Today I come to you with a slightly different topic. I want to talk about my social anxiety and how it really affects my life because I know there are a lot of people out there who have social anxiety, are introverted and shy. I always find it comforting to know that I am not the only one feeling this way. Whenever I am in social surroundings, I feel like I am surrounded by confident people, who walk into the room and their energy is everywhere. They control the conversations and I really think those people are great and interesting, but I am NOT one of those people and I feel that a lot of the time I hold myself back from being the best I could be because I still have such intense social anxiety.
One of the reasons is that I am so worried that people get the wrong impression of me. I do not mean this in the vain way, where it is associated with this negative connotation, it is more of an “I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. I dont want anyone to get the wrong impression of me and my intentions.” I don’t have never been a confident person, but I was (mostly) comfortable with myself. But why do I forget that when it comes to social interactions? I know most of us have been raised with phones and computer, so there is a lot less face-to-face interactions. But is that really the reason, why me and many other people struggle with this?
I allow people to completely overrule me, completely outtalk me, but I try to say a sentence and I will be shut down and will respectfully listen to them. For me it is a sign of respect, when you don’t interrupt someone and I have this invisible barrier that forbids me from interrupting them, even though they do the same to me. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable, just because they’re making me feel uncomfortable. However, this whole ordeal doesn’t make me feel good after the conversation.
I hate the anxiousness that courses through my body whenever I am in a social or unknown situation. I clamp up, stop talking and just stand (or sit) there. My friends or acquaintances think that is my normal personality, that I am not interested in talking to them, or that I don’t have anything to say. In those moments however, I feel so trapped and suffocated, that I can’t think of anything but trying to breathe. It feels like my environment is sucking the air out of me. I am trapped and suffocated, like my body is some box, that I can’t break out of.
And I hate it. I hate the feeling, the pain, and the thoughts. These memories of the occurrences seem to be branded into my brain forever and I find myself thinking about it as soon as I am alone. This leads to me being even more anxious. I am scared that this will happen again and recently I realized that I started to avoid even spending time with my friends.
On some level I feel confident in myself. I was quite proud of my grades in school, I am confident in my ability to go running and I am pretty funny and sarcastic (when you really know me and I am comfortable with you). But how can all of these things leave my brain, when I try to hold a conversation with a stranger? Or a person more confident and “louder”?
But I also realized the past few month, that it is okay. It is okay to be quiet, to be a listener, a thinker and an introvert. Because how could it work, if all people were extrovert, loud and had a dominant personality? Just be you. Find people who are likeminded, who are interested in you and don’t mind if you need some time to get comfortable. People who don’t mind talking, but don’t undermine you by interrupting you when you are trying to get your point across. I believe in you!