Social anxiety is something a lot of people identify as having, but many people don’t take it seriously or acknowledge it. I have social anxiety, and have found time and time again people just don’t understand what I mean or acknowledge what I’m saying when I mention it. Well, if you ever questioned my social anxiety, here’s my explanation of my situation for you.

Social anxiety is a part of my anxiety, the part that deals with all of my many types of social interactions, from ordering food to talking to my friends. Social anxiety is my hindrance and general fear in social settings, what my parents referred to as "shy behavior" when I was younger. I have always struggled to talk to people, to look them in the face and maintain a conversation without a stutter and fidgeting, and so on.

But, that’s just one part of it. I struggle with so many things, especially speaking with strangers. I could barely order my own food at restaurants until I was 12 or 13 years old. An interaction with a stranger feels almost like a battle to me, because a million things run through my head: if I’m talking right, if I sound stupid, if they think I’m weird or crazy, if they will be mean or tease me, and more. I’m always heavily embarrassed of myself in any new interaction, so my first impressions usually suck.

I don’t just struggle with strangers, but with friends and family as well. I’m constantly running through the right sentences to make their impression of me improve, and I run through jokes usually 8 times before I say them to make sure they aren’t flawed.

My social anxiety also means getting anxious in unfamiliar places filled with strangers, being alone in most types of places, and going to crowded places. Through the years, I have adapted to most of these factors, but I always feel a level of discomfort and fear, and need to psych myself up most times.

Through my life, I have always tried to explain to the people in my life how I feel, and I have been brushed off and simply referred to as shy or timid, or have had my feelings denounced. Of course, being a 12 year old who couldn’t order her food when her 9 year old sister could, made my parents rather frustrated with me, but they just didn’t understand how I felt. I understand that social anxiety isn’t something that is “serious”, but it should still be acknowledged and helped, so kids don’t end up having more trouble functioning in many social situations.