Anxiety makes you feel like an outsider. Even when you’re in a large swarm of people, you can feel lonely because you aren’t connecting with them the way everyone else seems to connect. You feel like you aren’t part of group conversations because you rarely contribute. You’re never able to find the perfect moment to jump in with your own opinion, so you stay quiet. And the longer you’re silent, the more awkward it feels trying to involve yourself.
Even when you’re group chatting online, you feel like you’re lurking more than you’re actually taking part in the conversation. You’re always listening, always paying attention, but it feels like there’s a separation between you and everyone else. You feel like no one would even notice if you were missing. You feel like no one would even care.
Your anxiety can make you feel like you’re invisible. It can make you feel unwanted. It can make you feel like it’s pointless to try to make friends because you don’t have anything exciting to offer.
It can take you a long time to open up to people, so you’re worried you seem boring at first. Like you have no personality. Like you have no opinion. Once people got to know you, once you felt comfortable around them, you know you would get along. You know you would have a blast. But the problem is, you can never reach that point. Your anxiety stops you from trying. It convinces you you’re better off alone. It convinces you to stay isolated in your own private bubble.
When you have anxiety, it’s hard to make friends, because you never want to be the one to reach out first. You’re nervous of looking stupid, of saying the wrong thing, of bothering someone who doesn’t want you around, so you rarely set plans or send the first text. You wait for the other person to do the work.
Some people might even assume you dislike them because they’re misreading you. They’re assuming your distance is an indication of how you feel about them, not an indication of your anxiety.
When you struggle in social situations, it can be hard to see how easily other people get along, seemingly without needing to try. There are times when you’ve watched someone you’ve known for years click with a complete stranger in an instant. They might even become better friends than you are, even though you’ve spent forever getting to know them, opening up, inching out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t make sense to you.
Unfortunately, anxiety can make you feel like an outsider. But you have to remind yourself what your anxiety is telling you isn’t always accurate. Sometimes it lies to you. Sometimes it plays tricks you. Sometimes it’s not a reflection of reality.
You might feel like no one wants you around, but that’s not the truth. More people care about you than you realize. You aren’t as alone as you’ve been telling yourself.