1. Ordering at restaurants.You’d much rather order food to your house. Even drive thru’s are daunting. Thank God for Uber Eats, especially for the delivery people who will just leave the food on the porch.
2. Being in the moment. You’re always in the past, overanalyzing everything you’ve said or done that may have been weird or awkward. Social anxiety keeps you up at night, replaying the movie of your mistakes over and over. And if you’re not in the past, you’re in the future. Your mind is buzzing with all the things that could go wrong in any and every situation. You can never be fully present or in control.
3. Making phone calls. You pray it goes to voicemail so you can say your rehearsed script. But even that gives you anxiety. You hang up before the other person has time to answer. Great, now they think you prank called them or butt dialed them. Didn’t we invent text message for a reason?
4. Asking for anything.Asking for time off work, favors, advice, or just for someone to repeat something. You would never dare ask for a raise or a promotion, even if you earned it. Even asking for things you deserve, like space, boundaries, or money someone owes you, is daunting. You are convinced you are a bother. Or you’ll sound entitled. Or they’ll hate you. It’s better not to ask and suffer in private.
5. Going out, especially spontaneously. You need time to plan an outfit that people won’t make fun of or take notice of. You need time to plan an exit strategy to leave early. Talking to people for that long is just physically exhausting. Sitting there in the chaos, you can feel your heart beating and you wonder if everyone else can hear it, too.
6. Raising your hand in class or sharing an idea at work. What if everyone laughs? What if it’s terrible? What if you’re wrong? You can feel every pair of eyes on you when you speak. You say “um” too much and don’t make sense. Your social anxiety tells you that your ideas don’t matter.
7. Running errands. As if running around stores isn’t exhausting enough, now you have to worry about running into someone you know.
8. Dating. First of all, no one would ask you on a first date because of how unapproachable you are. Second of all, if you get a date, how do you act? What do you talk about? How much of yourself can you show? If you show too much, you might scare them off. Social anxiety prepares you for the goodbye. It convinces you that you’re better off keeping people at a distance that letting them get to know you.
9. Eating. Social anxiety makes it hard to eat in public. People will comment on what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, or just that fact that you are eating. You accept food offered to you, even if you don’t want it, because you’re afraid to be rude. You’d never ask to stop for food on a trip or outing, even if you haven’t eaten all day, because you’re afraid to speak up.
10. Eating on dates. Do you get salad, so they think you’re healthy? You can’t order a messy food or something you eat with your hands because they will think you’re a mess. Would it offend them to mention you’re vegetarian? You can feel the worry building up inside as you look at the menu for way too long.
11. Social media. Deciding on a picture that isn’t too bad, coming up with a caption, posting at the right time, getting enough likes. It is all too agonizing and exhausting.
12. Coming up with excuses.How many times can you say you’re not feeling well before people think you’re lying? Social anxiety physically can make you feel ill, so technically you aren’t even lying, but people won’t understand. You feel like they can see right through every excuse you give.
13. Saying no. You fear that if you say no, people will stop inviting you. And even though you don’t want to go, you want to be invited. You want to be thought of. You want to feel like people miss you when you aren’t there, even if your social anxiety tells you that no one misses you when you’re absent.
14. Friendships.You push people away. You ask, “Are you mad at me?” too much. You can’t help but wonder if people are friends with you because they genuinely like you or because they pity you. You don’t text your friends first because you don’t want to be annoying. If they don’t respond, it isn’t because they’re busy, it must be because you bothered them too much. Again.
15. Being known as “the shy one.” You would never correct someone who says you’re “just shy.” You would never speak up and tell them you have an actual condition. It’s called Social Anxiety. It keeps you up. It keeps you home. It keeps you from making connections with other people and moving forward. But it cannot keep you forever.
Having social anxiety can make life difficult, but small wins are on the horizon if you have the courage to combat the lies your anxiety tells you. You must battle it with truths that you are worthy of love and wanted at the party. Maybe one day, you get the chance to let go and enjoy yourself there. And that, my friends, will be a beautiful day.