Social Anxiety Is . . .

Social anxiety is not just being shy; social anxiety is not just being awkward. Shy people will still go to that party; they will still go out and try to have fun. Social anxiety is isolating yourself even though you want to go out and “have fun.”

Social anxiety is a perception that the world won’t like you, and therefore you don’t give the world the chance to get to know you.

Social anxiety is lurking on Facebook and seeing what everyone else is doing and feeling left out.

Social anxiety is hiding in your classroom while other teachers go out to lunch and feeling rejected and unloved because they didn’t invite you.

Social anxiety is traveling an hour into the city to a new bar with your significant other to see a World Cup soccer match and having a panic attack at the door because there are too many people there.

Social anxiety is not being able to just go up and talk to people because you always appear awkward.

Social anxiety is an ability to connect with people on a professional level but an inability to transcend that to a personal level.

Social anxiety is isolating yourself because a fear of rejection and a fear of criticism.

Social anxiety is preferring for people to think you are cold rather than having them find you unlikable.

Social anxiety is feeling more comfortable with 7-year-olds than with adults.

Social anxiety is preferring to feel ignored rather than rejected.

Social anxiety is being considered the cold, bitch-wife by your significant other’s friends because you have zero social skills.

Social anxiety is not going to new places (bars, restaurants, sporting events) because you don’t know how to act there.

Social anxiety is staying in your dorm room during meals instead of braving the dining hall.

And you, fellow Persephoneers, what is social anxiety to you?

By Mona Se Queda

I teach bilingual special education and I like guinea pigs.

37 replies on “Social Anxiety Is . . .”

Social anxiety is not speaking a single word to your dorm roommate freshman year of college.

Social anxiety is going 5 years without a haircut because just the thought of being captive with a stranger asking me questions about my life is enough to make me puke.

Social Anxiety is over doing it with the “social lubricant” at a party just to forget where I am and to relax. Thinking it is working, losing track of how much alcohol I’ve drank. Blacking out and being severely embarrassed the next day but not certain why. I avoid parties as much as I can.

Social Anxiety is having an anxiety attack and being near tears because the elevator is full and panicking that I won’t be able to get off when the doors open on my floor because there are so many people and I can’t talk to them and they are crowding me and why does that person keep bumping into me? Whoo. I’m already freaking out.

Social Anxiety is quitting University for all the reasons people described (wow I had no idea I wasn’t the only one).

Social Anxiety is feeling terrified when having to meet new people to the point of avoiding any circumstance that would require me to do so.

Social Anxiety is being a hermit with very few friends. And even, sometimes, shutting out friends and family because the interaction feels to overwhelming.

-Social Anxiety is having to give yourself a pep talk when you walk into a salon for a haircut because the casual small talk with the hairdresser stresses you out beyond belief. And changing your hair salon even after a good cut because you get stressed and anxious that you probably said something stupid and they might remember you.

-Social Anxiety is letting spa gift certificates expire because you are too worried you will mess up the ‘spa etiquette’ to go get a facial or massage on your own.

-Social anxiety is feeling fine walking into a room of strangers you need to work with even if you don’t know them because the roles are defined and you can boss someone around with no problem if you know where you stand, but having palpitations when you have to go to a party, even with people you know, and have to make small talk.

Of course the flip side is that I also LIKE to go to movies and restaurants and shopping alone and don’t mind if people think I’m weird for that. But how much did my wanting to do things alone come from longstanding anxiety about doing things any other way? Chicken and the egg, I guess.

Social anxiety is missing out on a lot of the things that makes High school High school.For instance:
-Never going to dances
-Never attempting to make new friends since I was sure everyone new was already great friends with everyone else since middle school and I was left out.
-Never wearing make-up b/c for some reason I thought you couldn’t just show up to school one day w/ make-up otherwise everyone would think you are trying to hard.
-Never trying out for any sports or joining clubs
-Never making eye contact w/ people in the hall b/c no one knows who I am anyway why would they want to talk to me.

I’ve gotten much better post-high school and post-college for two reasons:
1. Once I hit 21 bar culture = the only social scene in my area. So being a single gal I was forced to walk into many a bar alone to meet up w/ friends or sit at home alone forever doing nothing.
2. My Dad’s social anxiety/depression got much worse once he was laid off. I saw how detrimental it could be to all areas of his life so I am constantly pushing myself into social situations I would have avoided in the past.

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