I'm An Extrovert With Social Anxiety

I'm An Extrovert With Social Anxiety

I'm the life of the party, but I hate being at the party.

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I am an extrovert. I am outgoing and have a big personality. I typically draw people in and love the attention this brings me. I am always seen as the one who knows how to have a good time.

I also have social anxiety. The thought of interacting with other people scares me. I enter a new social situation and start to panic. I am nervous even thinking about meeting new people or being in a large crowd.

You're probably wondering how these two personality traits coexist. How could someone love being the life of the party and also be terrified of meeting new people? It doesn't seem possible that I could be both an extrovert and socially anxious, but I am and so are a lot of people. These two traits contradict each other and create a never-ending battle in my mind which is completely exhausting.

When I wake up in the morning, I feel ready to take on the day. I get up, I get dressed and I head out the door, ready to get stuff done. Then I remember the interactions I am going to have with so many different people throughout the day. I think of all the people I am going to accidentally bump into and have to say sorry to. I think of all the acquaintances I am going to walk past and have to wave or say hi to. These are all things that stress me out, while at the same time I can't wait to get out there and have a great day.

When I get put in the situation of meeting new people, I have to make a conscious effort to be an extrovert before I am someone with social anxiety. I put all of my energy into making sure I meet them with a smile on my face and a lot of positivity. As terrified as I am of meeting them, you would never know it in our initial conversation. I exhaust myself because I refuse to let my anxiety win and prevent me from meeting new people.

Sometimes, I cancel plans because I don't want to socialize. Then I sit in my room feeling lonely because I am by myself with no one to draw my energy from. I wish I went out and just tried to have fun, but I know if I went out I would be wishing to be home in bed. I find myself most comfortable when I am at home with a close friend or two. I can be outgoing and goofy with them, without the fear of being judged. I can be an extrovert without letting social anxiety take over because I am not anxious around close friends.

I'll have a forty-five-minute conversation with someone with no problems at all. Then I'll sit at home for three hours analyzing everything I said trying to figure out what they thought. I think about every single word I said, every single facial expression they made, and everything in between. I convince myself the conversation was negative for them, but they felt bad for me and wouldn't end it. They were only talking to me out of pity.

These are just a few things that happen to me on a daily basis. I struggle to find a balance between being extroverted and being anxious. It's one of those funny contradictory things that doesn't make sense, yet still exists. I do my best to be outgoing and fun-loving in every situation, no matter the circumstances. This is something that isn't always easy but I refuse to let my anxiety stop me from living my best life.

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Sorry I'm A Size 00

But I'm not really sorry.
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My whole life I’ve been thin—which is kind of an understatement. Every time I go to the doctor I get the same “you’re underweight” lecture that I’ve heard every year since I was able to form memories. I’ve never really felt insecure about my weight, I love being able to eat everything and not gain a single pound. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve probably only gained 8 pounds and I’m now a sophomore in college. Of course, in school, there were rumors that I was anorexic or bulimic, but everyone who knew me knew that was far from the truth. I’m now 19, 5’2, and I still have yet to break 100 pounds on the scale. It seems that there is a lot of skinny shaming going around and to me, one of the main contributors to that is the Dove Real Beauty campaign.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this because skinny girls get all the praise and other body types are neglected. That’s really not true, though. While loving other body types, you are tearing down skinny girls. Why is it okay to do that to skinny girls but not to other body types? Why is it okay to say “only dogs like bones” or say “every body type is beautiful” until you see a model's abs, or ribs, or thigh gap and then tear them down because they’re “unnaturally” skinny?



The point I’m trying to make is that, as a naturally skinny girl, I have never shamed anyone for their body type, yet I go every day and get at least two comments about my weight. I’m always the skinny girl, the toothpick, but I’m not Jessica. Yeah, I’m a size 00. Get over it. If you have an issue with my body and feel like my body is disgusting to you, don’t look at it. I know that I’m healthy and I don’t need your input when my body just naturally burns calories fast. I don’t have an eating disorder and never have. I am real beauty though, and I know that because I’m comfortable in my own skin. So maybe the real issue is that we as a society have been shoving certain body types down our daughters’ throats so they begin to romanticize models that have certain standards that they have to meet, who work hard for the bodies that they have, and are making a hell of a lot more money than most of the people discussing why they look emaciated while what they’re actually looking at is the photoshopped product.

I’m not going to apologize for being skinny when that is just how my body is, I can’t help it. So please, stop tearing my body down while trying to bring your body up. You can praise your body without shaming skinny girls. Shaming me for being thin does not make you better than the man that shamed your body, just as me shaming you for being curvy does not make me better than the man that shamed my body. As women, we need to love each other because we are the only ones who truly understand each other.


Cover Image Credit: Victoria's Secret Untouched

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What It's Like To Have Social Anxiety

It's more than just being shy.

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Growing up, I always just thought I was a shy person. In elementary school, I realized I had a speech impediment or a stutter. I had my mom order for me at restaurants for a pretty good amount of time, I absolutely hated speaking in front of people, and I never really spoke in class unless I got called on. Even that, I dreaded.

As I got older, my stuttering got better. However, I began to notice it would get worse at times where I was nervous or anxious around people. For years, I didn't really think that much of it.

Until things weren't getting better.

Looking back, I can see that around the age of 16 is when my social anxiety really started to make a big impact on my life. It's natural for people to get a little bit of anxiety when doing presentations. But I would have full-blown anxiety attacks in my seat before I had to get up in front of my class.

I vividly remember in my English class junior year, being in the middle of speaking during an in-class debate and suddenly being so out of breath.

I started pausing every few words to try and take deep breaths, but I would look at my classmates and my heart began to race. I just kept thinking to myself, "I'm making a fool out of myself" and "I wonder if they can tell I'm shaking". That's what it was like for me every time I had to get up in front of people. I hated the feeling of being vulnerable.

Another incident happened in class where I was texting my mom that I was having an anxiety attack and couldn't breathe, all because I had to get up in front of my class a recite a short poem.

Soon, my social anxiety started affecting other aspects of my life, not just school. When I got my first job at 16, I was a hostess at a restaurant. On the way to my first day, I called my mom in my car crying because I didn't want to have to talk to strangers or answer the phone. I was afraid of messing up or sounding dumb and what other people would think. I didn't want to embarrass myself. 3 years later, I'm still at the same restaurant where I'm now a server and have never left this place because I've built up security there. I'm too afraid to get a new job because I would have to start all over.

Even to this day, I struggle immensely with social anxiety. Being a freshman in college is a major adjustment for me because I'm not used to doing things by myself. I mean, it was only this past summer that I went to a public place by myself for the first time. It's challenging because a lot of the time, doing everyday things make me incredibly anxious.

A lot of people don't understand the mental strength it takes for someone with social anxiety to go out by themselves. I can't speak for others, but I know that for me it's embarrassing to get so anxious about it. There have been multiple times this past semester that I haven't eaten because I've been too afraid to get food by myself, even at a vendor.

To help others understand, I always compare it to the feeling you get when you're walking up the stairs at your house in the dark. You feel like there's someone watching you even though you know there isn't. that's what it's like to go out in public. I know people aren't looking at me, but I feel like every single pair of eyes is on me. Watching my every move, saying things to themselves.

Even though every day is a struggle, I am making small steps towards being able to control it. But a big part of that is having people around me who know that I'm not just shy or antisocial. I want to go out and have fun. It just takes a little time.

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