1. You eat to fill the silence. When you’re at a party, you migrate to the snack table. When you have chips in your mouth, no one questions why you aren’t talking. They just assume you’re starving.
2. You prep beforehand. If you have to make a phone call or approach a store counter, you’ll rehearse what you have to say before you actually say it. You’ll repeat the words over and over in your head until you have them memorized. Until you’re ready to take on your role as ‘functional human being.’
3. You act like you’re busy. When you’re sitting in class or are riding on a bus, you either shove your face in a book or pop your headphones in. That way, no one will talk to you. That way, you can remain alone.
4. You tone down your emotions. Before you start a new job or go on a first date, you casually text your friends to mention how nervous you are. You try to make it seem like you’re an average person that’s slightly shaken with nerves. You don’t let anyone know how hard your heart is beating and how badly you’ve been shaking.
5. You rely on alcohol. You’re always anxious around other people — unless you have a few sips of beer. Then you actually feel relaxed for once. You know it’s unhealthy, but whenever you go to a party, you head straight for the cooler.
6. You lie through your teeth. Your anxiety can make everyday activities feel unbearable. That’s why you’re the queen of canceling plans. You tell your friends you’re sick. Or that you’re swamped with work. But you never let them know you’re staying inside because you can’t imagine stepping outside.
7. You hide your symptoms. If your hands are shaking, you’ll fidget with your jewelry. If your face gets red, you’ll comment on how hot the room is. You’ll make excuses for your physical symptoms so they don’t seem unusual.
8. You dress well. In the morning, you work hard to make your make-up and hair look cute. It’s a little easier to survive social situations when you feel attractive. You figure that, if you look good on the outside, it’ll be harder for everyone to see how much you’re struggling inside.
9. You consider every scenario. Before an interview, you’ll think about every single question you could possibly be asked. That way, when you answer them, it’ll seem like you’re calm and collected, but really, you spent hours stressing over the possibilities the night before.
10. You freak out before big events. You don’t get out of the car as soon as you reach your location. You take a few minutes to obsess over all of the things that could go wrong, and then you force yourself to stop hyperventilating and leave. And, when you enter the public eye, no one notices what your anxiety has done to you.