8 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You Have Social Anxiety

Make up excuses as to why you can't go out. 

“Sorry, I have a test to study for.”

“Umm, no thanks. I’m not feeling well, I’ve got a headache.”

“I’ve got a bunch of homework, but maybe next time?”

“Yeah, I’m broke right now, so count me out.”

You don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or worse, have them mad or upset with you for constantly bailing. Plus, you don’t think they’d be too understanding to hear the real reason why you’d rather run your head through a wall rather than go on a simple movie outing.

On the rare occasions you do manage to be convinced to leave the safety of your bedroom, you can only think about how much sooner it’ll be before you can go back home. 

 

Suffer from doubt and low self-esteem. 

There’s nothing like the dark perception that everyone is secretly seizing you up and judging you, so it only makes sense that you’re so overly critical of yourself. It feels like nothing you do is truly good enough, and so it’s easier to challenge or reject the praise you get for your talents when you don’t think you deserve it in the first place. It’s also bad when you have that awful feeling at the back of your mind that people don’t really like you, even when logically nothing has been said or done to prove you’re disliked. Or awkward. Or being annoying. Or being distant/cold.

Every day constitutes some sort of battle between pulling yourself together and holding it like that, so you are very careful to hide how you truly feel; there’s a real alarm of people bearing witness to your mental breakdowns in public, and you want none of that. In fact, the less attention on you, the better.

Many times, you find yourself planning certain activities and errands around how many people will be there as well as who will be there. You compare yourselves to others and wonder why everyone else can operate like a normal, functioning human being while you just want to sit on the sidelines, away from any and all attention. 

 

Stress about every little thing and beat yourself up over things that don't matter in the grand scheme of things.

People can’t understand why you’re so bent out of shape over a situation that happened THREE MONTHS AGO, and “wasn’t a big deal” to begin with. First of all, of course it wasn’t a big deal! You know that! You don’t need to be reminded. But just because you know, that doesn't’ stop your brain from reliving past failures and the other embarrassing or traumatizing events that happened in your life. And they always seem to pop up in your thoughts at the most inconvenient times, i.e. when you’re trying to relax.

As if that wasn’t mentally and emotionally taxing enough, you also can be counted on to blame yourself for the things that go wrong, even if they have nothing to do with you. A conversation with a classmate from bio lab fizzles and goes south, and the person excuses herself to leave. Forget that they may have had a perfectly good reason to go; obviously the only explanation as to why they left is because you were too boring/too weird/too standoffish for them. 

 

Pull a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Around your closest family and dearest friends, you’re this bright, bubbly, hilarious person who has no problems with human interaction and conversing. In fact you might even talk too much. Yet in other situations you might as well tattoo the word ‘mute’ to your forehead and hide in a corner. People meeting you for the first time in this state assume you’re shy and introverted, whether these things are true or not.

 

 Extremely hesitant or borderline fearful to play the dating game  

Friends ask why you’re not seeing anyone or are confused when you wave off their attempts to set you up. Even when they’re joking around, you automatically launch into freak-out mode and have to hide the fact that your heart is threatening to beat out of your chest because of the simple word ‘date’. You already spend copious amounts of time scrutinizing and second guessing what people say and don’t say, and worrying over how to act and respond to others normally, so adding romance to that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Self-sabotage is often your worst enemy yet the most comforting friend, without you being none the wiser.

You hold your crushes at arm’s length for fear of letting them get too close and seeing you for the psychological mess you perceive yourself to be. In fact, having a crush can be an ordeal in and of itself, and if you make an effort to interact with them, it becomes a stressful endeavor instead of the fun, lighthearted thrill it should be. It’s easier to tell your friends you’re just not interested in dating, even if you are, just to save face…and heart. 

 

Play off your anxiety as NBD to keep others' concern at bay/because others treat it like it's NBD 

You don’t tell people about the very real, very draining, very scary symptoms you experience whenever a wave of panic comes over you or you find yourself in the depths of an anxiety attack. How your hands shake, your heartbeat races, breathing becomes complicated, you feel dizzy spell coming on, and you feel a rising sense of nausea that just won’t disappear.  

You especially don’t mention how abnormal this all makes you feel, and how depressed or frustrated that makes you.

The stigma around mental illnesses, though becoming somewhat better, still poses a threat to those who suffer, especially if it’s debilitating.

 

Overcompensate for nearly everything 

Because you think the world is secretly out to get you and make you uncomfortable, you combat it with your people-pleasing nature, waving off conflict like your life depends on it, since it often feels as if it does.

You give out compliments to others like candy on Halloween, trying to make other people happy when you’re far from it.

You constantly are apologizing for things, to the point where it’s unnecessary. When people are kind or nice to you, doing nothing out of the ordinary, you’re overly gracious. You can’t thank them enough for their time, their effort, their love, their *fill in the blank*.

“I’m sorry for taking up your time.”

“I didn’t mean to interrupt, I’m so sorry.”

“I’m such a burden, I apologize”

Sometimes you wait for the three magical words ‘oh, it’s okay’, and even when those words are spoken, you still aren’t even convinced. Sometimes you notice the way and exactly when people become annoyed with your apologizes and you reach a new level of remorse. And even when people wrong you, you are extremely forgiving.

 

Decide against saying you have anxiety

If there was dollar that appeared for every time someone told you ‘everyone gets anxious’ and ‘everyone has moments of nerves’ or ‘young people are especially susceptible, so it’s okay, everyone gets anxiety once in a while’, you’d be rolling in the dough. Highly unattainable riches aside, this trivialization attitude towards the one thing that keeps you on pins in needles and messes with multiple aspects of your life, is what makes it easier to hide your mounding fear of social occasions under the vise of ‘everything is A-OK’.

People trying to be helpful and come from a respectful place may give the tired old advice to just get over it, or offer X, Y, and Z methods that are proven ways for either getting over your anxiety or to not focus on it.

On the other end of the spectrum, others just don’t get it and they could care less. It’s the butt of a joke, nothing to take seriously. Or because they aren’t directly affected by it, there’s no way they could understand your anxiety or want to understand.

 

Photo courtsey of Pixabay; Gifs courtesy of Giphy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 , 8)