Dealing with people can be unconditionally terrifying. Social rules differ based on cultural context, evolve throughout time, and can absolutely confuse all of us because what works for one person doesn’t work for the other. Our increasingly digitalized world does not necessarily require in-person contact and it’s no shocker that social anxiety is becoming more prevalent as a result.
Some people might have a mild form of this disorder, others fear any kind of social interaction. As someone who has faced and continues to face social anxiety, I fight it in a number of different ways.
1.Walk into the fire
In the literal sense, walking into fire is something that highly skilled performers might successfully do. For those of us who feel uncomfortable socializing with groups of five or more, our blood pressure may unsafely go up as a result. Talking to groups of unknown people has the potential to turn into social tragedy. Thoughts include: “What is there to talk about when we have nothing in common? Will they even accept my presence?” The fear or doubt might be just as strong for an inexperienced performer who walks into the fire the wrong way. As a result of their mistakes, they might become scarred for a long period of time. Coming across some harsh critics can scar us in different ways, causing us to reevaluate our selves.
The longer this nineteen-year-old woman hid inside her room, the more she began to feel weird interacting with people from the outside that she would likely never see more than once. The young woman absolutely hated buying food, CDs, clothes, or anything really. She forced herself to complete this “task.” Retail employees were commonly trained to initiate small talk with their customers to the discomfort of some people. In separate occasions, awkward moments were exchanged with the socially anxious teen. They would often ask her to repeat whatever shaky words were murmured. When it came time to pay the cash would often get stuck in those sweaty palms of hers. After repeating this smaller task on numerous different occasions, interacting with employees became less horrifying.
The most boring protagonists are the ones who barely if ever fail. They are always morally right and aren’t impacted by their weaknesses. Audiences commonly root for the anti-heroes or villains because they are much more relatable and interesting. When you begin to fight your weaknesses, there will be times when you will literally and metaphorically trip in front of the whole world to see. On the plus side, you can experience some decent character development. In the 60s, one young man almost fell to his death in New York City because he didn’t master his web shooting. Spider-Man’s massive popularity stemmed from his relatability despite being a fictional character. He sometimes failed miserably in his heroism and social life (Mary Jane dumped him on more than one occasion).
In the past, social anxiety possibly caused us to butcher the art of properly speaking. The previously mentioned socially awkward teen signed up for a required college course called Speech 101. As revealed by video recordings, she would always move one of her arms back and forth like a cuckoo clock’s pendulum. One day, the student mistakenly believed their next speech was scheduled for another day. After finishing the illegible impromptu speech, she dramatically left the room. This failed assignment did not matter a few years after. In fact, the nonsensible assignment ended up getting a passing grade.
3.Not everyone will like you
Self-help authors can give their readers some decent advice on how to improve their social skills. Quite commonly, people with social anxiety experience loneliness or feelings of rejection from others who are better versed in social dynamics. The rules of how to garner charisma is vast. We can try to smile more when we finally meet a new acquaintance or help others when they need a listening ear. Sometimes everything is done by the book and yet a friendship can take a turn for the worse. Because of the unique complexity of each situation, discovering who has the moral high ground can take up quite a long time.
Our main character’s social anxiety had noticeably weakened throughout the years. Not long after graduating from college, she decided to join a social club for young adults. In the beginning, some new friendships began. After some time passed, these connections faded. She attempted to be nice and there were no clear answers behind the relationships’ degradation. Such of a situation is a nightmare for those with social anxiety through the use of self-blame and the blaming of others. The inner critic was very active in telling her that the fault was all hers. But was it? Quite possibly, it could have been a case involving mismatched chemistry. Sometimes people just don’t click because their personalities differ a lot and that’s okay.
4.People will judge you harshly
As revealed through reliable textbooks, judgement helps us stay away from danger. When some buff man is holding a butcher knife and he’s heading in your direction, walking in the opposite way might be a good option. For the socially anxious, judgment is applying in order to figure out if someone is accepting of their presence. Body language, tone, and general actions are looked at in order to decipher any hidden meanings, if any exist of course. But eventually repeating this kind of behavior leads to paranoia and self-hurt. No judgement should be considered final. Everyone should be given more than one chance because ultimately, judgement can greatly hurt others. It is unfair.
An outsider looking at someone’s life with only a glimpse cannot fairly assess someone’s personality because they are supposedly talented at observing human behavior. The person on the bus showcasing her dirty looks to a fellow passenger is not doing so out of disgust for the person next to her, but instead, she is devastated for failing the most recent college exam. Those with social anxiety can be interpreted as stuck up or disinterested by others because of their more distant behavior. It is especially a discouragement if the one with social anxiety is looking to make friends.
Social anxiety is felt at least a few times by virtually everyone on Earth. In fact, anti-colonial activist and lawyer Mahatma Ghandi suffered from this disorder. He would eventually talk to humongous crowds in India. The anxiety can become unbearable at times, but remember that there are so many ways to fight SA or at least minimize it. Some baby steps need to be taken in the beginning, but progress is progress. Keep on swimming.