Before I get started with the actual post, I thought I’d share a humorous poetry video because this guy really hits the nail on the head of what it is like living with social anxiety.
I’ve never been formally diagnosed (if you actually can be, that is) of having social anxiety disorder. A couple of years ago, I realized that the way I felt about certain social situations and people was not normal, so I searched on the internet and found something called Social Anxiety Disorder. This seemed to be what I had, though mine is perhaps a bit different from the norm. So, I’m just going to list off some common triggers–that I pulled from this website: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder-and-social-phobia.htm–and then explain how mine are either the same or different.
1. Meeting New People: So actually, in most situations, I don’t mind meeting new people. When I go to work for the first time or when I enter a new class, I don’t mind meeting new people and meeting them doesn’t make me nervous. Meeting new people at church, on the other hand, causes me great anxiety. Meeting new people that someone else is introducing to me also makes me anxious.
2. Being the Center of Attention: Well, this one is completely true of me. I HATE being the center of attention. On my birthday, if I go to a restaurant, I make sure to tell everyone in the party that they are not to tell any of the servers that it’s my birthday. I also don’t want my family/friends singing to me in the restaurant, either. I don’t want attention brought to me while they sing to me, and if perhaps I forgot to tell someone I didn’t want to be sung to, or, at their pleading, reluctantly agree to be sung to, I will be nervous for the entire time until they sing to me. So, in short, it will ruin my night. Also, I don’t like attention being brought to me in positive ways. If someone praises me publicly, my heart will start beating fast, my armpits will start sweating, and my face will redden considerably.
3. Being Watched While Doing Something: Yeah, don’t watch me do something if you want me to do it well. I’m really great with kids and the elderly and even just people who want to talk. We get along well and we feel comfortable around each other. However, if someone is watching me while I play with kids or while I talk to people, I will not be able to be completely comfortable. I can’t act like myself, and I act very awkwardly. Whoever is observing gets a false view of my true abilities. Stick a hidden camera in the room, and you’ll be able to see just how well I work with them. This is why I could never be a surgeon if I wanted to be. Nobody wants shaky hands opening them up.
4. Making Small Talk: Now this is something that as both an introvert and someone with social anxiety I am opposite of most people. I actually don’t mind small talk. Whenever I’m working with new people or whenever I’m in a group for some class, I really love small talk. It can lead to some great conversations. I’m quite good at it, also. That being said, if I’m with people I’ve either known for a while or I’ve hung around a few times (and we’re not friends), you probably won’t find me talking too much. Just from some painfully awkward experiences, I learned that small talk doesn’t work for me in these situations, and if I do try small talk, I usually walk away feeling stupid.
5. Public Speaking: They always say practice makes perfect when it comes to public speaking, but in my case, I know that will never be true. Public speaking gives me an immense amount of anxiety. My palms will sweat, my armpits will sweat, sometimes my face will sweat, I will feel nauseated, my heart will be beating a hundred miles an hour, I will talk really fast, and I will forget everything I was going to say,
6. Performing on Stage: Although I get really nervous, like most people, I enjoy performing on stage. It’s the perfect way for me to be the center of attention and interact with people without actually being or doing either of those things. Being creatively minded, this is also an outlet for stress, frustration, or sadness.
7. Being Teased or Criticized: Um…who doesn’t get anxious because of this?
8. Talking to Authority Figures: This doesn’t really bother me too much. I only have the normal amount of anxiety when talking to an authority figure.
9. Being Called on In Class: This is one of the biggest triggers for my anxiety. Whenever a professor asks for volunteers to answer a question, and I know the answer, my heart starts beating really fast and I’m hoping someone else will answer. If a professor calls on me to give an answer, even if I know the answer, I stumble over my words. I dread being called on and try to avoid it as much as possible. I’m so nervous if someone puts me on the spot in front of other people, so if they ask me what my name or age is, I will actually have to think about it. It’s happened before, and it made me feel incredibly stupid and embarrassed.
10. Going on a Date: Never really been on a formal/an official date before, so I can’t say if this would give me much anxiety or not. I imagine it would, though.
11. Making Phone Calls: Oh, the dreaded phone calls! The only people I don’t get nervous talking on the phone with are my mom and my dad. I’m even uncomfortable talking to my brothers and sisters on the phone! When I have to call someone, I think about it constantlym and I am very nervous all the time before I make the call. Whenever I actually call, I secretly hope that the person on the other end won’t pick up the call. I avoid phone calls like the plague. Want to get in contact with me? Texting is the best and most comfortable way for me.
12. Using Public Bathrooms: I’m fine with public bathrooms. They cause me no anxiety.
13. Taking Exams: Sure, I get nervous, but I’m pretty chill about school and exams, so I don’t let it bother me too much.
14. Eating or Drinking in Public: I’m not so bad at eating or drinking in public, but I am bad at eating or drinking in front of people with whom I’m not close. I’ll barely touch my food and be completely full if I’m eating with people who aren’t friends with me. I try to eat alone because I know that otherwise I won’t enjoy my food, which is a shame because I really like food.
15. Speaking up in a Meeting: Yeah, I can’t do this. Whenever I want to speak up, my heart beats really fast and I can literally feel the blood rushing up to my head, and it throbs mercilessly. The throbbing keeps getting worse and worse as I try to speak up, but, in the end, I don’t open my mouth.
16. Attending Parties or Other Social Gatherings: Yep, I hate these too, especially if it’s with people I don’t know very well. I avoid these often because I know that if I go, I will be miserable before, during, and after the party/gathering. I’ll be miserable before because I’ll be nervous about going. I’ll be miserable during because I’m not good at making conversation, and maybe I’m not interested in the same things the other people are. I’ll be miserable after because I will be beating myself up about what I said and thinking that I made a complete fool out of myself.
I just wish that one day I could wake up and not feel socially anxious. I wish that one day I could go to a church without being nervous. I wish one day I could make friends easily. I wish one day I could go to a social gathering and walk away without feeling like a total loser or without feeling like my heart is about to stop beating from exhaustion.
I bet some of you think that it’s kind of strange I’m going to work at Disney World a second time, what with all my social anxiety issues. Trust me. I think it’s strange too. 🙂