Social anxiety is something that I have struggled with for a long time. But, until recently, I didn't realize that is what it is. It's funny because I was so outgoing and said whatever was on my mind as a kid. You would have never guessed that I would act shy and reserved when around new people. When I am in a social situation where I am not 100% comfortable, whether that be a party or just a one-on-one lunch date, my social anxiety comes out of hiding.
I remember countless times in school where people would call me the "quiet girl" or make comments about how I don't talk much. They were right. I didn't talk much. But it wasn't just because I was shy or because I didn't want to talk. It was because I had a huge cloud of anxiety following me everywhere I went, especially in a school full of people I barely knew.
I have never really done any research on social anxiety, but this is how mine works:
It's not like I don't know how to act in a social situation. I know how to make conversation and smile, laugh, and nod at appropriate times. But, I get anxious in a new social climate and I no longer see myself clearly. When I think I am being nice, talkative, and funny, I'm actually kind of being a bitch and isolating myself. When I think I am smiling a lot and talking an appropriate amount, I am actually not saying much of anything and I have the worst case of resting bitch face in the universe. I have had countless people tell me they either thought I hated them when I met them in person or that they thought I was really bitchy. I will never forget when I met up with a friend that I had gotten to know really well over texts and snapchats, but I hadn't seen him much in person. We decided to grab dinner together, and I remember thinking how amazing I was doing. I was talking and laughing and smiling like a normal human! Come to find out, it was really awkward and I wasn't saying much or doing much of anything at all (according to said friend). Because I am not perceiving my actions very clearly, it is hard to change them into something more pleasant to be around.
Another symptom of my anxiety, if I am feeling particularly uncomfortable, is that my mind goes completely blank. Conversations that I would normally be interested in putting my two cents in become completely foreign to me. I literally can't come up with intelligent things to say. This particular symptom typically happens when I am in a group of people that I don't know, whereas the other symptom happens more in a one-on-one situation.
It is really disheartening that my social anxiety has ruined so many opportunities for me and will probably continue to do so in the future (I have come along way and hope to continue moving forward). I am always so grateful to people who are willing to get to know me despite my anxiety. Once I have met someone a few times my anxiety melts away and I am completely normal. It sucks when someone doesn't even give me the benefit of the doubt and get to know me a little more. But, then again, I get it. If I really do act the way people say I do, I might not want to hangout with me either!
I just wanted to write this post to let others struggling with social anxiety know that they are not alone, and to help my readers get to know me a little better. Thanks for reading! Please give this post a like, leave a comment, and subscribe! :)