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The Biggest Secret About My Social Anxiety


This is it. The secret is coming out.

It needs to come out so people finally know the truth about my social anxiety.

Here it is.

I love people.

I love people!

People are great. They are interesting, intriguing, and fun to watch. I love watching people interact with each other. I love to study their body language and social cues. I love people, and that is my biggest secret.

It hasn’t been a secret because I made it one. It has been a secret because people have automatically assumed since I have social anxiety I must not like people.

But that’s not it.

Most people don’t get it.

It’s not that I don’t like people. People aren’t what freak me out.

It’s the socialization, the interactions.

It’s the impending encounters at the grocery store, at the post office, and at the video store.

When I say “freak out,” I’m describing a whole body experience.

On the inside, my stomach is upset and I feel like throwing up. My breathing is shallow and rapid, and it feels like my heart is going to bust from my chest.

On the outside, my hands shake uncontrollably. I get itchy hives on my neck and chest that turn bright red. I sweat profusely all over my body.

In my head, I go to the worst case scenario of whatever social situation I’m in. I think about all the mistakes I could make while speaking. I fear tripping and falling on my face in front of people. I’m deathly afraid of being made fun of and stared at.

The mental, physical, and emotional symptoms I experience because of my social anxiety fuel me to avoid social encounters mostly because I am afraid people will notice my visible symptoms.

My symptoms aren’t brought on because I dislike people (I love people!). It’s interacting closely with them that makes me sick.

It’s unfair to assume I dislike people just because I have social anxiety. That’s like saying someone hates the color blue because they mostly wear pink.

I’m not antisocial.

I guess in a sense I am. But I’m fine with social settings. I’m fine sitting at the library as long as nobody talks to me. I’m out of the house in a social setting… I just don’t always socialize. But I’m not “antisocial” in a way that means I’m rude or dislike people.

It’s been a secret for so long because it’s what I’ve allowed people to assume. But that assumption isn’t true, or fair, and I won’t allow it anymore.

So the secret is out.

I have social anxiety, and I love people.

Image via Thinkstock.