Wake up. Presentation in three weeks, four days time – butterflies. Eat. Get dressed. Going to the beach with friends on Saturday – butterflies. Walk to the bus stop. Family reunion in 1 week, 2 days time – butterflies. Bus Arrives. Don’t make eye contact. Sit down. Spend the next 30 minutes filing through each social interaction yesterday – butterflies.
Social anxiety is loneliness. Duh. You are so preoccupied with saying the right thing that you don’t say anything at all. Or maybe this time it’s not that you are preoccupied with saying the right things, it’s just that your mind is so blank that it can’t think of anything to say at all. Then you are conscious of the fact that it’s been 47 minutes and you haven’t said a word in the group conversation so you jump in at any moment you can which is usually worse than not saying anything at all.
You are typically described as quiet. Maybe even chilled because of the nonchalant, I-don’t-care-what-anyone-thinks demeanor you have. Permanently etched in your face is a mildly unimpressed default expression with a dash of wryness as if you’re amused by the trivialness of it all.
It takes a longer than average amount of time to become friends with someone. Those someone’s are usually extroverted, outgoing people because someone has to fill the silence when you aren’t talking – which is almost always. You admire their confidence; their raw, openness is borderline inspirational. You fantasize.
You avoid situations which holds you back from awesome opportunities. Networking event for work, party with friends, taking on a volunteer opportunity with a cause that you are passionate about. Avoidance is easier because you don’t have to deal with it at all. Then you have to deal with the guilt when your best friend is upset you couldn’t go to her gathering full of people that you don’t know well enough to have a coherent conversation without awkward pauses that you’ll mull over when you are trying to fall asleep in a month’s time.
You know it is all completely irrational. Every other person on the earth seems to get by and really, how much different are they from you? You are an intelligent person. Why can’t you work it out just like everyone else?
Anxiety takes over every aspect of your life. It is constantly, consistently there. Always hanging around, reminding you of your insecurities and faults.