How Social Anxiety Affects Me in Everyday Situations

I have social anxiety. My social anxiety can make simple things very hard. I hate phones, and I avoid using them. I fear the idea of knocking on a door, and I spend a lot of time thinking about what “mistakes” I could have or have made during different activities or socializing. I want to talk to people sometimes, but then a voice inside my head stops me and says, “You’ll look stupid,” or “You’ll look weird.” Social anxiety is hard to live with, but I have learned how to do some things with confidence.

I used to be very afraid of ordering at a restaurant. Friends and family members challenged me to order by myself. Finally, one day when I was at Panera Bread, I ordered all by myself. I felt so proud of myself! I actually ordered my own food, all by myself. Each time I order, it gets easier. I still have some anxiety about ordering, but it’s not as bad. My social anxiety makes small things feel huge to me. If I’m embarrassed or if I make a mistake, I will often replay the scenario in my head over and over again.

Social anxiety is hard, but I’m thankful for the people in my life who try to understand. My friends and family try to understand me and help me. I try to explain it to them so that they can try to understand me better. I am lucky to have caring people in my life to go to when I need help. I also do certain things to try to help myself with my social anxiety. I like to listen to music on my iPod. If I’m having a rough time, then listening to music can help me feel better.

To those who know somebody with social anxiety, please understand that we are not trying to “ignore you” or “be a hermit.” We need patience and understanding. Please don’t brush our social anxiety off as us making it up — our anxiety is real, and brushing it off does not validate our social anxiety. We are not “faking it,” social anxiety is real.

Social anxiety is hard, but it does not define me. I hope that someday I will be able to be anxiety-free, but until then I will keep trying, one step at a time.

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