So this was what I commented on. It was completely out of character for me to share my opinion like I did but I am really happy that I decided to do it. Anyways, to some up my original comment, I basically said that this Tumblr post had hit a nerve for me. There is a lot that I agree with about it and that it is relatable, but I guess I just didn’t like how it come across when I first read it. I understand that like any mental illness, social anxiety affects every person differently and I completely respect that my experiences with social anxiety does not necessarily reflect what others have been through.
I could either start with the good or the bad about this post. I guess I’ll start with the good; it is relatable on so many levels. This post obviously cannot encompass every possible situation that social anxiety can make difficult for people, so using such a common and simple task such as throwing away an apple is a great example. It’s an everyday occurrence and it helps other people realize that even a simple task can be really difficult for someone with social anxiety. The idea of this post shows others that overthinking is a major issue when anxiety is involved.
I personally haven’t been in a meeting holding an apple core, but I have finished a test early and waited for someone else to hand theirs in before getting up and giving the teacher my test. I have almost always finished tests really early, well that was true until I started grade 11 😓 and yet I never hand my papers in directly after I finished writing. I absolutely hate getting up in class, it feels like I am drawing way too much attention to myself and I get all flustered and uncomfortable. It is even worse when I get up in a deadly silent classroom, half an hour early to hand in a test.
To avoid this unwanted situation, I’d proof read my test at least a dozen times, and once that gets old, I’d count ceiling tiles then the floor tiles, and then I’d eventually start to doodle. All while keeping an eye open for that first person to get up and save me from my boredom. Sometimes I’ll get ‘trigger happy’ and practically jump up from my seat and quickly give my test papers to my teacher. Other times, not so much. Like the Tumblr post said, I would usually wait about two or three minutes before I slowly get up and silently make my way to the teacher’s desk. But the thing is, during that short waiting period my mind is going a mile a minute. What if they knew I was waiting for them? What if I trip or fall by accident on my way? What if I hit a desk, make a loud noise and disrupt the whole class? What if I’m just annoying everyone? It’s thoughts like that that cause me to be so hesitant to do such a simple task. Then, by the time I finally get back to my desk I feel like I had accomplished the impossible. I feel really proud of myself, and mentally give myself a pat of the back.
So based on my experiences, that Tumblr post quite accurately illustrates what social anxiety is like in only a few words. But I guess I’m not crazy about this post because I’m not particularly fond of how it’s written. This is probably just me over analyzing the way the post is written, but it makes me feel like social anxiety isn’t that serious. Reading this post, I think that social anxiety is simply ridiculous, that people who do that type of thing are just over reacting to small potentially social situations. But then I remember that I have social anxiety and that I literally do all of those things and more. I’m definitely over thinking this, because it is a Tumblr post of 113 words, and it took me 217 words to just briefly describe my experience, in one specific event. So now that I’m taking that into consideration, I no longer think that this post is trying to belittle social anxiety.
Stop the Stigma
Since I’m already talking about social anxiety, I might as well put my two cents in and try to help reduce the amount of stigma that surrounds the disorder. I want to be able to at least help make people aware of the stigma and how it can actually make social anxiety even worse. I also want try to share how it has affected my life by naming off some of the ways it has prevented me from doing things.
The stigma of social anxiety is slowly beginning to lessen, but it is still there. Prior to actually writing this out, I decided to do a little research on the stigma, and to ask a couple people about their thoughts on social anxiety for some first hand information. All in all, I had a mixed response. Most of the stuff I found on the internet was trying to lessen the stigma, but still talked about what it was. As for the people I ask, some of them were really understanding about the disorder while some on them basically said that social anxiety is just people being overly shy.
You see, its people like them that actually make seeking help harder. You probably know this already, but social anxiety is the fear of being poorly evaluated by other to the point that it begins to interfere with your daily life. If you connect two and two together, you’ll hopefully notice that people who have social anxiety would probably be more susceptible to being negatively impacted by the stigma. The consequences of this is simple. Despite help and treatment being readily available, people with social anxiety won’t want to reach out and ask for help in fear of somehow being seen as less, or foolish or just others having a negative reaction to it all together.
I personally believe that the best way to eliminate this stigma and the consequences of it, is to become more knowledgeable and understand about the disorder and its effects, and for us to share our stories. I know, that last part is a lot easier said than done, but its the only way for other to get an idea of what it is like to live with social anxiety. For them to understand that it isn’t just being shy. It doesn’t even have to be said out loud, writing about it and then sharing it on a blogging platform is good enough. It is what I am doing, because there is now way that I am completely comfortable talking about my mental issues to others.
This is actually really hard for me to just blog about. I think I’ve rewritten these paragraphs at least a dozen times. I think this could be my first example of how social anxiety is affecting me. I was thrilled when I was given this opportunity to write about social anxiety, but at the same time I was almost petrified at the idea that I could offend someone by sharing my opinion. I am scared of offending people by my opinion on just about everything, from what I want to do all the way up to what I think on more controversial topics. I can more easily share my thoughts on the small things like what I would want to do, but there is this voice in the back of my mind saying that if that person doesn’t completely agree with me, I will start some kind of conflict and they will hate me for not agreeing with them. It only gets worse and worse as the topic I am required to state an opinion on becomes more and more subjective. So instead of stating my opinion, I will stay quiet and not say anything. I would much rather suffer in silence than risk conflict by stating an opinion.
I’m not entirely sure if this is caused by my social anxiety or if it’s cause by something else, or it could even be a combination of multiple things, but I apologize a lot. Too much. I know that I do it, and that it is an issue for various reasons, but I can’t stop myself. I feel like the second something doesn’t go as planned, it’s my fault. Most of the times it’s not even for the big things, its for the small and petty things like putting too much sauce on a pizza or slightly bumping in to someone or something (yes, I do apologize to inanimate objects). Even if I had nothing to do with the situation, if something goes wrong, my automatic thought is ‘It’s my fault, if I don’t say sorry for it, everyone will think I did it on purpose and somehow think less of me or start to hate me”. Sometimes when I am particularly upset and I am with a friend, I will apologize for everything and nothing, almost as if I were apologizing for existing and for being such pathetic excuse of a friend to them. For obvious reasons this little (big) habit of mine interferes in my daily life, and at times makes for want to apologize even more, for being such an annoyance. It’s a viscous cycle really.
This one is a bit more obvious, but my social anxiety has made me avoid most social situations. Growing up, I was always the kid who had her nose stuck in a book, the girl who didn’t talk much to other kids her age. I was the girl who didn’t have friends. I was lonely at times, but the thought of actually approaching someone new scared me more than having little to no friends. If I just kept to my books, I didn’t have to fear humiliating myself in front of others, I didn’t have to worry too much about what others thought of me because I had my books. Stories full of characters that kept me from becoming too lonely.
It wasn’t until about half way through grade nine that I made friends. Real friends. My new friends introduced me to their friends and dragged me to a few social events, I still didn’t get out much despite actually wanting to go do fun things and talk to new people. My anxiety kept me hidden away in my room/house except for when my friends would directly ask my mom if I could go to some event so I couldn’t lie and get out of it. It wasn’t until this year that I really began to venture out of my comfort zone and talk to my peers. Even then, I would only kinda talk to a couple kids who weren’t in my friend group. I don’t even text with my friends all that much, but I am comfortable around them and that all that matters.
I think the biggest accomplishment this year was going to a year end party. It required me to Quinn (a person who I didn’t really talk to all that much prior), go to his house and being in a social setting where there were people who I didn’t know. I had a great time and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t worry what people were thinking of me. Though that could be that I was completely wasted (I swear I only had a drink and a half). I continued to talk to Quinn, and now him and I are relatively close, which is something really big for me.
I guess what I’m trying to say s that for most of my life, I always wanted to belong to a group and to have friends, but something was holding me back. Up until recently I didn’t know why I couldn’t just chat up a stranger and easily make friends, and as I got older it really started to bother me. My social anxiety has kept me from making friends because I was afraid that they would one day wake up and realize how much they really hate me and how I’m nothing more than than I worthless, annoying burden. Even to this day, that is still a very real fear of mine. But my friends are constantly reassuring me that they keep me around because they want to, not because they feel obligated to do so.
I hope I didn’t bore you with such a long post… Especially with a couple of personal experiences. Writing this post is way out of my comfort zone, I’m scared out of my mind that I am going to offend some of you, that I am going to create some kind of conflict. I’m scared that I will be judged, criticized and made fun of for my thoughts, opinions and experiences. But, at the same time I recognize that this is an amazing chance for me to grow and face my anxiety. Believe it or not, just talking about everything has helped me come to terms with some of my issues. Even just posting something that contains a definite opinion is a huge step for me.