My Social Anxiety Led Me To Acceptance And A Better Outlook On Life

My Social Anxiety Led Me To Acceptance And A Better Outlook On Life

How could I understand something I didn't even know existed? All I knew, was that stress encompassed my life and I couldn't run away from it.

85
views

First and Foremost

I don't reveal this aspect about myself to a lot of people, and there's a reason behind why. I'd say that before this article goes live, only about 3 people know. And sometimes I think to myself, is social anxiety such a big thing that I even need to share it with anyone? And the answer to that my friends is yes.

What is Social Anxiety?

For a more academic and straightforward definition, you can read this article. But here is a simpler way of understanding it: Social anxiety is the stress of normal, everyday situations heightened to a point where it's too much to handle. So much so, that avoiding all social contact that other people consider "normal" -- like making small talk and eye contact -- make you so uncomfortable. All aspects of your life, not just the social, could start to fall apart. All socially anxious people have different reasons for dreading certain situations. But in general, it's an overwhelming fear of being judged by others in social situations, being embarrassed or humiliated -- and showing it by blushing or shaking, or accidentally offending someone.

Social Anxiety for me

The parts of social anxiety that I experience the most are dressing in ways that won't make me stand out, not being able to tolerate crowded places where people have the opportunity to judge me, and acting in such a pristine way around people I don't know so that there's no room for me to mess up a conversation or make it awkward. Ultimately, what I want to avoid, is being the center of attention. Social anxiety happens to me every single day. It's not something I can turn on or off. And I struggle to make it less obvious that it already is. Each day is a battle starting from when I leave my room until I'm back in my safe space.

Whenever I am put in uncomfortable situations, all I can think of is that I can't represent myself in a way that isn't mature or appropriate for my age. I'm always thinking a level ahead. My day is organized depending on what kind of environment I'll be in, how much social interaction I'll have to go through, and what kind of people I have to interact with. So much detail and thinking go into these normal, everyday activities, making me even more stressed. Because of this, I like to call myself an introverted chameleon who changes their personality, attitude, and actions based on the person I am interacting with. Why do I do this? Because my social anxiety triggers the mindset that I can't let anyone see my flaws or that I am somehow imperfect. It sounds silly writing that but that's how it feels. If I show my true self, I become an open book and fear that I will be judged and stand out when all I want to do is blend in and not be noticed. It's not because I'm ashamed of who I am, it's more so because I don't want to share myself with anyone else. I am my own person and if I don't keep that person to myself, I am becoming just like everyone else, no longer unique and part of the norm. More importantly, I become vulnerable to strangers.

When did it all start?

During Winter 2017 and throughout the Spring 2018 semester, I realized, experienced, handled, whatever way you want to say it…a lot of change. I learned things about myself, people, relationships, maturity, and life in general. I learned not to have the single story, to be accepting of people who have different personalities, beliefs, and cultures, but most importantly: to be aware of myself and who I am as a person. I was introduced to the world of social anxiety and became fully aware that I had it. I can honestly and confidently say that since knowing I have an actual disorder, I have a much better sense of self and of the world around me. But unfortunately, my life didn't reflect that at the time. I lost friendships because of how I changed and because of the decisions I made that were for my best interest.

The Juicy Part

During my time of self-discovery, I had a conversation with someone who I thought of as a friend. My experience with this person was harsh and cold and opened my eyes to people who may not accept you the way you are. I was changing as a person and realizing things about myself I didn't know before. It was new for me but extremely necessary. After revealing my newfound struggle with social anxiety to my friend, he did not understand my feelings and did not want to accept that everything I was saying was true. I expressed things about my personality for the first time to someone else truthfully, and this was their reply:

"I hate who you are now. Everything was cool, we were great until you went and did whatever you did with that person. Nothing was wrong with you, you were fine."

This is why I don't tell people. I don't want to scare people off or make them think that they're a burden to me. I just want to make people aware of it so that they can understand me better.

Thank u, next

The moral of this article is to enlighten you about the reality of social anxiety. Especially if it's something you don't have and know nothing about. And in a broader sense, I hope this helps you see that everyone is different. Every day we conform to our own views that have already been falsely shaped by the negatives and bias of today's society and media. But it's important that we realize what's real and to avoid always being right or wrong. It's about coming to terms with yourself and how you affect other people. It's about creating a space inside your own mind that lets you see more positives than negatives and how it's more important to be at peace rather than influence the disorder and destruction of judgment, harm, and conflict. This may have been an intense read. But for the people that stuck through it till the end, I hope you learned something new.

Popular Right Now

If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
510123
views

Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

12 Simple Ways To Ease Your Anxiety

These are some super simple ways to handle your stress at home.

256
views

Anxiety and stress are very common problems for many of us in today's society.

Over 70% of adults face some sort of anxiety or stress in their lives.

It can really be overwhelming and can seriously affect our mood for the rest of the day.

Pushing these feelings of anxiety and stress aside and letting them build up does nothing but cause more harm to our minds and bodies.

Sometimes, we just need a quick and easy way to help alleviate some of this stress to help us get through the day and to help us feel better.

Here are 12 ways to do just that:

1. Practice deep breathing

Mental stress and anxiety can cause your body to respond in physical ways. Since it affects your sympathetic nervous system, you might experience elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness. Breathing deeply and slowly can help slow your heart and ease your body back into a calm state. When I panic or feel overwhelmed, I breathe in slowly through my nose, think of one thing that makes me happy, slowly breathe out through my mouth, and repeat until I can feel my mind and body begin to calm.

2. Light a candle or start up your essential oil diffuser

My personal favorite scent to soothe my anxiety is lavender. However, you can also try chamomile, rose, orange, jasmine, sandalwood, or whatever else might help you.

3. Exercise

This is a big one, but can also be a very difficult one. Whenever you're feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed, it might be hard enough for you to get yourself out of bed, let alone do any serious exercising. My best advice is to be proactive and try to pay attention to when you first start feeling your anxiety creep up on you. Just go ahead and get up and go for a walk, run, or whatever form of exercise you prefer!

4. Read a book

For me, there's nothing like curling up with a good book to help calm my nerves. Whenever I am knowingly going into a situation that will make me anxious, such as traveling, I always make sure to bring a book to read whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. Reading helps me to temporarily escape my anxieties and can be a big help in giving myself some much needed time to calm down.

5. Do yoga and practice meditation

Yoga is such a helpful activity for those with anxiety and stress! It kind of is just a combination of many different anxiety-relieving techniques (exercise, deep breathing, and mindfulness). There are many different apps, books, classes, and websites you can use as a guide and help to do yoga. You can find what positions, locations, and situation are best for you. Doing yoga gives you a great opportunity to think about and reflect on your feelings and worries.

6. Spend time with loved ones (yes, even your furbabies)

Sometimes, all we need is a little love and reassurance in our lives to alleviate some of our anxieties. Spending time with your family, friends, and pets can help us to see and remember the good things we have in our lives. So many times, those of us with anxiety tend to seclude ourselves and that makes it easy to forget the good we have.

7. Drink more water

Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause feelings of anxiety. It can make you feel jittery and can be a cause for elevated heart rate. Drinking more water not only helps you physically (like hydrating your skin and body), but it can also do wonders for your mental health. When your body is unhealthy and unhappy, that can be a big factor in feelings of depression and anxiety.

8. Take a short nap

If you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, sometimes it can do some good to just take a short 30-minute nap. Just give yourself some time to rest your mind and body and face the issue with a new focus and fresh thoughts.

9. Journal

Even though writing down your feelings, bad or good, can be helpful, when you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try focusing on the positive! Write down a few things that made you happy today or a few things that you're grateful for. Don't let yourself be bogged down by the negative.

10. Clean

This might not work for everybody, but I know that sometimes when I'm feeling restless or anxious, cleaning and decluttering can help clear my mind. Basically, it's just good to find something to put your focus on when your anxious thoughts feel like too much. Try to pick a task and focus on that until you're finished. You'll likely find, in the end, that you feel much better than before you started.

11. Listen to happy and soothing music

Listening to music is a BIG help to some people with anxiety. However, you need to be mindful of what you're listening to. Don't put on the breakup playlist you made when you were 13. Find happy or soothing songs and make yourself a playlist of songs with themes of positivity.

12. Don't bottle up your feelings

This might just be the most important advice I can give you when it comes to handling your anxiety. The worst thing that you can do is to suppress your feelings and try to force yourself to forget about them. Hiding or bottling up your feelings might help temporarily, but that will just make you feel worse in the end. Talk to someone or try one of the other methods I mentioned to face your anxiety, but don't pretend like it doesn't exist.

Related Content

Facebook Comments