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15 Secrets of 'Rude' People With Anxiety

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First impressions are hard. Most of us have been in a social situation where we’ve felt we didn’t come off in the way we wanted to. Maybe we were more reserved than we wanted to be, or maybe we just couldn’t stop talking, for fear of letting an awkward silence hang in the air. For people who live with anxiety, scenarios like this can feel all too real.

Sometimes, what looks like being standoffish and “stuck up,” is really just a coping technique to mask the anxiety within. So if someone you know seems “rude” in social situations, don’t automatically assume they’re doing it on purpose — there could be a reason why.

We wanted to know what people with anxiety had to say about this, so we asked people who have come off as “rude” due to anxiety from our Mighty community to share one thing they wish others understood about them.

Here’s what they had to say:

1.When I’m nervous, I babble. I talk nonstop, because awkward silences make my anxiety even worse. I think I’m boring the person, they think I’m annoying, they don’t want to talk to me. I cut off people sometimes accidentally when I’m overexcited or nervous and people have taken it as if I don’t care what they have to say. I apologize profusely when I do it and explain I don’t mean to, but lots of people don’t accept that. They just think I talk because I want to hear what I have to say, and don’t care what they do. It hurts a lot because people don’t realize I’m only doing it to keep from internally freaking out.” — Sunshine M.

2. “Sometimes I don’t join in the conversation because even though I can hear voices having the conversation, I have no idea of the content. My brain is too busy trying to process all the conversations in the room, my surroundings, the people there and trying to work out whether it’s a safe environment and what these people think about me.” — Amy M.

3. “Sometimes I just can’t relate, so I don’t reply. It’s not being rude, I just fail to understand. But I want to.” — Jace P.

4. “Sometimes I have what seems like a burst of anger and people think I have anger issues and that I’m being rude to people. I’m actually having anxiety and getting overwhelmed and it comes out as frustration and anger. I wish when it happened those close to me would take a minute to ask if I’m OK and what they can do for me instead of getting annoyed or saying I have anger issues. I hate that people think I’m rude to others when really, I just have anxiety.” — Sarah A.

5. “My ‘rudeness’ is actually a defense mechanism because I have anxiety about trying to interact with people and feeling I don’t have anything to offer. I guess I get defensive, standoffish and aloof, but I really want to participate…” — Melinda B.

6. “People think I’m being rude when I have my phone in my hands constantly or when I look down at my hands and fiddle with my rings instead of looking at them when they’re talking. I’m not trying to be rude, I just can’t cope in a lot of social situations, and it’s either do little things like I do or have a panic attack which would be worse. I do apologize for coming across as rude, but I’m really just trying to cope by doing what I know works for me.” — Monnie M.

7. “Groups terrify me. If I’m in a group and sitting silently, it doesn’t mean I don’t care. I’m listening and caring and participating, but it’s too terrifying for me to speak up in a group sometimes.” — Alyssa F.

8. “My lack of responses don’t mean I am uninterested. I just worry I may have word vomit and be picked apart for something I accidentally mispronounced or because my voice shakes… I’m forever worried I am offending everyone and bothering them with my existence.” — Shelby G.

9. “I have a hard time making small talk. When I do engage, I often overanalyze the conversation and think of things I should have said and even become embarrassed about the whole interaction. Sometimes it’s just easier to keep quiet. High anxiety can also lead to impulsive reactions from me, then that also leads to deep regret.” — Amanda L.

10. “Anytime I stick by the side of who I’m with, I’m seen as clingy and disrespectful. I don’t mean to be, I’m just shy and try to stay with people I know.” — Ariah S.

11. “I don’t know how to connect with strangers. I don’t know what I can trust about what they do or say. I don’t know how to react to the conversation. So I become monotoned and unexpressive to avoid saying or doing the wrong things. I’m very tense in those situations because I’m scared of making the other person mad. But once I get to know them, I start to relax and I can finally be myself. I’m not as cold-hearted as I initially seem.” — Billi-Jo W.

12. “I try to joke with other people and I end up sounding bossy or bitchy or offensive. There are too many examples I could give.” — Carolyn M.

13. “When I ‘check out,’ it’s not because I’m trying to tune you out. I have no control over it, and I hate it. It can be really scary to not feel connected to yourself, and it’s worse when you can still recognize the way people are looking at you when they can notice it. I can be aware of what is going on, but my body is in robot mode and my mind is either stuck inside myself or somewhere else entirely. If I am just off in the corner quietly watching everyone, it’s because I am puzzled at the ease in which everyone else can socialize. I’m struggling to stay present and just be comfortable in my own skin, and everyone else is just able to enjoy the moment. I’m not judging you, I am admiring you. I wish I could be like you.” — Sierra S.

14. “I’ve had this feedback at work. My response has been due to the sheer worry, panic and flapping going on inside my head. I wish others could understand that for someone like me, their ‘simple request’ can actually be a massive thing which triggers a fast spiral in my head. No amount of my ex-boss telling me ‘not to worry’ or ‘to deal with my mind talk’ would help.” — Kelly E.

15. “I hate small talk. I dislike a lot of chatter in general, but small talk is the worst. If you try to start up a conversation with me and I don’t know you, I’m not going to respond more than a word or two if I can help it. I’ve been told many times I come across as rude or stuck up, but that’s not the case. I’m just extremely anxious about talking to people, and I’m always worried I’m going to say the wrong thing and offend someone.” — Haley B.

Can you relate?

Thinkstock photo via Ralwel.

Originally published: August 22, 2017
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