Social anxiety is evil and affects thousands of people. It comes in different forms and in different levels. It can trick outsiders into thinking the person that suffers from it is rude, anti-social (by choice), doesn’t care, weird and so on. It makes “outsiders” feel uncomfortable, not knowing how to react which also makes the person with SA feel even more uncomfortable. It can stop some people from even going outside, not being able to do something simple that we take for granted like going to a store.
It makes one feel alone, isolated, bad about themselves, feel like they don’t fit in, not good enough, feeling like no one cares and that doesn’t include when the anxiety kicks in. Once it kicks in, it can feel overwhelming to the point of tears, claustrophobic, can’t breath, maybe even like one is going to loose their mind. Everyone that has SA, experience different things but one thing is for sure, it can be complete hell.
The fears are not rational but they are VERY real and there. One can’t just “get over it” or “just do it”. To the “average” person, it can seem like a person with SA is being dramatic and they just can’t understand what one is going through. It makes it hard for one to make friends. It’s a very hard and scary battle.
The reason why I am talking about this and why I know about it is because I have social anxiety. I never knew I had it until late last year. Looking back at my life, I can tell you that I have had it all my life. I thought it was just being shy but come to find out, it’s more than that. Now that I know what it is, in some ways it makes it easier to deal with. In other ways, it’s just the same but VERY frustrating. Different people get it from different experiences. I know where mine came from.
I was surrounded by a lot of negativity. I had positive stuff/people in my life but it seemed like the negative out weighed the positive. I’m sure it didn’t but to a kid, it can seem that way. I was pushed aside, not a lot of people interacting with me (and to a child this is important), made fun of, threatened, called names, made to feel stupid and that I wasn’t worth people’s time. Even by teachers and my school. I didn’t get a good education and this adds to the anxiety. I did have a few friends in school (some I even have re-connected with today) and to those, I send thanks for giving me a chance. For not judging and seeing something in me that for some reason others did not.
By the time I was a teen, I wasn’t being bullied (except for a little in gym class) but the damage was already done. I did try for drama class to prove to myself that I could do something like that even though it was hard. By almost everyone around me, I was asked why was I doing it, saying I was too shy and saying I wouldn’t make it. I did it and I made it but it was difficult. I just didn’t have the confidence.
Fast forward to today. I can go out in public, I can apply for jobs and work. It’s chatting with people – web or in person (in a social environment), talking on the phone and sometimes leaving comments on the web is what I have problems with. It doesn’t matter if it’s family, friends or people I hardly know, it’s all the same. I do go through some of those things stated above. It’s almost a daily battle. Running into some of the same situations when I was a kid doesn’t help.
I have a hard time saying things, not knowing what to say or how to communicate, afraid I am going to be cast aside since I was a lot when I was a kid and the list goes on. I become overwhelmed at times. I have a hard time with the simplest things. So if I don’t talk much, say something that might come off a certain way or even talk to much about myself, it’s because of what I constantly feel/go through. I really do try to learn how to talk to people, to put myself out there and to just relax and to be me. I am writing and posting this in case others are going through it and to explain why I don’t talk much. Yes I don’t need to explain myself to people but at the same time, I want to express who I am. To say this is me and this is why. To let others know that I do like to have fun etc, I just have things I’m going through.