Social anxiety is the dumbest forms of anxiety, at least in my opinion. I don’t really know when it started as it was a very slow progression that later I found myself completely engulfed in.
I was never really social to begin with, I liked sticking to small groups and one on one hangouts. I’ve never really been into partying or clubbing, I’ve always been introverted…but things changed as life threw me curveball after curveball, and as things got exceedingly difficult for me during a transitional period in my life, I coped by isolating myself. I began to ignore phone calls, texts and would cancel or decline invites to meet up. For a while I found suffering my hardships alone comforting and went onto label myself as “antisocial”, after all I wasn’t interested in being social.
Concerned friends and family members would call/message me to see if I was okay but I would keep my responses brief, cut the conversation short and wouldn’t hear back from them for another few more weeks and repeated the cycle over and over again. “Yup, I’m fine, good to hear from you too, look I gotta go, we’ll talk soon though k? Bye.”
The antisocial behaviour had rooted itself deeply within me and I didn’t mind it. However, unbeknownst to me this had also begun to develop a fear of socializing. I started to become anxious of even just the thought of having conversations with people or simply being around people. Life was just easier at home, I was safe there; safe from their judgments, opinions and boring conversations about Big Brother or whatever dumb show they were into at the time (ironically I’m a huge KWTK fan).
It wasn’t until recently that I was flooded with an extreme sense of guilt, that washed over me in waves. Some days I was able to surpress it but other days it’d come out of me like an explosive volcano. I was ignoring people who cared about me and had no interest in making new friends with people who wanted to get to know me, and that made me pretty rotten.
I played with the thought of coming out from my deep dark cave of solitude but was held back by an immense fear of “what if they hate me now?” along with other irrational budding fears:
“what if we make plans and they don’t show up?”
“what if I’m texting them too much?”
“what if they think I’m annoying?”
“what if I say something and they don’t think it’s funny?”
“what if they think I’m fat/ugly?”
“what if everyone has changed and I’m just an outsider now?”
…the list goes on and on.
The fear was real (and still is).
It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve been actively reaching out, reconnecting and making an effort to socialize, and it’s been indescribably nice but it’s also been an uphill battle. Before meeting up I panic, my mind gets flooded with irrational fears, I feel nauseated, I just want to go home, my heart races, I feel shaky…. and I feel this every single time I’m about to socialize, no matter the context; it could be as simple and dropping something off to having dinner with friends.
It takes a great amount of effort to push through these irrational fears, that by the way never come true, but in the end I almost always end up enjoying myself and laugh about how silly it was for me to be so anxious.
I don’t know if this social anxiety demon will ever leave me but what I do know is I won’t let it hold me back anymore.
Your socially anxious friend,