of what people with social anxiety deal with in their day to day lives.

1. You avoid social gatherings like the plague

Avoiding social events tends to be one of the biggest, and sometimes, most depressing aspects of our lives. Even if you want to go to that party you are usually too riddled with anxiety to bring yourself to do it. Sometimes because of anxiety people tend to miss really special events such as weddings, birthday parties or family events. And if by some miracle you do somehow manage to get up and go out you are usually a wallflower. This leads you to feel left out and even though you want to be part of it all you are too anxious to do so. Unless of course, you involve a little alcohol and maybe then the anxiety will be drowned out long enough to enjoy yourself. There are few out there who are brave souls and try to be as social as possible and I congratulate them on their strength, well done. But the sad thing is that a lot of us usually feel like the black sheep of the family, or the odd one out in a friend group and we tend to blame ourselves.

2. Avoiding phone calls

You’ll be scrolling through your phone peacefully when all of sudden it begins to ring. Your instinct is to throw the phone away or hide it and act like you didn’t see it ringing. If someone saw you do that they’d think you had just been threatened or something. Getting phone calls can trigger your anxiety, it's the strangest thing on the list I think, because the person can't see you so you won't know if they're judging you, nor should you care. And yet it's still frightening to answer a call, maybe sometimes it's scary to reply to a message. But I do want to say bravo to the people who answer the call without knowing who it is or why they’re calling.

3. You overthink every little detail after interacting with someone

You find yourself in line at the cash register. The cashier asks how your day has been, you respond with, ‘good thanks’ which is perfectly normal to anyone else. But you feel your face begin to flush, and you swear that the cashier just gave you a weird look. You begin to overthink about the way you spoke, or how pink your cheeks probably are. That sort of situation might cause you to stop going to that store altogether. Sometimes you’ll start to think about different scenarios that you might one day be in. You’ll overthink it to the point of becoming afraid to ever be in that situation. You might even think about the time when you went to a friends house and their other friend or partner made a rude remark, now you never want to go back there. There are so many different scenarios that you can think up that will stop you from doing normal daily things.

4. Physical symptoms

Someone might start talking to you out of the blue and suddenly you feel your face flush, you begin to sweat or tremble. You can feel your throat constrict which makes talking hard. What makes it worse is that, because it’s all physical symptoms you think the person has noticed, and maybe they have but not to the extent your mind makes you believe. A simple conversation with a stranger can leave you feeling like you just fought for your life, and that’s what anxiety does. It’s the fight or flight response to danger.

5. You think everyone hates you, is judging you or thinks your weird

A person glances at you, or maybe someone moves away from where you’re sitting. You hear people laughing and automatically assume they’re making fun of you. Whatever the situation is you become paranoid that you’ve done something to cause judgment, hate or just plain awkwardness. Most of the time it’s all in your head, and usually, people won’t remember you the moment they’ve passed by. You’re just another face in a sea of faces they see daily.

6. People tend to ask why you’re so quiet

Why don't you ever talk? That’s a question that people tend to ask, and it can usually leave you feeling self-conscious and upset. Even hearing the remark ‘smile more’ is rude. In conversations, you tend to stay quiet for fear that you will say something stupid, but when people start to pick up on the fact that you’re so quiet they like to point it out. Usually, it’s because you couldn’t bear the thought of saying the wrong thing and looking like a complete idiot. So you stay silent, you don’t smile because it might attract attention, or maybe it’s because you don’t like your smile. Whatever the case may be, getting questions like that can hurt. But let me say one thing here, sometimes being the observer or the listener can actually be a good thing because usually, you’ll be able to figure out who to avoid. You tend to see right through people’s facades and can figure out what someone's intentions are more often than others because you’re observing.

7. You tend to have very few people you’re comfortable with

You might only be comfortable being yourself around your mother, father, sibling/s or maybe just one friend you trust. A lot of us tend to have different levels of comfort with people that we love, and we also use different masks around them. Maybe there is one person that you feel comfortable enough to be able to speak your mind with. There might even be a friend who you can be vulnerable around. It is a treasure to have people like that in your life.

8. You can be an extrovert with social anxiety

People tend to throw social anxiety and being an introvert into the same category. But surprisingly you can be an extrovert who suffers as well, and I feel like that may be the worst mix. Because you want to go to that party but the fear holds you back, the paranoia stops you. You might want to go out and meet new people, but how can you do that when you’re too scared that no one will like you?

9. Relationships are harder to form

Finding someone who understands you and will be supportive is difficult, not impossible though. Those who don’t suffer from a mental illness may have a hard time understanding or being supportive, but being educated in these matters can make a difference. Having low self-esteem can be a big reason why relationships are too hard to find or keep. You might think you aren’t worthy or good enough of love and affection, and it affects forming a strong bond. Letting someone new into your life, showing them who you are can be scary, but being vulnerable can sometimes free you, it’s one of the strongest things you can do.

10. You are your biggest critic

Okay, so you fumbled on your words during a conversation with a coworker. Now all you can think about is how weird they might think you are. Maybe someone made a joke at your expense, and you start to believe that what they said is true. They always say that true confidence comes from within, but when you are your own worst enemy you can’t seem to find it. Social anxiety has a lot to do with low self-esteem, and when someone has low self-esteem they tend to lack self-love, sometimes they even hate themselves and that’s why so many are their biggest critic.


About the author


I love writing & reading poetry & fiction.

Grateful for those who read and support me.

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