When Social Anxiety Ruins Your Relationships
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Health and Wellness

When Social Anxiety Ruins Your Relationships

Coming to the realization that you don't even know how to make friends is daunting. With social anxiety, it's par for the course--but it doesn't have to be.

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When Social Anxiety Ruins Your Relationships
"Anxiety" by Alfy on Flickr

Throughout college campuses, anxiety has become a resident of its own. According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment survey, only one in six college students (15.8) had been diagnosed with, or treated for, anxiety. 21.9% from the same survey reported that anxiety had had a negative effect on their school performance, from a low grade to a dropped course.

As anxiety rises to the top mental health issue for adults in America, often lying hand-in-hand with depression, it's hard to fight back. It's hard to want to fight back. It's even harder when anxiety affects you socially and suddenly, you can't think of any friends to turn to.

Outside of your own home, the world is a social place and being alone can often make you feel like a pariah. Truly, when you're restrained by fear and can't even approach someone to make a friend, social anxiety is suffocating you. You can't make eye contact, you're too hyperaware of your body while in a group, you eat more silence than make words, and you simply can't even figure out how to get close enough to someone to even manage those fears. Please realize that at this point, you need someone to talk to.

But don't think that something's wrong with you. People are weird, we're all different--of course, it's not east to talk to someone. Where do you even start? What are you supposed to say? How do you even make friends? Rebecca G. Adams, professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro says that these "...three conditions...have [been]considered crucial to making close friends [by sociologists since the 1950's]: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other," but that's easier said than done.

Basically, join a club or something that meets weekly, so people get to know you. If you're sporty, go out and push yourself again. You have to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself in order to improve. Failure and embarrassment aren't not going to happen to you, but oftentimes, your mind over-analyzes and exaggerates those negative feelings. Remember: that's why you're pushing yourself in the first place.

In small groups, everyone gets to know each other, so start easy. Ask for help, use the other people's names in conversation, ask them about the club/event you're now participating in. Show interest in them and they'll show interest back. After all, you're not a pariah, but a part of the group too.

Above all, do not remain stagnant. If you struggle with eye contact, keep trying to look into people's eyes. If awkward silences are a problem, do not constantly wait for the other person to start the conversation. Take control in social situations instead of always relaxing in the backseat. You're not boring or annoying as long as you smile and listen to others as much as they listen to you.

Social anxiety does it's best to control your life, ostracizing you from the world, stuck inside with just your computer, homework, and a flirtation with depression. When it ruins relationships you have or are in the process of making, it's integral that you think of how much better off you will be when you keep pushing back. You aren't a pariah and you don't deserve to think of yourself that way.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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