The trap of social anxiety
You’re not the only one. I’ve struggled with social anxiety most of my life. I was always the awkward one. The outsider. The loner. And terribly lonely. Because…
People are scary
Do you ever try to figure out how someone is thinking, only to get yelled at?
And you’re like, “I’m just trying to understand you!”
Even when nothing bad happens, just existing around other people is draining.
So called “friends” have made fun of you, used you, or ghosted you, and you have no idea what you did wrong.
And no one likes you
“For evidence I would call Your Honor’s attention to exhibits A through Z, which clearly show people walking out of the Defendant’s life…”
And you’d totally give up on people, except…
You’re really lonely.
Your furbaby cuddling up beside you is nice, but the conversations are decidedly one-sided.
To add insult to injury, you’re smart
You can learn, analyze, synthesize, and produce complex information and skills in lots of other areas.
Just not when it comes to people.
So the logical conclusion must be: it’s you
Obviously, you’re the problem.
Everyone else, even your little cousins (who, let’s face it, aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed) manage this “people thing” just fine. You’re the one who’s always saying the wrong thing, misunderstanding people, too sensitive.
Please allow me a moment on my soapbox to say…
Thank you. I needed to get that out of my system.
I’ve been there
I totally and 100% get this because it’s exactly who I was for much of my life.
I tried fitting in, then standing out, and performed in order to earn acceptance. When it didn’t work, I tried all of those things harder.
I internalized all the criticism I ever received, rehearsed it in my head, and flung it right back in my own face, time and time again. I tried to substitute impressive accomplishments for feeling good about myself. I drove myself to work harder, be better, get everything righter (parallelism: check; irony: check) than everyone else. Until I couldn’t anymore.
I burned out. Collapsed. My body said “no more.”
For which I am eternally grateful. Because that forced me to try something different. Something new. Revolutionary.
Which ultimately transformed my entire life.
I learned that it is indeed possible to move from a socially anxious outsider, to being reasonably comfortable around people.
Not exactly overpromising, am I?
OK, cards on the table, it won’t happen overnight. Your people issues (discomfort, social anxiety, avoidance, etc.) took years to develop, and aren’t going to disappear in a few weeks. Or when you decide you’re ready.
What can happen, if you’re ready, is to lay the foundations for radically better relationships to grow.
Interested in more about this? I’ve got plenty to say on the topic. Keep reading. 🙂