My Experience With Social Anxiety
I’ve struggled with social anxiety for most of my life.
When I was in school people would say, “you’ll come out of your shell soon enough.” And I would hope they were right. Being naturally shy and quiet is tough when you’re put in these social situations. I’d sit there worrying about how I looked, what my voice sounded like, and whether or not I should make any eye contact.
I would frequently avoid any situations to socialise, even if that meant pretending that I was too ill to attend. It was difficult knowing that I was missing out on so many opportunities but at least I could feel safe in my own bubble. I could breathe.
For me, it hasn’t got any easier through the years.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has set me back a million miles because I’ve grown too accustomed to my own company. I haven’t had to experience the anxiety that comes with attending any social event, so naturally, I’ve become too comfortable. Now the idea of making plans, seeing friends, and being in groups of more than 2 people is very overwhelming.
When I’m socialising or within a group of people I find my mind wandering all the time. I ask myself the cruel questions that I would never ask anyone else.
Am I too boring? Am I uninteresting? Do other people hate the sound of my voice?
I find myself wanting to be completely silent because maybe it’s better to not be noticed at all than to be perceived the wrong way.
I suppose my social anxiety stems from 2 things: the concept that I’m not good enough and the fear of embarrassment. They always go hand in hand, threatening to consume my life.
Some days, I think of little else but the thought that nobody really enjoys my company. Not even me.
How I’m Coping With Social Anxiety
Social anxiety isn’t easy to live with but I am finding some ways to manage it.
Recently, I’ve taken a long, hard look at myself to figure out what fuels my anxiety. Most of the time, it’s caused by my own insecurities. And that’s something that I need to work on. What I discovered was that if I was truly comfortable with who I am, then I wouldn’t seek so much validation from others.
Deep down, I know that I deserve love, friendship and acceptance just as much as anyone else. While I’ve been treated poorly in the past by people who were meant to love and protect me, I can’t let that control my thoughts and actions forever. If I want to move forward in life then I need to toss those fears to one side and embrace love and kindness for a change.
So I’m making a conscious effort to undo the negative image of myself that I’ve built inside my mind. The one that depicts me as unloveable, boring, and unintelligent.
Instead I need to put forward some positive aspects about myself.
If I didn’t know me, how would I describe myself? Creative, thoughtful and kind. Now that’s the kind of representation that I want. As long as I truly believe these things about myself, then the opinions of others will weigh on mind a lot less.
It will get easier with time. I know it.