themighty logo

9 Signs You're an Extrovert With Social Anxiety

Living with any mental illness is hard to say the least. It’s a constant struggle that can rob you of the energy and motivation you need to beat it.

Having social anxiety when you’re an extrovert is a prime example of how mental illness can be a huge contradiction, which adds to the confusion. Not only will you be confused, but so will your friends.

Here are some examples of what happens in a friendship when you live with social anxiety:

1. You alway think you’re being ditched. 

You’re seven minutes late? So we’re not friends anymore? What.. oh look, there you are.

2. New social situations scare you…

Um, no — I can’t go into this new social setting without knowing where the closest bathroom is, the exit, how close I’ll be sitting with people, oh and who is inside. I want to meet you in the same cafe/pub/restaurant every single time. Variety is not the spice of life.

3. …and you’re not showing up alone.

Meet you in there? Nope, not a hope. I’m convinced people will stop and stare if I walk in on my own, so I’m counting on you to escort me, bestie.

4. Impulsive plans don’t work for you. 

What? You’re telling me you don’t want to make plan at least a week in advance and you’d prefer to “see what happens”? Hmm, this doesn’t sit well with me. 

5. You don’t do well with long wait times.

But it’s been a whole 13 minutes since I sent that Whatsapp, 15 since Viber and what about that Facebook message? The blue ticks are taunting me as is the “seen” feature. I get it –you’re ending our friendship, aren’t you?

6. You have to explain why you’re so talkative when you’re actually anxious.

Yes, I know it looks like I’m a social butterfly, charming older people with my professional small talk skills, making the bartender laugh and reeling strangers in with my upbeat demeanor and witty charm.

What you don’t know? Well in the words of musical-maestro Eminem, “palms are sweaty, knees weak…” Yep, I have crippling physical symptoms of anxiety while I try not to choke on my over-analyzed words and I’m probably going to go over the conversation at least 20 times in my head after, at least. What I’m doing is overcompensating, thinking that if I keep talking, keep laughing and keep exuding confidence, no one will know how much I’m actually freaking out… That is paradox of being an extrovert with and introverted mind. I know I confuse you, pal.

7. You don’t do well with discussing mistakes. 

I may of done that, and yes it may of happened — but let’s not talk about it. It will send me into visible distress. I tripped on my way back from the pub? Surely, that’s a criminal charge, right?

8. You can’t take a compliment. 

Look, I know I seem to be hitting career goals, and I’m doing work with some incredible publications, but please believe me when I tell you I’m talentless and won’t achieve anything. I’m always afraid people will find out I just got lucky and I’m actually a fraud. Where do  I see myself in five years time? Sweeping the streets of course… and then home to my 11 cats. Preach.

9. “Fun weekends away” are always better in theory.

Yes, I’ve been looking forward to that weekend with you for ages — months in fact. We were doing a countdown, swapping messages discussing the finer details. Talking about how it was going to be one of the best weekends all year.  

The reality? The crowds are so big they overwhelm me, there are too many people around I don’t know and lots of other triggers that fuel my social anxiety — which destroys every piece of energy and enjoyment left in me as I concentrate on not having a panic attack attack or breaking down in front of anyone. It’s anxiety so bad my chest restricts and makes me feel like I’m going to get sick. It makes me appear grumpy, ungrateful and like a general mess. Even though I’m surrounded by hundreds of people, I feel lonely and alone. It escalates so much I need to go home to bed, hide from the world and miss the majority of the weekend we’d been looking forward to.  

Staying home feels so safe, but also incredibly lonely — oh, the irony.

Sorry for bailing, bestie. I hope one day you’ll understand.

Related: Mental Health on The Mighty Podcast