Sometimes, it’s hard to have a sense of humor about yourself. Especially when you’re using humor as a way to gloss over things in your life that stress you out or make you depressed. I’ve been unusually stressed lately, and so, here we are.
The support I’ve gotten from readers of this blog proves that no matter how insecure or out of place one feels, one is not alone in one’s awkward thoughts.
I’m going to use this post to get real with you, to describe what social anxiety feels like at its core, before all the jokes come in to make it more bearable, make you feel normal, if at all possible.
Social anxiety means looking back on your life and all you see is a string of embarrassing attempts at trying to be less lonely.
Social anxiety means saying a simple statement and then completely disengaging from the rest of the conversation because you’re worried that wasn’t the right thing to say.
Social anxiety means not acknowledging someone from your past whom you run into, because you either automatically assume they don’t remember you, or you’re worried that you won’t live up to their (nonexistent) expectations of you, or that they don’t want to talk to you. And then this person is hurt or offended by your actions, thinking you’re mean, that you’re a snob. When really, you’re just following your animal instincts: even dogs growl when they’re afraid.
It means constantly saying no to invitations because you’re afraid of what might happen. It means panicking about the invitations you accept and weighing the chances of getting out of it.
It means laying in your bed and wondering why you’re alone all the time. And it must mean that you’re a horrible, unworthy person and not at all that you never want to do anything.
It means entering any unfamiliar social situation automatically assuming you won’t connect with anyone there. It means longing for connection desperately but being completely jaded by the idea of it.
It means embarking on relationships with a relentless worry that you’re eventually going to be let down, hurt, abandoned. Even if all that person does is love you unconditionally.
It means being really exhausted and exhausting to those who love you. It means being acutely and unnecessarily critical of yourself. It means being afraid to live your life. It means being afraid to be yourself.
And, of course, it means feeling guilty about feeling this way, because relatively speaking, you’re an incredibly privileged person who has nothing but opportunities.
Beyond some of my own cathartic needs, I’m not sure what the purpose of this post is. I guess I’m saying that, if you’ve ever felt this way, I’m sorry. If you’ve ever felt like less of a human because of anxiety, I’m sorry. If you’ve felt alone, sad, and envious in a group of friends, I’m sorry. And to those who haven’t experienced this, try to understand that person who seems timid, insecure, unsure, or even quietly arrogant, rude, snobby. Don’t just listen to words, listen to their lack of eye contact, their crossed arms, their fidgeting. It’s a basic message, it’s an oft repeated message, but we need to be kind to one another.