So Apparently I Have Social Anxiety - Now What?

So apparently I have social anxiety. Which was a bit of a surprise to me actually. Because I genuinely like people. Not that those with social anxiety don't, but again, I was pretty inaccurate about my understanding of the condition. 

I have sung an original song on the piano in church. (Many, many years ago mind you.) But someone with social anxiety wouldn't do that, right? 

I have taught classes. (Same concept). 

I have spoken in front of people at book signings. (Not that many of these either.) But, again, that doesn't sound like social anxiety. 

Yet my therapist told me this week she thinks I have it. 

Ok, yes. I have a therapist. That's not exactly something I want to shout from the rooftops, and yet still here I am shouting it from my Chromebook. Why? Because it's OK to not be OK sometimes. 

A fresh perspective is good. Meaningful insight. A nurse practitioner for the mind/emotions so to say. 

Anyway, I got off topic. If you are surprised or disappointed that I'm seeing a therapist, well, so be it. That's the part of social anxiety I'm trying to work on anyway. Other's opinions of me. 

You see, I always thought I was just an introvert. Quiet. Reflective. Prefer solitude. Crowds drain me. And while on some level I think I am, in fact, an introvert that does not predispose me to be socially anxious. 

So after the possible bomb drop of this opinion led me to investigate further. This is what I found. 

The Difference Between Being An Introvert and Socially Anxious

  • You were born with the traits that make up being an introvert. It is biology. 

  • Social anxiety is a learned behavior based on a variety of factors or experiences.

  • An introvert is not afraid of social settings. They just need time afterward to recharge and reflect. 

  • The socially anxious will avoid social settings to avoid feeling inferior or incompetent or judged. 

  • An introvert is comfortable with who they are. 

  • Social anxiety robs an individual of ever feeling complete, good enough, or worthy. 

The Traits Of Social Anxiety

The overwhelming common thread of those with social anxiety is the fear of not measuring up. Being self-conscious about almost every aspect of themselves. They are constantly on the lookout for subtle or perceived judgments. 

Socially anxious people will be the first to leave a meeting to avoid small talk. Will back out at the last minute to social gatherings. If they do attend a party or function they do their best to fade into the background so as to avoid being drawn into a conversation where they may reveal a flaw or inadequacy. Every interaction (and subsequent action) is driven by fear. 

On a positive note, they are highly intuitive people who pick up on the feelings and emotions of others easily. They like to fix things. Solve problems. Make people happy. But sometimes at the expense of their own. 

What Causes Social Anxiety

Well, this is a little trickier to pin down. 

It has its roots in feeling inferior, but many things in life can create that misconception in someone's mind. 

One is a series of distressing events in childhood. Being teased or bullied for being different. Being excluded from groups. 

Having overprotective parents can also contribute. Or parents who were highly critical and difficult to please. 

There can be some biological factors as well with neurotransmitters. (Don't ask me to explain that please.)


Where Does That Put Me

Well based on my research, I do believe I have at least some social anxiety. I also believe I'm an introvert. This combination does not always allow me to thrive outside in the world. 

I really have no idea what may have caused mine. I am certainly not contributing it to my parents. And everyone has experiences of being made fun of, singled out, or excluded. Maybe I didn't adjust as well as others. 

The one thing I do know is that I want to work on it. I'm OK with the introvert part. That's a good thing I suppose since I probably can't 'fix' that anyway. But