Social Anxiety: Hard to have, hard to hide

I cancelled an event on a friend today. And I felt horrible about it. But you know what feels even more horrible? Feeling like the whole world is staring at you, waiting for you to step outside your door and make a mistake. And laugh at you.

Social anxiety isn’t a joke. I have it. I know some people have it even more severely than I do, and some to a lesser degree. No matter what degree, it’s really hard to work your life around it. I’m a student at a university. I have 16 credits, I have friends, I have volunteering, I have a job, I have a boyfriend, etc. I’m busy, which makes my mind and anxiety worse. It’s hard enough to go outside for classes sometimes, and then to have to go to an event with my friends? For every four events I go to, I cancel one because (although I realize that these events are fun) sometimes my mind is just overwhelmed with stress about going out and interacting with other human beings. I just can’t handle being this busy, and something has to give. I’d prefer it wasn’t my grades, so I have to cut some things out in order to make myself comfortable again.

Another big part of my social anxiety is the feeling that my life is spinning out of control, and I can’t do anything to help it. This feeling can hit anytime, and can be completely overwhelming. Those are the days when I just can’t bring myself to get out of bed for even a meal. But I have to override those feelings most of the time, because I need to get to my classes, to my job, or to my volunteering. So when those feelings hit during a weekend, or a break, I cancel whatever is scheduled not only because it gives me time to calm myself back down (which takes hours), but it also gives me a sense of control in my life. If I can cancel something, I feel bad about cancelling but I feel so much better about what I’m doing with myself.

Another thing is, my social anxiety actually affects my health. I have a weaker constitution naturally, and that is exacerbated by the stress that I force myself to undergo just through the anxiety of daily actions. When I wake up in the morning and everything looks like it is crumbling, I get an awful headache and start to feel nauseous because that’s the way my anxiety affects me. It clouds my mind and bogs down my body. So when I say I’m feeling sick, I’m being honest, but maybe not completely honest. Very few of my friends are aware of my social anxiety, because I’m embarrassed by the condition, and I’m also a little afraid of someone accusing me of lying about it. So I make feeble excuses for feeling bad, and I know it’s terrible of me to cancel when I technically have nothing else happening.

I know it makes me look kind of flaky, and I feel like a bad friend for it. But I feel like I have to cancel sometimes, in order to preserve my sanity and patch myself back together so I can face another day.

To my friends who I have informed about this blog: This is almost always why I cancel. It isn’t an excuse- I know it’s not polite, and it’s wrong. But it is an explanation, and I hope it helps you make more sense of my behavior. Sorry, and I love you.

-Rachel

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4 thoughts on “Social Anxiety: Hard to have, hard to hide

  1. Ugh, I can relate so well. My social anxiety isn’t as bad as it used to be, although sometimes I wonder if I’ve actually improved at all… because now I pretty much just go to class (which is on Tues/Thurs), the Y (to exercise) and work. Idk. I can’t tell whether I just prefer solitude now or if I would still get as freaked out as I used to. In middle school it was HORRIBLE and basically I didn’t want to leave my house.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an introvert and someone who suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I feel your pain! Social events drain me of energy and I get so anxious and paranoid about my body language, if I’m talking too much, how I look, etc. I often cancel on friends and blame it on work (these days, that’s actually true).
    The thing is, you have to do what it takes to restore yourself. Don’t feel too guilty! Your friends would rather you feel healthy and cancel than go and be miserable.

    Like

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