Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hello Thoughts | What it's like for me to live with Social Anxiety

What is Social Anxiety?

"It's the fear of  interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance."

15 million people in the world deal with social anxiety on a daily basis, I happen to be one of them. If you were to interact with me on any given day, this is something that I would hide very well from you. I'd do my best to go with the flow, but on the inside, I'd be dying to go home. It's not that I don't like you, I just can't be around you. Please, don't take that personally. It's not you, it's me. Don't worry, it won't be like this forever. Once I get to know you, you won't be able to get me to stop talking.

Trust me, I'd love to be the girl that can walk into a room and strike up a conversation with anyone. But I am the girl who walks in behind her friends and lets them do all the talking. I ignore unexpected  phone calls because I'm not mentally prepared for the conversation.

 Before I get ready to go to a social gathering, rather it is dinner with my husband's friends or a birthday party, I overthink everything. "Who is going to be there? Have I met them before? What will they ask me? What if I say something dumb? What if they don't like what I'm wearing? What if they don't like me?" When I am out around people I don't know, my shyness is stronger than ever, my blood boils, and I can feel that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Ugh, it's the worst. I am so shy that most people assume I am a stuck up b****. When in reality, I'm so afraid of what they'll think of what I say or afraid of messing up, I choose to stay silent and remove myself from the situation altogether.

Here is a great example of how social anxiety affects my day to day life. Yesterday my husband sent me to grab Subway for dinner. Instead of going to the Subway 5 minutes from my house, I decided to drive to one that was 20 minutes away that has a drive-thru. Why? So I wouldn't have to go inside and interact with a stranger about what I wanted on my sandwich. Like I said, I overthink everything.

I bet you didn't expect the girl who typically holds the #1 spot at her job, which requires me to, ya know, talk on the phone to strangers all day, to have a socializing problem. The best thing about my job is I get to do what I love without dealing with customers face to face. It's almost like I have two different personalities when I am around people I know vs when I am around people I don't know. I've been at my job for almost 4 years. My co-workers are my family. I'll but into their conversations, make witty jokes, and state my opinion and not care if anyone agrees or not. But when a new person starts, I'm typically the last person to introduce myself.

I'm very lucky that my husband is the complete opposite of me. He does all the talking when we are out. Although he doesn't understand why I am the way I am, he doesn't pressure me or put me in situations he knows I won't be comfortable with. If you know someone who deals with social anxiety, I suggest you do the same. It will only make it worse if you force them to get out of their bubble. They need to step out of their comfort zone every now and then but it has to be on their terms, or else the party won't be fun for either of you. Trust me, they don't like feeling like a huge spotlight is on them every time they are out in public. So don't make it worse by expressing how annoying it is that they have to give themselves a pep talk before walking in anywhere, up to and including the grocery store. So just be patient with them and tell them how awesome they are!

Here are some great memes for anyone dealing with social anxiety!

Could this one be any more perfect, though? 

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Thanks for reading!