My entire life I have been a leader. Confident and strong in my motivational abilities, communication skills, and a bright, outgoing personality. I would then describe myself as talkative, loud, and fun. Being around others energized me and gave me a sense of belonging in social groups. If you knew me growing up than I’m sure you could attest to that. Somewhere over the last year or so, I have journeyed down a path vastly different from the one I have been so familiar with. Different how you may ask? Well…
I have had to walk my journey with social anxiety.
Social anxiety can be described as the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and as a result, leads to avoidance. (Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D.)
I have no idea where this suddenly came from, but I am determined to beat it! Being around other people, and being by myself, make me equally anxious; and honestly, I’m more likely to set up shop in that place of loneliness because sadly, meeting new people and being around others terrifies me. What if I say or do the wrong thing? What if they don’t like me?
…but, I am energized by being in social environments; with people, places and things outside of myself. This struggle is social anxiety.
When I am super excited and feeling great I’ll make plans with someone. As the day nears, my anxiety and nervousness heighten and worry and fear take over. I awkwardly cancel my plans. My behavior reflects that I am not interested in pursuing these relationships, and so they fade away. Reality is, that is not the case at all. Do you see how this can look to someone who doesn’t understand or isn’t aware of my social anxiety? I am just scared to share my heart with people. As the wise Carl Jung said, “Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you”. In order to communicate the things important to me, I must share my heart.
It seems that life really is a balancing act; trying to find the right proportion. An equation if you will, to find peace and happiness. How much of myself do I give to my own heart? And how much of myself must I invest in relationship with others? What amount of each does my body need to be to function at it’s best? These are the questions that I have to ask myself over and over again.
Today, I am whole, and I feel good. Through a lot of different methods I have been able to figure out my equation. I have found that I need about 70% for my own heart to sustain my peace and happiness. This time is used for processing my thoughts, good and bad; and connecting with the deep places of my heart. Reading, writing, creating art and time spent in mediation and prayer. I find that being involved on social media helps me to overtly push and encourage myself to be less anxious about others thoughts and opinions. This 70% is my opportunity to recharge by doing the things I love; to work through the anxiety and prepare myself for being social that other 30% of the time.
I currently have a firm understanding of what I need to function at my very best. I figured this out by good ol’ trial and error. Each week I try to set up a few social activities, one on one, and with my husband by my side (this makes it much easier for me!). The rest of my time is spend working, and engaged in other activities that I enjoy. I journal regularly and take inventory of my emotions and thoughts. If it seems like an off week, I can look back at the days or week, and see what went wrong. When I’m not in the mood for journaling, or blogging, I create art of many mediums. Each piece of art is influenced by a thought or emotion that I had at the time. This acts as a visual log for me to reference back to.
Most of all, I have learned that I need people, and people need me. #wereallinthistogether
These cute little quotes perfectly describe what living with social anxiety is like, and so I wanted to share them with you:
#1 – AT HOME: Badass, Aggressively dances around with a hair brush-microphone singing pop tunes in my underwear, Reveals true insanity on social media.
IN PUBLIC: Oh god don’t look at me, Please don’t touch me, Don’t ask me anything, Don’t make eye contact, Don’t speak to them and they won’t know you’re there, I want to go home.
#2 – Texts from Anxiety: You have a good contribution to make to the conversation? Just hold onto it for a bit. Be sure…. Keep being sure….. Not yet….. Oh! They’ve changed the conversation topic, too late!
#3 – I have this problem, I isolate myself, then become upset because I am lonely.
#4 – Use the wrong word in a conversation….Spend the next three years reliving the disaster.
#5 – Texts from Anxiety: You know how your friend said they’re busy and can’t hang out this weekend? What if, and hear me out on this, WHAT IF they’re trying to tell you politely that they don’t like you anymore. Just a thought 🙂
Your stories help me heal, help us ALL heal; so leave your thoughts and comments below. Does anyone else struggle with this? Can you relate to these feelings?
Chat soon xo