Social anxiety affects people in different ways. Many are nervous to make phone calls, join large crowds, talk in front of people. I’d like to address a couple of things I come up against every day.
I’ve always had a social limit. Working in retail, commuting to London, sometimes just listening to other people talk can be enough interaction. It is exhausting, being interested and interesting all the time. If I don’t feel I’ve had enough time to myself I become grumpy and irritable; only making myself harder to talk to. It can be frustrating at times; it makes it hard to commit to social occasions and can ruin others.
This antisocial behaviour is in direct opposition of my, sometimes crippling, fear of being left out. Left out of what? Anything. It can be even more frustrating when I’m stewing about events I never wanted to attend. I’ve spent many an evening scanning Facebook to see what I’m missing out on. It’s childish and only hurting myself. Things are only made worse when I’ve refused an event I later regret missing. It can make for a long night.
The way they affect me is different, and it is undoubtedly the latter that feels worse. Physical weight on my chest and shoulders only exaggerated by compulsively checking social media. Often only to be disappointed.
Overcoming the my ‘social limit’ has been relatively simple: accept the invite. I try to go to as many events as possible. Quite often, after a drink or two and some conversation, I find myself enjoying myself. It can be easy to forget that I am a social person. I like people. However, it is also important to know when to let it go. Days when I find myself lost in thought and music for hours, when my brain is unresponsive, are often ones better spent in my own space. Overall, I feel I’ve got a grasp on this one.
Controlling my fear of being left out has been much harder. Small oversights can easily be exaggerated and I can take offense from the littlest, or imaginary, things. I can’t rationalise myself out of these feelings. In my head I can see it clearly, but only for a second. Soon it will be clouded by nasty comments, imaginary insults and worse. It makes me feel immature and I try to distract myself and simply wait for it go away.
Both of these can makes things difficult, make me difficult. I can be quick to take offence, I over think and I can be distant. My head truly is my worse enemy.