We’ve all been there before. The uneasy feeling you get when you step into a social setting. You become hot unexpectedly, a sweat starts from your brow, and you feel like you could puke at any moment.
Technology has partially attributed to the birth of social anxiety. Currently, we live in the dawn of an age, where sitting behind our screens creates an environment where we don’t have to be face to face for social occasions.
How Social Anxiety has affected me
For much of my life, I’ve suffered from social anxiety. The oldest memory that I can associate with it would be in primary school. Primary school introduced me to the idea of girls and dating. I wasn’t very social, and when girls approached me, I’d run away.
During high school and college, I came to a major crossroads. I needed to either overcome it or keep making up excuses. Occasionally there were times where I did overcome it, but more often than not, I ran away from it. Making excuses to leave class early so I wouldn’t have to participate in group projects became normal for me. I went as far as avoiding classes that I knew would force me into those situations.
After college, I believed that phase was over, because like every other person says, “it’ll go away eventually, don’t worry.” But I’ll tell you right now, it’s not that easy and it doesn’t just go away.
At work, meetings are a nightmare for me. I dread them, and I think sometimes my peers know that. From the moment I walk into the conference room, I have to calm myself down and act like someone that I’m not. Someone who is a social butterfly and participates well in a group setting. It’s extremely hard for me to do.
I perceive social anxiety not only being the feeling that one would experience when they’re in a social setting, but also the feeling of watching people in that setting socialize. You can start to analyze their every movement and their speech patterns to the point where it makes you cringe. “Turning off” your ears becomes the only obvious thing that you can do, but people start to notice you.
Above all, I think, social anxiety could be related to a place of belonging. I’ve never felt like I belonged in various social settings, with work being the most obvious one.
Where do you go from here
So how do I combat my social anxiety? By a very slow process of putting myself in uncomfortable situations. Sounds counterproductive right? But it’s the only way to ease my nerves about it. By volunteering to be social rather than be forced to, I’ve made significant progress in moving past the social anxiety that I’ve experienced much of my life.
Basically, in some cases, social anxiety can become a lot my manageable if you want it to be. In the process, you discover a confidence that you never knew you could have, and find people who understand how you feel.
If I’m to give any advice, it would be patience and trust. Be patient with others who have social anxiety and trust that others aren’t out to embarrass you. Although siblings and family will always do just that.