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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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Anxiety Medications Aren't As Scary As You Might Think

It took me about 2 months to even find the right medication and dosage. It's truly a process.

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Before my journey with anxiety, I was very anti-medication. I truly didn't understand the purpose or need for it. Boy, have I learned a lot since then. Upon visiting the doctor, I learned that there are two types of medication that do two different things to the neurotransmitters in your brain. These are categorized as SSRI or SNRI. According to anxiety.org, "SSRIs increase serotonin in the brain. Neural systems affected by increased serotonin regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and digestion."

The medication that I am currently taking falls under the category of SSRI. As a result of taking this medication, "your brain is more capable of making changes that will lead to a decrease in anxiety" (anxiety.org). I don't know if that sounds nice to you, but I loved the sound of it.

On the other hand, per mayoclinic.org, SNRIs "ease depression by impacting chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) used to communicate between brain cells. Like most antidepressants, SNRIs work by ultimately effecting changes in brain chemistry and communication in brain nerve cell circuitry known to regulate mood, to help relieve depression."

From my understanding, the different types of medication focus on different neurotransmitters in your brain. I don't think that one of these is "bad" and one of these is "good." This is simply because anxiety and depression are very personal and impact people differently. My anxiety is not the same as my friend's anxiety. I think it's more of a spectrum.

There are a lot of misconceptions upon starting medication. I think the first is that it works instantly. I have some bad news and it's that some medications take up to a month to get into your system. I mean, you're chemically altering your brain, so it makes sense. It took me about 2 months to even find the right medication and dosage. It's truly a process.

Another misconception is that the pills are addicting- making them completely unnecessary or dangerous. That wasn't true for me. One of my dear friends told me that if you don't feel guilty for taking cold medicine when you have a cold, then you shouldn't feel guilty for taking medication that helps your anxiety. I think this really does boil down to knowing yourself and if there's a history of addiction in your family. However, as someone who's taken the heavy pain killers (via surgery) and now takes anxiety medication, I can testify to say that there's a difference.

The pain killers made me a zombie. The anxiety medication allows me to be the best version of myself. I like who I am when I'm not constantly worried about EVERYTHING. I used to not leave the house without makeup on because I constantly worried what people thought of me. I used to be terrified that my friends didn't want me around. I used to overthink every single decision that I made. Now, none of that is happening. I enjoy my friends and their company, I hardly wear makeup, and I'm getting better at making decisions.

Do I want to be able to thrive without having to correct my neurotransmitters? Sure. However, this is the way that I am, and I wouldn't have gotten better without both therapy and medication. I'm forever grateful for both.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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