Thoughts on ‘Social Anxiety’

It’s been a week since I’ve posted on here. That’s not a long time, I know, but relative to my other posts its a big gap.

The reason, I’ll say, is because I visited some friends over the weekend and spent time with them. I didn’t have access to my computer for about 2-3 days, and I wasn’t really thinking about writing anyways. I was out doing some stuff.

I went down to San Marcos, Texas over the weekend since it was my friend Blake’s birthday, and we all (7 of my friends) had a plan to float the river on Friday to celebrate. It was like, 7 or 8 of us in total, all high school friends, just chilling and drinking on inflatable tubes. It was really fun.

It kinda made me think about the whole concept of social anxiety, though. I was completely comfortable around everyone, and, it’s interesting to note that that wasn’t always the case. Yes, even around some of my closest friends in high school, I’d still get uncomfortable and feel awkward. I wouldn’t know what to say, I wouldn’t feel like talking. Yet, the weekend passed by, and I felt totally in my comfort zone. I don’t really notice it in the moment anymore, because it sort of just stopped. The whole ‘nervous around a social setting’ thing just went away. I can’t pinpoint an exact way that I beat social anxiety, even though I wish I could, because I know plenty of people still deal with it.

Well, deal with what, exactly? I’ve heard some of my peers casually dismiss social anxiety, believing it to be just a normal part of life that everyone experiences. They’ll say things like “Everyone feels that, it’s just a matter of how you deal with it”. In this way, it’s not viewed as a disorder at all, whereas it’s scientifically now recognized as one. Sure, everyone does feel a little awkward around people they don’t know, or even people that they do know. But, I think it’s a little different than that.

I used to think the key to beating social anxiety was by conscious effort- because, there was a point in time where it just didn’t go away, and it took actual effort to ward it off day in and day out. It really began for me in high school, 9th grade, and honestly continued through part of 12th grade. I used to force myself to get out and talk to people, I’d try to say things I normally wouldn’t, I’d read articles at night about how to change perspective, etc. Did this make a difference? Yes, it did. It may be why I evolved past it. But, I know now that it’s not a common thing to be committing this much effort to socializing.

I look back at some of the people and conversations I had a few years ago. People would blurt out things without second thought at a poker night, in class people would actually want to raise their hand and respond to the teacher, and it’s really hard for me to believe that they looked up articles on the internet written about ‘bettering your social skills’ late at night like I did. At the time, I always thought what I was dealing with was typical- that everyone had this barrier that they had to battle everyday. Well, some did, but some didn’t-and that’s what makes me believe that the entire ‘social anxiety’ term holds some value.

I think it’s a real thing. Why? Well, even though I made real world effort to beat my social struggles, it’s not like it just one day translated into it stopping. Rather, through continued effort and experience, coupled with growing up and becoming numb to some of the same old stuff, the social anxiety sort of dissipated. It probably just had something to do with puberty- but, during puberty, hormones are out of regulation, brains are developing, etc. Basically, stuff that is out of your control happens in this time. It’s no coincidence that a lot of people feel they were in a shell during their teens. But, for some, this doesn’t change when they become an adult- they still deal with social anxiety, and its obvious that it isn’t just a mental thing that you need to get over.

I say that I’ve beaten this anxiety, but it still rears it’s head occasionally. I’ve found that I’m an honest introvert- I just prefer to have a chunk of alone time regularly. Now, this is something I think I can’t change, and that I shouldn’t attempt to change it. Other people had it easier growing up, in this regard, if they’re naturally extroverted. But, there are still times where I get nervous to talk to somebody. With a new girl that I’m interested in, during a random group project in class, a public speech etc. Overall, however, it’s not jabbing my side daily like it used to- and, I’m a lot more confident in myself today than I was at 16. It’s no coincidence that confidence and social prowess kind of go hand-in-hand.

My advice? If you’re honestly nervous in most social settings, then, get out more. It’s not what you wanna do, in fact, it’s the completely opposite of what you wanna do, but it’s needed for a period of time. You’ve gotta do it at first. It’s the concept of desensitizing yourself. The more 1-on-1 conversations you have with people, the more you’ll hear, and the more experience you’ll accumulate. Even if down the road you find out that you have a classifiable anxiety disorder, the ‘experience’ tactic will still do no harm. It helped me, and I can tell you, with confidence, that if I went to a doctor in high school with my honest complaints, I’d have been diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder. So, with that being said, don’t make an excuse. However, sometimes that doesn’t work- trust me, I know. Sometimes it’s not enough, and you find yourself just marching through days. There will be many points where you ask yourself if what you’re doing is helping whatsoever. If you feel it’s truly out of your reach, just talk to a doctor. I never did mainly because I thought it meant I’d have to have therapy sessions and “talk about my feelings”. Little did I know, talking with a doctor isn’t always personal, it doesn’t even have to be, and the SSRI prescription that you’ll likely get is harmless and just helps you function.

Also, one more tip. Look at things from a bird’s eye. Try to imagine, even if it’s difficult, that another person’s view on you is insignificant. It’s microscopic. Also, no one holds any power over you. You’re an animal, they’re an animal, you have a brain, they do as well. Be confident. Don’t ever let a person get to you, and rather than doing so by fighting with them, just sit back and ignore that. Ignore the social rank that they’re trying to impose on you, don’t pay attention to it, and most of all, be who you are. Never try and put an image on– that’s something I’ve always abided by. It’s a tiring task, it will lead to identity crisis, and, most of all, you won’t develop confidence in your true self.

Thanks for reading

Luca DeJesu, 4:39 PM

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