Because of my anxiety, I shut down in social situations. I do not have the energy (or the ability) to hold conversations for long. If I am not close friends with anybody nearby, then I am not going to talk much. I am not going to make jokes and ask questions and volunteer my life story. I am uncomfortable when surrounded by strangers.
Because of my anxiety, I listen more than I speak. I practice what is going to come out of my mouth before I say anything. I am careful with my words. I am sparing with my opinions. I remain in my comfort zone for as long as I can get away with it.
Because of my anxiety, everyone refers to me as the quiet girl. The shy one who never curses or drinks or has any fun. They look at me almost like a child, like someone naive and innocent.
They talk down to me without realizing they’re doing it. They make embarrassing comments like, “You don’t say much, do you?” Or they make sarcastic comments like, “Shut up. You’re talking soooo much.”
Because of my anxiety, everyone makes assumptions about my personality. They think they have me entirely figured out when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
If we are pretty much strangers, then no, I am probably not going to add to the conversation. But when I am around my friends, the people who I feel completely comfortable around, then I never shut up. I am the loudest one in the room. I have a million stories to tell. I have a million jokes to make.
I am not always the quiet, boring, bland girl that everyone sees when they glance at me. I can be the fun one too. I can make other people laugh. I can party. I can have fun. But I’m going to do it on my terms, alongside my favorite people.
When I am at home with my friends eating pizza and sipping from wine glasses, you would have no idea that I suffer from anxiety. You would create entirely different assumptions about me. You would not call me quiet at all. You would not even think to describe me that way.
Because of my anxiety, I behave completely different in different situations. The girl you see at work is not the same girl you see on Friday nights with her friends. The girl you see in class is not the same girl you see while riding in her car with the windows down. I am not one thing. I am more complex than that.
I am tired of near-strangers acting shocked when they hear me speak for the first time because I’m so quiet. I hate everyone referring to me as the shy girl. I hate being locked into that category because I have anxiety. It’s not fair. That is not who I am.
I have anxiety, yes, but I can be fun. I can be adventurous. I am not that different from you.