What It's Like Living With Social Anxiety

** Originally posted on January 11th, 2018, on Self Known **

Hey friend. Today I wanted to talk about something I have been combatting for a couple of years now.

Social anxiety.

Now, this is something that is very serious to me, and I would never want to overexaggerate things or blow them out of proportion. This is not something I am writing for sympathy or for anyone to feel sorry for me. This is simply a post about what the world looks like from my perspective.

I know when I read blog posts or watch videos that detail what other people are dealing with it makes me feel closer to them. It helps me understand why they do what they do and what colors their world is painted in.

And it is always nice to know you are not alone.

That is why I am taking the time to write about this today.

When did you realize you were socially anxious?

It actually wasn't me. It was my mom. Back when I was dancing (2011), I got good enough to be moved up a level -- a level above all of my friends. This caused a very stirring conflict in me because while I was flattered, I didn't know the girls in this level, I hadn't had a very good experience with them in the past, and they were very... cliquey. There is also the fact that I am naturally timid and introverted, so basically I spent every two-hour class very isolated. I will admit, mostly by choice.

I think these new circumstances among other things contributed to my growing anxiety. To be a classical ballet dancer you have to be very disciplined and self-critiquing, and when this is a mindset you pursue for several hours a day for several days a week, well, I guess it leaks into your person. At least it did for me.

It started to get really bad as the year went on. The level I was in was far too advanced for me, and there were several instances where I felt humiliated, ridiculed, and quite frankly, like a joke. What had once been my passion slowly turned into the part of the day I dreaded.

It makes me sad and a little bit teary as I think about it. To be repulsed by something you once loved... Isn't that sad?

Anyways, things got bad enough that I convinced my mom to move me to the lower level classes with my friends. Things weren't quite the same and I managed to make it through the year.

I did not sign up for classes the following "semester".

From then on I was a sort of recluse. Everything in my life felt like it had spilled over and was quickly draining away.

I removed myself from a majority of my friend groups, ignored invites, and felt saddened when I no longer received them -- and yet saw their fun sleepover pics on da 'gram.

I isolated myself due to the immense pain I felt, and from that phase forward, everything in life seemed 1000% harder. I now had this label called "Social Anxiety" and I feared everyone could see through the facade I put on to cover it up. So I did what I thought was best and I avoided every possible social outing.

(Or at least I tried.)

What was your journey like as you went from realizing your social anxiety to combatting it?

If I had to describe it in one word, I would say "rocky". Fighting anxiety is not an easy thing to do. Heck, fighting anything that terrifies you is hard! But just like with any fear, social anxiety is, in a sense, curable. You CAN fight it.

At first I did not want to. Because social situations are awkward and frightening. Hence the anxiety. But I was too scared to even think about the possibility that I could stop being scared.

It's taken me lots of trial and error (and not to mention a couple of tissue boxes) but somehow I've gotten to the point I am today. I am not anxiety free, but it seems as time goes on there are so many more Better days than there are Bad ones.

What are some of the things you struggle with during the day-to-day?

  • Ordering my food (whether it's fast food or sit down - fast food restaurants are harder because I hate the drive-thru and then I have to wait in line and scream my order over the loud music and the hassle of coupons... eek.)
  • Asking for help - in every situation, whether it be at a store, school, or even in a friend group.
  • Meeting new people - I don't mind small talk, but I will 99/100 times never initiate it. So when I'm meeting new people, I generally rely on them to ask all the questions, and if I'm brave, I'll ask some reciprocal questions... I'm working on it. :)
  • Big groups - In the mornings from Monday to Thursday I attended morning classes that surrounded me with people. And even though there wasn't any chatter or true conversation, there is always the fact that the teacher could *gulp* call on you. Or if I'm at a party ('cause, you know me, BIG party gal. My bed, a book, and some pizza. #turnup) I stick to the walls or I hang onto whoever it is I feel most comfortable with (@ lil' sis).
  • Attractive humans - am I the only one who says stupid things around pretty people?
  • BLUSHING - It is my weakness. Whenever I get flustered, embarrassed, or my brain starts escalating down the railroad track to Fantasy Land, my face turns bright red.
  • Sweating, rapid heartbeat, stammering, feet get all trippy, shaking.

What are some common thoughts that play through your head when your anxiety is elevated?

I'm going to do something stupid.

What if I just tripped and fell and broke my face and every one laughed at me?

Is my face all red? If so, how bad? Can they tell?

I can't find this thing but I am going to pretend I have everything I need so that employee over there won't come up and try to help me.


I'm not going. Not because I don't want to, but because it's a big hassle, there will be people there that I don't know, and I'll say something stupid. OR they'll play icebreaker games and I'll have to hide in the bathroom for twenty minutes and run the risk of everyone thinking I was pooping the entire time.

* Okay, this one is a bit of a joke.

What are some tips on how those with social anxiety can beat their anxiety?

Honestly, I don't know if I'm entirely equipped to answer this question. Yes, I have my experience but sometimes my anxiety is still really bad and it feels like I haven't made any progress. I guess that's the thing about fighting it.

At some point, you have to come to the realization that not everything you fear is worth being scared of. Everytime you feel anxious or slip up, it doesn't mean your progress is erased. This isn't a FNaF game. This is real life.

If you feel the same way, I'd like to encourage you by saying each day is a step forward. Even if you feel like you're sliding backward.


Because when you make it through another day, you conquered something. Even if that something was as simple as getting out of bed or putting fuzzy socks on.

(But if that's not quite enough, here are some things that have helped me:)

  • Exercising (almost) daily - yoga is my favorite form of exercise, but Just Dance and walking the dog are just as valid Get Your Blood Movin'... movements. ;)
  • Journaling - in 2014 I kept all my depressing journal entries and smacked them together to form the phase in my life titled -- wait for it -- This is How to Be Forgotten. Can you tell what kind of mood I was in that day? But honestly, this has really helped me reflect and express the mangled pieces of myself that I can't quite communicate verbally or at least to another human being in a way that makes sense.
  • Blogging - There was a reason I stepped into blogging and that is because of everything that was going on in my life. I started this blog with the intention of pouring my heart out, writing, and pursuing my Self, and though I have lost track of this goal, I am thankful to still be pursuing it for almost six years now! (Self Known's blog anniversary is this month if I am not mistaken...)
  • Doing what you don't want to do - Like right now, for instance, I have to go pick up a couple of burrito bowls for my family, and I would rather not do that. But I've got hungry mouths to feed! Wish me luck! (/o_o)/

Do you have any more questions for me?

If so, please don't hesitate to ask. If they're personal, feel free to email me or reach out on social. I love hearing from you and helping in any way that I can.

Also, thank you for taking the time to read this. My heart blossoms with gratitude to know that someone took the time out of their busy day to sit down and peek into my life.

Stay awesome.

xx Rosie

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