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Having Social Anxiety Doesn't Always Mean You're Not Social

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Social anxiety.

Typically, I think the way many people view social anxiety is those who don’t talk to anyone and are the least known in the tower of “popularity.” But in reality, social anxiety often involves a fear of social interactions with people and how they might judge you, and the thought is usually in a negative way.

Growing up, I think I was much more introverted than other kids; when my elementary school teacher asked me what my name was, I stood there shaking in fear unable to answer her question. But since then, I’ve changed a lot. I noticed social people tend to seem more happy and can often be fun to be around. So I pushed myself over the years to be like all the “normal” kids, getting involved in school activities, going to the school dances, and I think I’ve had most people convinced for the past three years that I’m an extremely extroverted person.

Behind the facade, my brain does this exhilarating thing where it makes me overanalyze every event that occurred that night in hopes that my elementary school self who couldn’t speak up when a teacher talked to her was social and perfect enough that day. I’ll get stressed over the most trivial things, like a comment a girl made on my hair one night.

What happened:

“Oh, your hair looks different today.”

“Yeah, I added some curls to it!”

What goes through my mind:

Oh man, does she think I’m ugly? What’s wrong with my curls? Did I have one piece of hair that wasn’t curled? What if she tells the whole school about my embarrassing curls and none of my classmates are ever going to want to talk to me again? I should’ve stayed home tonight. Why do I even try?

It’s these meaningless things that keep me up at night wondering if I’m good enough, if I was social enough, if I said the wrong thing, or if others even like me. Social anxiety can take a huge toll on a person’s confidence and their well-being. So if a friend ever confides in you about having social anxiety, let them know you’re there to clarify their thoughts. Make sure they know you’re a safe person to talk to. We all want to feel loved.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: December 29, 2016
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