Social anxiety disorder is not just being “shy.” It can affect someone’s daily life. One can find difficulty in doing daily chores, going to school or work, attending events, talking on the phone, etc. Social anxiety affects everyone in different ways, as it is a complex feeling. What one person may find difficult may not be the same for another person with the disorder.

Having anxiety is more than being scared. A lot of times, you can feel lonely and want to do something, but your body becomes physically sick from going out and being around others. Social anxiety is an enervating fear, a type of brainwash that persuades you into thinking cruel things about yourself. It is picking up the phone and having to rehearse your responses before dialing someone. It can be feeling anxious speaking to your group members for a group project. You can study the menu before entering a restaurant with the fear that you will take up a lot of time deciding on what to order. Anxiety is the monster that keeps you up until 3 AM playing out scenarios that may never happen. 

A high wall built up

Social anxiety can create a fabricated story in your mind. Your brain will constantly analyze every action and every word said with others. It can push friends away. It will consume you in fear that you’re unlovable and that your friends probably hate you when they really don’t. 

You refuse to let others in knowing that they will eventually leave. This prepares you for every goodbye yet still leaves you feeling broken. You begin to distance yourself from everyone with the fear that you have revealed too much. You convince yourself that they won’t miss you when in reality you wish they would reach back out. 

Social anxiety isn’t being the “shy one”

Social anxiety is a draining feeling, as you mentally prepare yourself to have the confidence to step through the door to start meeting new people. You take the first glance around the room and your mind starts racing in thoughts. “Do I say hi to everyone?” “Should I just wave?” “Hopefully no one will notice me if I don’t make eye contact.” It is worrying that your friends will ditch you and leave you in a room full of strangers. Social anxiety prepares you with excuses to leave early. Other times, you don’t even make it to the event or party.

Social anxiety is sitting awkwardly in the corner or quietly sitting…listening to the group conversation. It is mustering up the courage to try to insert yourself into a group setting. Yet, there are moments when you actually want to engage in conversation with new people. However, you can’t find the right timing to cut in or you just awkwardly pretend you didn’t say anything cause no one heard you. It is silently having an anxiety attack that when you finally do speak, you see others look at their friends with a “he or she is so weird” look. The overthinking consumes your brain once again. The sights, music, and voices end up overwhelming your senses. You find yourself constantly checking the time and going to the bathroom to avoid awkward confrontation.

You are not weak or weird

If you are someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder, please remind yourself that you are worthy of companionship. People do miss you. If you have a hard time socializing, remember you can help someone else feel less alone. Someone in the same room as you could also be struggling, keeping up with a fake smile due to anxiety. When your mind starts to wonder why you can’t open up to others, just remind yourself to take it slowly. Social anxiety disorder is a common problem, and it affects others more than you realize.

I hope that through this article, I can reach out to those that are struggling with social anxiety. To give yourself a reminder that your self-destructive thoughts should be resolved into a journey towards self-love. Slowly, you can learn to combat the mistruths that haunt and brainwash your mind. 

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