By Carmen Castillo
Most people would never believe that I, out of all people, am dealing with social anxiety. I consider myself to be kind to strangers, friends, and coworkers, but that does not necessarily mean I don’t get anxious in social settings.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 15 million adults in the United States have social anxiety. The point of this article is to spread awareness about social anxiety, because I personally feel that many people don’t know it’s actually a thing. I’ll just mention a few of the symptoms I deal with on a daily basis. And to be clear, I am not an expert on the subject at all. I’m still learning about it every single day, but I would love to answer any questions you might have for me personally.
One thing a lot of my friends have noticed about me is that I’m not the “partying type.” I really like being alone most of the time, and I admit that part of why I choose not to go out is because of the constant fear of interacting with a big group of people, meeting new people, and starting conversations. Ever since I was little, I can remember being alone in my room even when there were guests in my home, but I never really thought anything of it. My mom would have to force me to say hi to our company, and then I would usually go back to my room for the night. I guess that’s where it all started.
Another thing I’m trying to work on is canceling plans. Sometimes I cancel for legitimate reasons, but other times, my social anxiety starts to kick in. People with social anxiety often cancel plans because we tend to think of all the ways our interactions with others can go wrong. It isn’t really something we can control, and most of the time we feel extremely guilty for canceling and fear that others might judge us, regardless of our excuses. I always feel awful after canceling plans, but the fear of actually going out, socializing, and possibly feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed is not always something I can handle.
I don’t think my social anxiety is noticeably extreme, but there are some people who experience blushing, nausea, excessive sweating, trembling/shaking, or even a rapid heart rate – but these symptoms are not all-inclusive. [or IBS, stomach cramps, agoraphobia…]. A lot of people misunderstand social anxiety. It doesn’t mean that you don’t like talking to people; it just means that you fear people will judge you negatively.
I am not writing this article for people to feel bad for me. I just want to let our readers know that mental health is extremely important. You never know how much of an impact your words or actions can have on someone else. Someone you know might be dealing with social anxiety, whether you know it or not. Also, if you think you might have social anxiety disorder or any kind of mental disorder, do not be afraid to seek help. There are many resources available to you, and I have posted some below: