What Social Anxiety Feels Like
Now I’m making this for two reasons. The first one is to let people suffering with social anxiety and avoidant personality disorder know that you are not alone. I understand how hard it can be to just go through a normal day and how you watch so many opportunities just fly past you. And you know you’re not reaching your potential because deep down, you know you have so much to offer.
The second reason I’m making this is for those those of you who have friends who are struggling with social anxiety. It can help you be there for them even better.
One of the most isolating things we can hear as people who struggle with social anxiety is “Oh stop thinking so much. You’re worrying too much. Just work on your confidence.” But here’s the thing, confidence is just a tiny part of social anxiety. In fact I’ll even go so far as to say confidence is just a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself
Now, what does social anxiety feel like? Oh my goodness social anxiety feels like you’re having a nervous breakdown every single time you talk to almost anyone. It feels like 90% of your mental bandwidth is going into thinking…
Are you being weird? Are you being too fidgety? Are you saying the wrong things? What do you say next?What do you say next? Do I sound weird? Are they talking to me out of pity? Are you being rude right now? Do they know what you’re thinking?
10% of your bandwidth actually goes to what you’re saying which naturally means you’re fumbling over what to say and your mind is foggy and they start acting weird because you’re acting very weird and then it just cycles into this place of hell.
Social anxiety is being afraid to pick up the phone when someone calls. It’s being afraid to comment online. In some cases it’s even afraid to leave the house because it’s just too overwhelming to step outside and deal with the outside world.
Social anxiety is when you’re in school and the teacher says pick a partner and your heart just drops because you know no one’s going to pick you because you’re the weird kid. Then no one actually picks you and at the end you are the only one left and the teacher calls your name out and then everyone looks at you and you feel like… just let me disappear right now I don’t want to exist.
Social anxiety is when you leave the house and feel like everyone is just staring at you and judging you and it feels like you just can’t breathe. Social anxiety is being afraid to go into any social events and gathering and avoiding it altogether.
It’s when you make plans with your friends because you really want to see them and when it’s time to see them, you suddenly feel like you are drowning in anxiety just to leave the house and just thinking of being around your friends even though you care about them.
And then canceling last minute and just doing that again and again and again until your friends just stop hanging out with you.
Social anxiety is basically having all these awkward moments you’re experiencing plaguing you for months and years after it happens.
Basically, it feels like you’re a bystander in your own life.
Social Anxiety can be summed up into three main categories. The first one is having a lack of basic intuitive social skills. Now we are having trouble in doing things that most people to do normally. We seem to overthink, not sure how to act or what to say. And the panic really sets in when we realize nobody else is having the same issue.
Number two: Social Anxiety is feeling like you have no idea how people perceive you. You have no idea what are the elements that go into a conversation that helps form an impression of you. So as a result, because of his lack of control, you’re panicking and grasping every single point of the conversation, every single thing you observe and think… is this going to be relevant? Is this going to make them think I’m weird?
Lastly, as a result of the first two reason, you end up becoming hyper-aware of situations. So because we realize we lack some basic social skills also because we have no idea how people perceive us, we end up being hyper-aware of situations. We start noticing how often someone fidgets their finger, their tone of their voice, how many times they use our name. We notice every single thing because we’re just trying to get some control. This overwhelming amount of information is incredibly hard to process which sets us off into more panic.
Now you can see how social anxiety is a lot more than a lack of confidence. In fact, for most people struggling with social anxiety, we think we’re doing alright until we notice some things thats supposed to come easy to us don’t come easy to us and people end up treating us differently as a result. So we end up thinking “oh my goddess something isn’t right with me” and the confidence gets affected by that.
So it’s not that we have low confidence and therefore we have social anxiety, in a way, our social anxiety causes us to develop low confidence. Because we don’t know how to navigate through life like a normal person would.