This blog post aims to shine the light on hidden facts about social anxiety and hopefully make another person who is going through this feel better. It might also help people understand what social anxiety does to us.
The main feeling that I keep thinking about whenever I hear the words social anxiety, is shame. Below, I have listed a few of the many hidden truths of social anxiety.
1. People Are Judging You
Every time you go out, you feel that people are judging you. You hear this little annoying voice inside your head that is extremely difficult to turn off. You might even be with a group of friends and you would not have heard a single word that they said, because this voice keeps reminding you that you should talk more, that you wore the wrong outfit or that you are going to say the wrong thing. This is usually very loud at a beginning of an event, sometimes it goes away but it is always there waiting to butt in and ruin your mood.
2. Cancelling Plans
I think this is the most difficult one for people to understand, including people who have social anxiety. It is very easy for us to make plans, the problem is keeping them. We know that when we make plans, we feel that we will be ok. The thing is, we would have made these plans weeks and maybe even months before. During the week of the event, you start hearing your inner conflict. On the one hand, you feel that you can do it and on the other your mind starts coming up with every possible scenario that could go wrong.
On the day of the event, you cancel your plans and that is where shame takes over; and where you hate yourself for simple being you.
3. Drinking Away Your Anxiety
My younger self used to take a couple of drinks at a social event in order to feel at ease. This is absolutely normal, I cannot say that it is a healthy habit; however it is normal. It was easier to take a couple of drinks and loosen up to talk to people without thinking that they are judging me. Nowadays, I choose to simply take a drink because I enjoy it and not to cover up my weirdness. Please do not feel any shame for taking a drink to enjoy social events; however I encourage you to find healthier ways that can help you enjoy activities more.
4. You Dislike Yourself
Social anxiety makes you really “hate” yourself. You wish you were somebody else, a person who is lively and goes well in these events. Usually the first time you meet me, I tend to be weird, even though generally I am a weird person. Once I get comfortable in the situation that I will be in, I will be quite chatty and lively; however, till I get used to the person, I will seem distant.
During social events, I usually have my partner with me and I know I am different because whenever he leaves to go to the bathroom or simply goes to talk to somebody else, I feel a sense of panic, like all the walls are closing in on me and my eyes darting everywhere looking for a corner for me to wait near. I hate being like that, it sometimes makes me dislike myself, but this is me.
5. Joining In
From a very young age, I hated joining in on activities with other children. I still feel uncomfortable doing things, especially in front of people that I do not know. There are so many activities that I wish I did, but I never found the courage to go through with those plans. In fact I tend to teach myself rather than go to lessons. I feel that it is harder and this has made me lose many opportunities; however it also makes you feel proud for learning something on your own.
The most important thing is that you try, and if you do not succeed, try again another time!
6. Confronting It
I always feel exhausted prior to and especially after the event. Even if the event is going well, I would still end up getting tired and wanting to come home. During the event my brain would feel like a group of critics, constantly talking, judging every move, reminding me that I am weird; and at the same time I would have to look like I am enjoying it, and that I am perfectly fine. It is really tiring and it feels like you cannot be yourself, because then people will think you are strange; but at the same time it is even more tiring pretending that you really want to be there and that you can talk just as much as another person can.
This issue especially bothers me when I am surrounded by important people, you would want to make a good impression; but on most days you cannot so you simply look weird, have a voice in your head which never shuts up; and you constantly think that these people probably do not like you because you are so weird in social events.
7. It Is Not That Bad When You Get There
Most occasions drain you before you would have even arrived; however, most of the time, once you get settled in, the event will not be that bad. It is a horrible ordeal to go through such a mentally tiring situation, where your brain comes up with so many thoughts, and in reality none of these thoughts happen. After every successful event, I keep reminding myself that I managed to get through it, and hopefully find the courage to go through it again during a different event.
I really hope this was helpful, most especially to people who witness us being weird in social situations. This might help you understand what is actually going on when most of us look spaced out in a social event.
Feel free to comment below and share your experiences with me or email me if you would like it to be anonymous, I always find time to answer you all back!