Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is something I’ve had even before I struggled with Anxiety Disorder. I was always the quiet kid, not because I didn’t have anything to say but because I worried I’d say something wrong or that what I had to say didn’t matter. There were certain people throughout my life who could ease that anxiety, but in most cases, I tended to clam up. It’s something that has improved over the years, but it’s still a struggle.

One of the most frustrating aspects of my social anxiety is being in a situation where I seemingly don’t know what to say, even with close friends or family. Someone will come out with some bad news, or even just make a benign comment and I will know how to respond, but my brain seemingly freezes up and won’t let me say anything meaningful. I get caught in a moment of indecision, and I panic. Will I say the wrong thing? Will they take it the wrong way? Then I spend so much time trying to calm myself down enough to speak more than a word or two that I begin to worry that if I speak now it’ll just make things even more awkward, so I’m better off just not saying anything.

I think a lot of my social anxiety boils down to the fear of making the wrong choice of what to say. It’s not as clear cut as choosing between something socially acceptable and something rude, it’s more like not being able to decide how to phrase the socially acceptable thing. It’s like going to the store for some socks and easily finding your way to the sock section, but when you get there you don’t know which ones to get. There are so many options, where do you even begin?

This even extends to texting, though not as profoundly. I can be a fast texter, but sometimes, when my brain decides it’s important, I will obsess over the wording of a text to a truly nonsensical degree. Meanwhile, I’m starting to panic and imagine the person on the other end is seeing that speech bubble pop-up next to my name and wondering “what’s this guy doing? I only asked him if he saw the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery.” Then I remember nobody actually gives a shit how long it takes for me to type out a message, and they’re probably not even paying attention to that. Eventually I do hit send, though very rarely I will get overwhelmed and not respond. (If you know me and I’ve ever just not responded to you this is why. Sorry about that.)

This won’t be the last time I write about social anxiety. I have a lot more I want to say but I don’t want to give you, my wonderful readers, another long post right after that last one. In the meantime, share some of your socially anxiety success stories in the comments.

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