The Struggles Of Having Social Anxiety In An Increasingly Social Society

The Struggles Of Having Social Anxiety In An Increasingly Social Society

There really aren't many perks to being a wallflower.

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Here's the thing about introversion: if you have it, you probably hate it, and if you don't have it, you can't possibly understand what it's like to have to deal with it on a daily basis. It's no joke - being an introvert can lessen the fun of day-to-day life because of the simple things other people can do that we can only hope for.

Extreme shyness can create extreme shortfalls.

When you have social anxiety, you may find that you spend a little more than enough time inside your own mind, and it can be difficult to be engaged in whatever activity you've found yourself participating in. If a professor so much as whispers the words "ice breaker," I oftentimes feel my heartbeat speed up, and before I know it, I'm overthinking the situation as I try to conjure up the right words to say when my name is called, and I end up zoning out on the class discussion that follows.

While many people who can't be referred to as shy are more than happy to take these social situations by the reins and really show off their character, the rest of us are left in the shadows wondering what in the world we have to do to be confident in ourselves like they are. Why does it get to be so natural for them when we struggle just to introduce ourselves to a class of strangers?

In today's world, there is no room to catch up.

Whether people realize it or not, those of us who struggle with anxiety in social situations really do want to be able to express ourselves as freely as extroverts do all the time, but it isn't nearly that simple. It's far too easy to overthink every social interaction you find yourself in, and you find yourself trying too hard to plan your next joke and losing the other person in the process.

You would think it's obvious that it would be smart to stop worrying so much about what others might not like about you, stop planning out your sentences, and just let the conversation progress naturally. Honestly, if it were as easy as simply knowing all of that and acting on it immediately, there would be no need for me to write any of this today. It is certainly a behavior that can be learned over time, but as one of many who have been slowly pushing for that progress in recent years, I can speak for plenty of other introverts when I say that it takes time to get there. Unfortunately, today's world is so communication-focused that one of the biggest struggles is finally conquering that one social feat with confidence, only to find that the bar has now been raised substantially higher.

Self-confidence is the only way to go!

At the end of the day, the only one who can truly go through with this process is you. Friends who understand your situation will always be there to support you, but unless you can understand that there is value in your own personality and that no one can ever take that from you, you will never be the confident person you could be otherwise.

I'm writing this primarily for my fellow introverts out there who need some encouragement, but all of this is just as necessary for me as well. Nobody is perfect, and we all have something we can improve on in any situation, not excluding social ones.

So go out there and start talking to some people! Take it slow and ease into it, but don't let yourself become so caught up in the possibility of things going wrong or becoming awkward. If all you want to do is sit within your own bubble to protect yourself from any possibility of an awkward conversation, you may miss out on meeting some amazing people who could change your life. And by slowly breaking out of your comfort zone and engaging them in a genuine discussion, you may just end up changing theirs too.

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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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13 Wise Revelations I Made After My Anxiety Diagnosis

Some good can come from it!

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Anxiety puts us in a position to view the world in a different way, and that can be a good thing if we allow it to be. Our eyes can be wide open and we can be so perceptive and empathetic. There's also an element of wisdom to it because of how self-aware we have to be.

I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was 15 and that helped me change my outlook on life and I'm thankful for that.

1. I have to put myself first.

I know I'm not alone in this battle, but no one's life depends on my happiness but mine. I have to be conscious of that. My success is reliant on me and my mood. No one has to care about how I'm feeling. Some people will and that's great, but for me, it's required.

2. I want to be needed, but I need to be wanted.

This might be more of a personal/ Libra thing, but a lot of it is driven by anxiety. It feels so good to be needed and it's nice because someone will always need someone for something. I'm constantly offering my help because I'm such a people pleaser. But there is a really fine line between being needed and being used, and it's difficult to see when it's been crossed. That's why I really need to be wanted more than I want to be needed. Part of dealing with anxiety is being able to be there for someone else, but not get taken advantage of.

3. Communication is key!

When we have anxiety, we have to be deeply honest with ourselves and the people we care about. Sometimes, it's brutal and not easy, but if we bottle everything up it eats away at us. Anxiety doesn't care, so we have to care about ourselves enough to be truthful and hope others will too.

4. Confrontation is a huge part of that!

Confrontation is part of communication and there's nothing I hate more than that. It's the brutal part of honesty that burns and sucks and it's arguably the most crucial. It's make or break with anxiety and it takes so much out of me to go the length it takes for me to deal with things in a healthy way.

I've always had this rule for myself that if something is important enough to me to work out to get past, then I'll be confrontational about it. But if I feel that I can let it go and just cut ties with whatever or whoever is bothering me, then I'd do that. I know that isn't the best way, so I'm working on it, but it was the only way I could get past things that ate away at me.

5. I can't please everyone.

We hear this all the time and for most people, they can accept it and move on, but anxiety adds this extra layer of disappointment to it that makes it harder. I'll risk my sanity or whatever else it takes so that I'm the only one who's left unpleased. I step around feelings until I get mad or upset enough to blow up, making it that much worse. And it all stems from this idea that someone has to get the shitty end of the deal — which is true.

So, we're left with this choice to either please whoever we can or let everyone down. I've picked the latter and I can see that sometimes it works just as well. It's this mentality where, "if you can't please everyone, why try to please anyone?"

6. Music doesn't solve everything, but it helps a lot.

Music is cool because you can listen to it and feel as though you're actually the one who's being heard. I could list for hours all the songs that make me feel something when there's a sense of nothingness taking over me. Hearing the stories of people whose lives are so different yet still so similar to mine leaves me in awe. The way it is all-encompassing yet so diverse is inspiring. Anxiety makes me feel like the world is so small sometimes, but music helps me see there is no end and everything is bigger than me and my issues.

7. I have to know so much about myself to be able to take care of me.

My body gives me cues when I've had enough. It tells me when to cancel plans or when something is a bad idea. It is so smart and every part of my body seems to work together against whatever in my mind causes this anxiety. I bite my lip when I'm tense, my legs and hands shake when I feel uneasy, more of my hair will come out in the shower. I know these are the moments when my body needs to regenerate. It isn't pretty and I hate it, but I am so thankful that I see it. I can tell when I need a face mask and a nap, or when I need to be active, or when I just need to cry.

8. Wanting to be alone can be a good or bad thing!

Too much alone time can mean anxiety is in the driver's seat and I have to take it back and go out into the world to recharge. But I also need the me time sometimes to figure things out and decide what I need. There's a happy medium and it can be hard to pinpoint, but it's there. I can't cancel all my plans and lose all excitement, but I can't overuse energy I don't have.

9. Coffee isn't what's keeping me awake.

I have no idea how many times I've tried to claim coffee is what's keeping me awake at night. It's a weird thing to be in denial about, but I constantly lie to myself about why I'm sleep deprived. I'll blame the coffee I had in the middle of the afternoon for why I haven't fallen asleep before 5 a.m. in days. I've had to come to terms with the fact that my inner thoughts are cutting into what I need. It's a greater problem that goes back to picking up on cues.

10. A long shower can have all the answers!

I'm not going to act like it's healthy to drown all problems in a long, hot shower. Medical attention is necessary when getting things sorted out, but when there isn't enough time for that and nothing else is working, my quick therapy is sometimes just leaving it all in the water. It's allowed me to only focus on the root of an issue and come out with a real solution. I have felt like no therapist is ever going to fully understand what I need.

11. Everyone isn't going to get it.

My first time in therapy I remember the counselor telling me that whenever I feel overwhelmed, I should flick the hair tie on my wrist. She noticed I always had one on me and it would be a quick fix to my anxiety. I have never felt more misunderstood than I did in that moment.

She was the "expert" and I was new to these problems I was having, so I trusted her. But I realized there is no "quick fix" to anxiety. I'm still not an expert almost five years later, but I haven't flicked a hair tie since a week after the therapist told me to and I don't think that's why the anxiety is still present. She just didn't understand what I needed after speaking with me once. I realized that week that not everyone is going to get it.

12. Some days anxiety will fully take me over, but I'll bounce back!

Depression is a close friend to anxiety and they have a grand plan to take over when they get together. I know what rock bottom looks like and what it feels like, but I've never been there for too long. It all comes back together and I've lived to tell about it, which I'm immensely proud of.

13. My anxiety isn't all I am!

This is the cliche thing I say all the time, but the reminder helps, so I just keep doing it. Shit happens and we get set off. We also laugh and smile and feel like we're on the top of the world. We're allowed to go through and get through whatever comes at us at whatever pace it takes.

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