Feeling shy or awkward in front of a big and unfamiliar crowd is something that many people face. But this shyness fades away with time as you interact and become familiar with those people.
But… what if it doesn’t? What if this trivial seeming shyness eats you up slowly and slowly, to a point where you begin running away from people instead of conversing with them?
Are You Suffering From Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety or social anxiety disorder is a heightened paranoia or even phobia of interacting with people, for the fear of being judged, misinterpreted or embarrassing yourself.
It may result in avoiding conversation with people or even at times completely shutting them out. The people whom you run from may be complete strangers, casual acquaintances or even people who love and care for you.
Common Triggers For Social Anxiety
- Attending public gatherings like meetings, parties etc.
- Giving a presentation in front of a group
- Meeting new people or making friends
- Initiating conversations
- Somebody asking about your feelings or state of mind
- Saying ‘no’ to people
- Eating or drinking in public
- Confessing or admitting something
- Simplistic jokes in friends’ circle
The list can go on and on, since for a person who is socially anxious, every situation that involves other fellow human beings feels like – “Oh no! PEOPLE! Not again.”
Here’s How I Am Overcoming My Social Anxiety
Since childhood, I have been a shy kid, afraid to initiate talks and incapable to keep them going. And I didn’t know that I am suffering from social anxiety disorder until I was 20 and started becoming fearful of even talking to my own friends!
A few months back, things went south in life. I began staying aloof and shutting everyone out. It wasn’t even that I enjoyed my own company.
I am a person who thrives on company and caring friends. So, even when I wished desperately to be with a friend or a sibling, I shut them all out, just for fear of being misunderstood.
It became a vicious never-ending cycle – my deteriorating mental health, my wanting a shoulder to cry on, but my anxiety of talking to anyone and consequently avoiding them in turn added on to my already worsening state of mind.
Rising From The Rock Bottom
I finally reached an unfortunate saturation point, from where I didn’t know how and where to proceed to. Because I was hurt, I avoided people and ended up hurting them too. And when I came to that realisation, I knew I had to act and re-start from somewhere.
After having disconnected with everyone for so long, the way back to people wasn’t easy. I began with one person at a time.
Messaged one person and simply said that I wished to talk about something. She agreed readily. Talking my heart out to her felt like a huge emotional unburdening. It isn’t so bad in reality as it might seem in your head.
Then, one by one I reached out to almost everyone whom I had neglected. And trust me, they understood. Didn’t judge. And stood by me still, all the same.
I began talking in class, becoming the first bencher who heard the professors and raised questions. I felt confident and more and more assured about my worth day by day.
But, it isn’t an all rosy picture. I still freak out at the thought of being with more than 3-4 people. Yet, it is not that worse either.
Overcoming social anxiety can be challenging, a lot. Even then, it is NOT impossible. All you need is to begin somewhere. Reach out. Talk to one friend, then the next and so on. And remember, it all gets better with time, just as you do!
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