I have Social Anxiety Disorder. I have been suffering from this issue for as long as I can remember. It’s like a grim reaper is stalking me—no one can see it except me. Everywhere I turn, I feel this eerie presence looking over my shoulder. When I’m most vulnerable is when it creeps in like an uninvited guest. Looking back at my life, I have realized that my anxiety is more than being shy.
My experience with social anxiety has been quite a ride. It’s like I have been living in a movie—definitely not a follow-the-yellow-brick-road kind of experience, but more like a trip down the highway of hell.
It has entirely altered my life in ways I never would have expected. It makes you feel and think about things you never would otherwise. Overthinking becomes second nature, and you can’t seem to find a way to make it stop. You always think people are watching you under a microscope and waiting until you break into a million pieces.
Waking up to the thought of having to interact socially makes you want to bury yourself down a rabbit hole. Having to look at yourself in the mirror and secretly whisper a prayer just to make it through the day takes the crown.
Group settings are overwhelming. It makes you uncomfortable introducing yourself to strangers and having to initiate conversation. It gives people an open window to potentially judge you. Will they think my voice sounds weird? Will they criticize my outfit? My hair? My face? My entire existence? That’s when you know you should have just stayed home.
The fear of being rejected and ridiculed causes you to miss out on countless opportunities. The dread of having to turn down get-togethers, career opportunities, potential friendships, and romantic relationships, because social anxiety is a crippling feeling.
The worst of it all is when you start to distance yourself from the people who care about you. You don’t reach out because you don’t want to seem like a burden and bog them down with your problems. They start to think you don’t like them or care enough to have them in your life, which is entirely not true.
Social anxiety is caused by having an irrational fear of being judged, rejected, or humiliated in a social setting. It usually stems from a traumatic experience from the past. My experience with social anxiety has gotten better as I have grown older. Still, I wanted to share my personal experience with others who may have social anxiety. Social anxiety shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of, and there are people and resources available for those who are struggling.