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The Many Faces of Social Anxiety

Yes. Yes. Yes. You guessed it. One of my favorite topics to talk about. Anxiety!

But we aren't just talking about regular old anxiety today. This lovely gem comes in all shapes and sizes and has a wonderful way of making you look awkward AF. Meet a dear friend of mine, social anxiety. 

Maybe you know someone who struggles with social anxiety, or maybe it affects you personally. Welcome to the club, I literally made shirts!

Growing up I had some rather charismatic friends. They were always the life of the party and were never short on social invitations. I envied their ability to just fit in. To walk into a room full of people and instantly make friends. We all know people like this. Socializing is second nature to them. Conversations just flow and the idea of going to a party stimulates them.

I am NOT that person.

The thought of being dropped into a new social setting terrifies me and conversations do not just flow naturally. I am the queen of awkward pauses. Truly, it’s a gift. 

But social anxiety can so often be misunderstood. It can be mistaken for rudeness, lack or reliability or disengagement. However, that is not always the case. Here is a list of some of the things social anxiety can look like.

  • Canceling plans last minute. Don’t take it personally if someone with social anxiety cancels on you last minute. Chances are they are probably suffering severe anxiety and want to avoid the situation entirely. 

  • Drinking more than normal. Alcohol can seem like your best friend when it comes to social anxiety. It lowers your inhibitions and quiets that pesky voice in your head that would normally have you freaking out. It’s like a magic socialite serum, but it can easily turn into a crutch so be careful.

  • Avoiding eye contact. Ever catch someone dodging your glances to no end? No, it’s not because you're ugly or you have food on your face. They just don't want to get caught in an uncomfortable conversation with a stranger that is going to leave their palms sweating and head spinning.

  • Trouble responding to emails or text messages. It sounds like such a simple task, but I promise you it can be a serious struggle to someone with social anxiety. Overthinking in this case can cause us to shut down entirely.

  • Struggling to keep a conversation going. Oh my gosh! I get anxiety just thinking about this. For those who find themselves with the gift of naturally being able to talk to anyone about anything, congratulations. The casual act of making small talk can be one of the most uncomfortable things for a person with social anxiety. 

  • Appearing uninterested. Again, don’t take it personally if you are talking to someone with social anxiety and they appear uninterested. If they are anything like me, they are struggling to comprehend what you are saying because they are having a small panic attack in their own head trying to think of something relevant to say next. [Insert awkward pause]

  • Avoiding phone calls. Thankfully we live in a time where phone calls can be somewhat of a rare occurrence but in the off chance that we actually have to make one, they can be quite stressful. Especially if you're not super comfortable with the person calling. Anyone else avoid calling customer service at all costs?

  • Singling someone out and becoming a stage five clinger. For many, social anxiety is made worse in larger groups. It is far more comforting to find one or two people you are comfortable with and hang on for dear life, rather than trying to make the rounds at a party. And yes, we will panic if you leave us to go to the restroom for five minutes. Don’t be surprised when we are anxiously scrolling through the apps on our phone pretending to look busy when you return. 

  • Physical sweating. Not really all that surprising but it happens and it's always at the worst time. Like a job interview! Talk about a way to impress a future employer. I highly recommend wearing light layers.

As you can see, social anxiety is more than just hiding at home and avoiding contact with other people. There are an endless number of other ways in which social anxiety appears but these are some of the ones I deal with the most. 

Frankly, anxiety sucks! And social anxiety makes life seem a lot harder sometimes. Do I wish I shared the charismatic gift of many of my friends? Absolutely. But I don't. I will probably always have anxiety in social situations but I have learned to love the awkward pauses in conversations rather than feel embarrassed about them. So much so I made a line of tees and sweatshirts for those of us that just want to tell the world we are socially awkward. 

We didn't get to pick the color of hair we were born with just like we didn't get to pick our personality traits. So we might as well love what we've got, right?! (I know, I know, easier said than done).

Anyways, I’ll leave you with that for now. 

As always, I love hearing from you guys. Comment below and share what social anxiety looks like for you. 

Until next week! XO

Disclaimer: Please note, all information on The Cheeky Life is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for professional care. The intention of this blog is to connect with the community and share my personal experiences with mental health, eating disorders, and life in general. All opinions are my own.

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