I didn’t know social anxiety was an actual thing until memes happened and I realised nearly everyone is a chaotic, awkward mess on the inside while portraying an air of easy breezy coolness – with varying degrees of success.
I’ll start off by saying that social anxiety isn’t always funny. It can be crippling; it can impair your life, your relationships, your career, and it often comes teamed with other mental health issues (come and join the party, low self-esteem! And depression, don’t just linger at the door, come right in, have a drink and a cheese cube!).
For me, social anxiety comes in waves
Some days I won’t think twice about starting a conversation. Words come easily to me, I seek out interaction, I feel relaxed and happy in my own skin. But then other days, for no apparent reason, everything shuts down. I feel like I have cling film wrapped tightly around my entire body. Words? What are words? I overthink every sound I make, every micromovement; my internal monologue is interrupting itself three times over in its eagerness to criticise my every action. I can barely concentrate because I’m so exhausted by my own ‘thereness’. On these days it’s an immense effort to interact with people and – to be honest, it feels extremely isolating, as though I will never feel connected to another human being again. What’s worse is I beat myself up for it. I feel inadequate; I wonder why anyone wants to be friends with me.
But luckily for me social anxiety always passes, and for that I’m thankful. It means I can look back at myself and laugh.
So let’s take a respite from the dark side of mental health and talk about the funny things we do when we’re socially anxious. These are things I do but I’d love to know if anyone relates, or if anyone has any to add so please reply in the comments!
1. Forget what you’re supposed to do with your arms when you walk.
2. Worry about which eye to look at when someone’s talking.
3. Run out of air halfway through sentences and sometimes appear as though you’re about to cry (and maybe you are).
4. Imagine doing something inappropriate to the person you’re talking to, like kissing them, or pushing them over.
5. Stare at your phone while it rings until it stops ringing.
6. Google unknown numbers instead of answering them.
7. Write off an entire day if you have a meeting/appointment later, even if it’s only short.
7. Abandon your weekly shop when you bump into someone you know in the supermarket, just to avoid that horrible thing where you keep bumping into them down every aisle and eventually have to pretend you don’t see them anymore.
8. Feel inordinately proud of yourself when you manage to have half-decent banter with the check-out person because for 5 whole minutes, someone in this world thought you were just a normal person.
9. Feel relieved when social plans are cancelled.
10. Never forgive yourself for that one awkward thing you said or did when you were 15.
Do you have more funny things you do when you have social anxiety? Let me know in the comments!