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This is just a brief post about what for me having social anxiety is like.
Social anxiety doesn’t just mean one is anxious in situations that are deemed social, for example a party. Or being anxious in large groups. For some it does mean this, as social anxiety can come in different intensities and different severities.
For me it is being anxious with all interactions with others all the time.
An intense and chronic fear of being judged by others is how I would best describe it.
Others can refer to my partner, friends, acquaintances or strangers. It doesn’t matter whether I know the person very well or not at all. I am terrified of being judged, of doing the wrong thing, of embarrassing myself, of looking like an idiot, that others will laugh at me.
It isn’t just a little fear or brief anxiety, it is chronic severe anxiety that means so often I’d rather not speak due to my anxiety of being judged, than risk being judged.
I am terrified of being criticised or rejected by what i say, or do, or how I look.
Constantly in my head everything i think of to say I immediately think of at least one reason why I shouldn’t say it.
So often I don’t say something even though I desperately want to because I am severely anxious of the response.
Even if the person or people I am talking to know me well and say they don’t judge me and even if some part of my brain believes that, my social anxiety is so much stronger. I cannot just switch it off and be free of the fear.
When I do talk I apologise after virtually everything I say and I know it can frustrate people, but my social anxiety convinces me I must have said something wrong or silly or upset someone. Or I’ve been known to message people hours later to apologise for talking as I’m suddenly terrified I talked too much and I freak out.
Not everyone with social anxiety is shy or an introvert and not everyone who is shy or an introvert has social anxiety.
My social anxiety tells me constantly that everyone is judging me for everything I do or say.