What I Need My Friends to Understand About My Social Anxiety
I saw a post that made me really pissed off. I can’t remember where I saw it. Maybe Facebook or Tumblr or Instagram or Pinterest.
To be honest, it made me cry a little bit.
“If they want to be friends with you, they will make the effort. If they miss you, they’ll call. If they want to be with you, they’ll text. If they care, they’ll show it. And if not, they are not worth your time.”
And yeah, it’s probably true, and probably why I feel I make a horrible friend and only have one or two friends. However, for me, not communicating with people online is not a choice I make. I promise.
Dear friend: I’m not choosing to ignore you. I’m not choosing to ignore anyone. I want to make that effort, I want to talk. I want to call. I want to text. I want to do all this and that.
I. Just. Cannot. Do. It.
I am held back by a strong force that I don’t know how to control. I cannot send a Facebook message saying, “Hey, wanna meet up?” or “Hey, how are you?” to somebody I know. I can’t send an email, I can’t send a text. I can’t call someone up.
Sometimes I struggle just tagging people in stuff on Facebook, and sometimes I can’t even open my inboxes. I just can’t do it, and I’m not just saying that because I’m an introvert and people mentally drain me, but because I am afraid.
I am petrified of people and this fear debilitates me from being able to physically send online messages to my friends. I want, more than anything, to be able to textually say hello to my friends. I want to be able to communicate, but I can’t.
To some, picking up their mobile phone and typing away to people is an easy task. For me, it is one of the hardest things to do.
I type what I want to say. I even go to the extreme of writing what I want to say on a web document, just to perfect what I want to say, and I stare at the blinking cursor yelling at myself for hours to just press the send button. When I can’t do it, I stare at my laptop for ages, hating myself and heavily feeling the guilt.
To me, pressing that send button is equivalent to jumping off a cliff without a parachute.
It’s not easy.
The conversation in my mind looks like this:
“These people don’t even like you.”
“This message is too annoying. You are being annoying. Nobody wants to talk to someone who is annoying.”
“This message is too long. Nobody will ever read this.”
“This message is too short. You are being too vague.”
“What are you even doing? You are going to embarrass yourself and everyone is going to talk about it.”
“Is all your grammar right? Your grammar needs to be perfect or else they are going to think you are ‘stupid’ and ‘dumb.’”
“You sound too boring. Nobody wants to talk to someone who is boring.”
“Is this small talk? What if they don’t like small talk?”
“These people don’t really want to talk to you.”
“You sound too energetic.”
“Are you talking about yourself again? You are acting selfish, nobody cares.”
“You can’t speak to these people. They are still mad at you over that thing you did.”
“These people are too busy to talk to you. ‘Too busy’ is a euphemism (I spelled ‘euphemism’ right on the first go and I felt so proud of myself!) for the fact they really just hate you.”
“Is this even important? Does this person really need to know this?”
“What if they don’t reply to you because they secretly hate you? What if they take a long time to reply because they don’t want to talk to you? What if they take a long time to reply because something bad happens to them?
“What will they reply to this? Will it be mean? Are they going to reply that they don’t want anything to do with you? What if they go off subject and you don’t know what to say? How are you going to answer to their reply?”
“It is too late to talk with them tonight. They are trying to sleep. You will be disturbing them.” (I think this at 5 p.m.)
“It is too early to talk with them. They haven’t woken up yet. You will be disturbing them.”
“What if you are disturbing them? They are going to hate you because you disturbed them.”
“Is what I am saying mean? Is this going to sound bitchy? Is the person going to take offense to what I say? What if they do? What if they hate me forever because I sent them this mean message? What if our friendship is ruined because I sent them a mean message?”
“Does this even make sense? Is it understandable?”
“This person is going to judge every word you say and judge you.”
It’s hard to textually speak to people when these phrases are circulating my mind and I believe everyone single one of them.
It brings up so much anxiety to the point where I am in a lot of emotional pain.
I have damaged laptops because I have thrown them across rooms, just because I could not build up enough courage to send a message to a close friend when I knew they needed a friend to talk to.
I see people text other people without thinking about it and I wonder, ”How can you do that? How can you not think? How does it come so easily?”
How can something be so easy for someone yet so hard for me?
So, dear friend: please understand that I want to be your friend. I love you. I care about you a lot. I’m not ignoring you.
Follow this journey on the author’s blog.
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