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The Struggle of Social Anxiety

April 4, 2016 0 Comments

Woah, okay.

You didn’t tell me you were getting all hot and stuff to read this or else I would have put a little more effort in my sweatpants and t-shirt.

Thanks a lot.

Regardless of how attractive you are, I am so glad you are here and I hope that your weekend contained at least one moment of healthy laughter with the ones you love.


So this one time, I was invited to a get-together that included a group of lovelies from my church.

Throughout the week following up to it, I was mentally preparing for the event. I was picturing what it would look like with me walking into the community room of the church and hanging out with my homies. My outfit was already in mind and I was trying my best to hype myself up for the occasion.

Friday night came along. I drove to the church, running a bit late, but my tardiness was on purpose because that way, there would be more of a guarantee that my closer friends would already be there for me to gravitate towards. I didn’t even want to risk being the first person there to be stuck talking to someone I didn’t know as well and figuring out topics I wasn’t prepared with beforehand.

I pulled into the dark parking lot and called my girl Kristi to see where I was supposed to go. I know the layout of the church but it was odd because all of the lights were off.

“Karlye, you’re at the church?! Oh no! It’s not at the church!”

Apparently, I had read the invite incorrectly, meaning I didn’t really read it at all. I only assumed that it would be at the church.

“Well how far is the actual gathering?” I asked while parked in the pitch black lot.

“It’s about 25 minutes from the church. Please still come!”

She sent me the address and I sat there contemplating. I had all week devoted to mentally planning for this evening, but those plans went with the building, so what was I supposed to do now that it wasn’t even there? How can I mentally prepare a week’s worth of thoughts in a 25-minute drive?

My mind answered, You can’t prepare.

So instead of driving to the party to hang out and get to know other awesome people that are a part of my church community, I decided to drive all the way back home, leaving Kristi with a “Sorry, I’m just so exhausted anyway, so I think I’ll go home” text.

I got home, changed immediately back to my sweat pants and spent the rest of the evening alone in my room: a place I always know will be the same.

What a Friday.


 Social anxiety is a thing. I’ve heard many people talk about it like it’s a cute and unique thing, but I personally believe it’s not cute at all.

I don’t believe that it goes well with our outfits or our personalities.

If anything, it hinders everything.

According to sources in case you aren’t fully aware of this disorder:

Social anxiety is the anxiety towards social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people.  It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety in most all areas of a person’s life.

This mental health disorder is the third largest disorder in the world, and with the assistance of the constant ability of gluing our eyes to LED screens when feeling awkward instead of talking to anyone around us or taking in the scenery or JUST BEING PRESENT (okay sort of a rant, sorry), this disorder is not going away soon.

I never knew that I really had a social disorder. I honestly just let myself believe that I was only any sort of cooler when people got to know me more, but I was just boring in group settings with people I don’t know. Even during my short period of being a “crazy drinker/partier” in high school, I was always the wallflower sipping on whatever cheap vodka was available mixed with whatever cheap juice was available. I never met anyone new, I never performed on my own accord, and I certainly was not going to risk leaving the comfort of a wall no matter how intoxicated I got.

The older I’ve gotten, I have learned that there has been an issue because the issue has gotten worse. My little story I just mentioned is only one of many times I have given in to the demon of social anxiety and ended up alone in my bedroom reading or sleeping. I can’t even count how many nights I’ve spent alone while ignoring texts from people asking me to hang out.

Of course I wanted to hang out. I wanted to have fun. I want to have fun now, but over the years, I have depended on my inner planner to get me ready for the fun. Having the fun unveil itself to me without my knowing was/is at times now unacceptable.

For instance, if someone invites me somewhere, I will usually ask who all will be there (and I mean I will ask for every person’s name and how/if I know them), what that person is wearing at said event, how long the event will last, what all of the details are for the event (like what is the subject matter/order of subject matter), and is the event far enough in advance that I can make sure I’m ready; however, it cannot be too far in advance because I will be too anxious as to scheduling something too soon when something else could come up (that’s called a commitment issue though, so that can be another post).

Basically, this disorder is real in my life, and I want to share with you this part of me because I want to recognize it as a struggle and not as what my identity is.

I also say this in case you need that reminder too. Social anxiety is not who you are at all. It’s just something that wants to you to miss out on really cool opportunities for your identity to grow.

I was reading more on social anxiety and I actually felt so much better about the situation. Seeing symptoms and insight sort of helped me see that I am not the only one and yes, this crap sucks.

But what’s even cooler, I found this:

Having social anxiety prevents people from being able to do the things they want to do.  Although people with social anxiety want to be friendly, open, and sociable, it is fear that holds them back.

I don’t think you saw what was cool about this. Let me copy and paste it again with minor changes:

Having social anxiety prevents people from being able to do the things they want to do.  Although people with social anxiety want to be friendly, open, and sociable, it is fear that holds them back.

FEAR

So our little anxious family is not uncool or boring or awkward. We are actually awesome! It’s FEAR holding us back!

Social anxiety isn’t the demon. It’s just another name for fear!

It’s like that old Nickelodeon commercial that talked about all of the different names for sugar: “Glucose, Dextrose, anything that rhymes with ‘gross’!”

I’m saying it’s just fear with a mask on that sounds more terrifying that the one-syllable name it was given originally. All fear did was change its wardrobe and started wearing glasses and we have allowed access for it to get in our heads again!

We were stooped, but not anymore.

Fear is nothing. Conquering fear is no trouble because if we feel as if we can’t conquer it, it’s because we are still holding onto fear, and that’s our fault. We obviously weren’t even trying to conquer it in the first place.

So just kick fear’s butt and its new glasses.


 With that said, there will be times we cannot overcome this on our own, however. Social anxiety disorder is a chronic disorder, so it cannot just heal itself (because it’s just fear).

We have to be proactive about this change.

So if you haven’t really talked about it with your closest friends, I suggest you do so. I have the greatest friends in the world who know this nature about me and will drag me to whatever destination fear is trying to block me from.

It doesn’t matter how big that fear is. My friends will push-kick through it to get me to new and great opportunities that will allow my inner soul to grow and love the world and its mysteries.

If you don’t feel like your friends will do that for you, get new friends.

I’ll be that friend for you. We can hold each other accountable in that.

Heck, my friends will be that friend for you too. Just join our super awesome gang that has no initiation process. Everyone is invited.

If this anxiety has submerged you more than even me, maybe professional help is up your alley, and that is just fine.

Everyone needs counseling, and this fear had a root, and it’s always important to know what that root is so that can be what’s removed instead of just trimming the weed.

So in conclusion, there’s no excuse as to why we are still struggling with this right now.

So let’s go. LET’S GO.

Let’s get up and say, “Yes” to more opportunities that are last minute, at places we aren’t knowledgeable of, or with people we don’t know fully well.

Let’s just go.

Because we have to push ourselves through those walls to see the outside. We’ll never get to say we appreciated the garden we were planted in if we decided to just stay in the greenhouse.

Let’s go. To Hell with fear and its attempt to change its name to fool us!

Love you guys.

Karlye

sunflower

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