For those that suffer from social anxiety, everyday life can feel like a neverending nightmare. The smallest tasks, from going grocery shopping to calling the doctor, can seem totally overwhelming and terrifying. In our technological world today where we do more and more behind computer screens, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that social anxiety is on the rise. However, living with the disorder everyday can seem utterly exhausting, when no relief is in sight. Social anxiety usually begins with one awkward encounter and escalates from there. People with social anxiety have an extreme fear of interacting with others in certain environments, and this can cause the sufferer to become reclusive and withdrawn.
5 Things Only People With Social Anxiety Will Understand
Many people unfortunately have no idea what people go through who have social anxiety, so hopefully this list will shed some light on the disorder. If you have social anxiety, you will likely relate to the following scenarios.
1. Being afraid to speak up in a room full of people.
People with social anxiety don’t like big crowds, but even speaking in a room full of 5 or more people can seem overwhelming. Basically, those with social anxiety don’t like attention being drawn to themselves, and they avoid it at all costs. However, in a classroom or work environment, staying to yourself isn’t always an option. If you have to give a presentation, for example, you know the feeling of dread you get from simply hearing the assignment. You begin to plot out the worst case scenario, even if you plan on starting the assignment weeks ahead of time.
Only people with social anxiety can understand the sheer terror, sweaty palms, and increasing heartbeat that come from speaking in public.
2. Going to parties(and not really wanting to).
For those with social anxiety, going to a social event isn’t exactly paradise. We have to plan out what we’ll say to people, what we’ll wear, how to keep the conversation going, how to politely say goodbye(even if it’s hours before the party ends), and even how to get there. We have to plan out every detail (or at least try) in order to feel somewhat okay about going. Not to mention, we have to figure out how to tune out those annoying anxious voices in our heads while we talk to people, so we at least seem interested.
It takes a lot of energy for those with social anxiety to go to a party, even a small one. Just showing up at all is a huge step in the minds of a socially anxious person.
3. Being misunderstood by pretty much everyone.
Socially anxious people didn’t choose to have a disorder. They might try to overcome it through various techniques, but it may not ever go away completely. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety disorder affects 6.8% of the U.S. population, or 15 million people. This 15 million people live in varying degrees of discomfort with social situations, and try their best to live normal lives. Not everyone can tell if someone feels socially anxious, but the sufferer can definitely feel it.
The social anxiety doesn’t just stop if we tell it to; it takes time and effort to learn how to overcome it, or at best, learn to live with it comfortably. Only those with social anxiety can understand the frustration that comes with people saying “just get over it,” because if we could, we certainly would.
4. Awkwardness in conversations.
Now, this doesn’t mean that people with social anxiety can’t carry on a conversation; it just means that they have a harder time doing so. People with social anxiety tend to be introverts, so they naturally want to keep to themselves more. Making conversation just doesn’t come easily for those with social anxiety, and the slightest slip-up in conversation can make them embarrassed.
Only those with social anxiety can understand the feelings of shame and inadequacy that come with awkward social interactions.
5. The terrible physical symptoms.
Many people don’t know that social anxiety comes with a slew of physical symptoms as well, and these just add to the discomfort of the disorder. People with social anxiety don’t like the spotlight being on them, so they desperately want to hide these physical symptoms to avoid any attention. People with social anxiety can suffer from blushing, excessive sweating, pounding heart, weak muscles, confusion, upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and even fainting, to name a few.
If you know someone with social anxiety, please show them love and support, and try to understand how they feel. You don’t have to have a disorder to empathize with others who suffer from it.
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