My Social Anxiety

17 Oct 2015


I suffer from anxiety. My anxiety manifests itself in many aspects of my life, so it’s not a surprise that I would also have social anxiety on top of everything else. But though I’ve never managed to identify the root cause of my general anxiety, I can recognise the reasons why I have social anxiety.

During my late childhood and most of my teenage years I didn’t quite fit in. There were many occasions where both my peers and even total strangers would call me “weird”, “ugly”, “annoying”, and even much worse. I was made to feel inferior and ‘different’, and like I was someone whose company wasn’t worth having. From the age of sixteen I stopped being as negatively received, but as these experiences were so prevalent in my formative years, the beliefs that I had about myself as a result of how others had received me didn’t dissipate, and still haven’t.

I’m now in my mid-twenties (*has existential crisis*) and when I meet new people around 8 out of 10 times I convince myself that they automatically don’t like me. It isn’t even a worry that they may not like me, in my head it’s a 100% fact. I believe they find me “weird”, “ugly”, “annoying”. The vast majority of times I’m proven wrong, but that only confuses me and makes me not trust my own mind. And despite the fact I may be proved wrong in many cases my initial beliefs will have already left me withdrawn and cautious. Thinking that new people you meet do not like you leaves you with a huge lack of confidence which doesn’t just disappear when someone is nice to you. I still worry that people will learn not to like me. My reaction to this mind-set is usually to stay quiet and keep to myself and become what a lot of people would call ‘shy’. But it only adds to the vicious circle. Because I retreat within myself so much and speak very little due to my fears of how I'm being received, I then worry that people think I’m boring and not worth hanging around with. I know my personality is far from boring but I’m not confident enough to even begin to show it to many people. There are times when I am fully myself in social situations, but it’s not consistent (which I think confuses people). For example, I could be having a conversation with two people I’m confident around and if a third person who I haven’t reached that level of comfort with enters the conversation I will retreat again. And the fact that I’ve become quiet will make me feel even worse about myself and confirm to me that I’m socially inept in comparison to others or that I'm being boring and my confidence will dip again.  I do have some good friends who I feel fully comfortable with and don’t feel socially anxious around. There are also acquaintances and strangers I meet whom I also feel comfortable with and don’t have any issues of shyness or anxiety with. But I don’t know how to extend that feeling of ease to all people.

The reason that I’ve felt prompted to write this blog post now is that I feel that over the last year or so my social anxiety has been getting a lot worse. There are some reasons for this which I can identify. One is due to recently being out of action for a year due to illness; it left me with a knocked confidence and new apprehensions. Another is (more recently) being in a phase where I’m not confident with my physical appearance (something I struggle with on and off). Since people have outright called me ugly in my past, feeling it definitely does not make me exude confidence around others, as I think they’re thinking the same thing. In the last year I've also started tripping up on my words a lot. I had no clue why, until I read up on it and discovered it was a symptom of anxiety. This contributes to me not wanting to talk unless I’m fully comfortable and adds to my typical socially anxious trait of fear of embarrassment and saying the wrong thing.

It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I don’t have a voice any more. It's lonely and it's isolating and I want it to change. 

I’m sorry that this post is a mess. One of the aims of this blog is to help others, and I have posts lined up in the future that hold tips on how to manage general anxiety and panic attacks. But unfortunately social anxiety is something I don’t know how to overcome. Not yet. I wrote all this because I needed to get it out. But I also hope it might help people to stop and consider what could be going on behind the scenes of someone who appears to be quiet on the outside. And maybe there will also be people reading this that can relate to what I’m saying and find some value in it.



Amani x

7 comments

  1. I couldn't have put it in a better way! You speak my mind here, Amani. The thing that really annoys me is that people think that once someone is being nice to you, you're magically fixed and your anxiety is gone. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.. Keep going on, Amani, we're strong, we are. <3

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    1. Thank you Kasia <3 I'm glad you can relate! Not that I want you to be anxious, but you know what I mean :P It's good to find people who can understand x

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  2. I get this too but it has improved over time. I think a lot of it was to do with my youth. The worst things for me are forced people situations. I completely relate to you about someone you're not comfortable or familiar with joining a conversation. Especially the judgemental type who might say something that will embarrass or upset me. It has gotten better for me with age. I've been in a job for 3 years now and I finally feel comfortable around everyone. However, I still don't feel comfortable around my boyfriend's family. It's like there's some kind of barrier and sometimes I just can't talk. I don't feel good enough even though I know I should.

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    1. It's weird how our confidence can dip with certain people even when it really shouldn't. I'm glad to hear you're getting better though in general as time goes by :)

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  3. Naww big hugs Amani!!! <3 I struggle with anxiety around people too and I can at times almost unintentionally block people out because of it. I get kind of freaked at times by someone talking to me and kind of avoid eye contact or struggle to acknowledge them. #not trying to be an asshole just have social anxiety ;). It usually takes me a long time to be ok with someone and just like you with others I can have no issues around them. I'm socially awkward quiet a bit too between stumbling over words, mishearing people and well just not knowing how to act at times. It can make me feel quiet isolated and something that I've leant to be compassionate with myself over. I still have struggles with it but it definitely makes me value people who are understanding and supportive. The book I reviewed on my blog a while ago The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris is bloody brilliant for Anxiety though!!! Sending love, hugs and positive vibes your way Amani! xoxo <3

    http://rainbow-roseblossom.blogspot.co.nz/

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    1. PS: You are freakin' beautiful, gorgeous, magical and wonderful! <3 <3 <3

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    2. Wow I can relate to so much of that! Though I should definitely be more compassionate to myself. Thank you so much for your kind words and I'll look into that book! Hope you're doing good :) x

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