Social anxiety is when an individual see people around him laughing, talking, and enjoying each other’s company. But he, on the other hand, can’t seem to force himself to participate or do the same. The situation is more common than most people think. So when someone feels like they are the only ones experiencing it, they are wrong. There are tons of other people who can’t seem to get rid of it and are struggling with different challenges on their own.
“Social anxiety is a perception that there is something embarrassing and deficient about us, and, unless we work hard to conceal or hide it, it will be revealed and we will be judged or rejected for it.” said Ellen Hendriksen, clinical psychologist.
With that, here are some of the significant things that only a person with social anxiety will understand.
The Preference For Virtual Communication
A socially anxious individual can communicate via text or social media. However, in person, he always gets lost in finding the right words to use in a conversation. An individual often finds it comfortable to communicate without having a face-to-face interaction with people. Why? He merely doesn’t know the answer to that. He only feels at ease expressing his thoughts and ideas over those communication tools.
The Choice Of Having One Or Two Friends
Perhaps it can be a reason of introversion when a person decides to stick with only one or two friends. Usually, a socially anxious one doesn’t genuinely want to mingle with more people. It is often to feel suffocated and irritable being surrounded by them. He can be perfectly okay even if he doesn’t see a couple of friends often. And though the individual enjoys his other friends’ company, he can live better off without them.
There’s Always An Excuse To Be Left Alone
There are no specific signs that will show if a person is socially anxious. Though there are some physical manifestations, it often gets ignored. Therefore, most of the time, he gets invited to social gatherings without others knowing about his condition. But instead of attending a crowded place, a socially anxious one usually don’t go. Instead, he invents reasons that will excuse him for not being able to participate in. With the constant refusal, others eventually end up not inviting the person anymore.
People’s Presence Becomes Overwhelming
Being surrounded by many people is too overwhelming for an individual with social anxiety. Every light, noise, smell, take in. Sometimes, it makes him unable to process information with those and even experiences a hard time filtering things out. An individual appears bombarded with too many things all at the same time. With that, he sets himself into a “flight mode” and immediately looks for a way to remove himself from the situation.
“These fears can be triggered by real or perceived criticism by others and can impact a person at school, work, a social gathering, crowded place like restaurants, bars or sporting event, and even places like doctor’s offices or stores,” said Jesse Matthews, PsyD.
No Contribution To Any Conversations
It doesn’t always mean that a socially anxious person can’t contribute something to a conversation. The truth is, there are some good things he can add in the discussion. However, the person opts not to. That’s because he fears that if ever he shared something to the crowd, someone will criticize him. That even if he elaborates his ideas, his contributions will only turn out unworthy. However, there are instances that he can feel comfortable talking to people. But it is expected to be a short and precise one.
The Comfort Zone Is All That Matters
A person with social anxiety often thinks that his comfort zone is the only safest place he can be. With that mentality, he shuts everyone out. It usually implies a confused behavior that others often misinterpret as something rude or weird. With that, the person often ends up having no one around which is okay with him at some point too.
No Unfamiliar People Are Welcome
A socially anxious person builds his life around family members. And since he grew up among them, he can potentially converse with them naturally. However, when an unfamiliar person tends to enter the family circle, the socially anxious one begins to distance himself from all the others. He will then intentionally avoid spending time with them especially when all the other family members are showing fondness to the new individual.
“It is untrue that most people with social anxiety prefer to be antisocial and to avoid connecting with others,” said Paulette Sherman, PsyD. “It is something they need to learn how to combat through treatment and possibly with the help of medication over time.”
Often Imagine Worst Case Scenarios
Although a person with social anxiety understand that some of the worst scenarios he’s imagining won’t happen, he never stops thinking about it. With that, it increases the anxiety level in an unmanageable way. The particular action promotes the need for isolation which is not helpful in daily function.
Some may see this as something reasonable and not a big deal. But for those people who have social anxiety, it means more than just worries and fears.