An insight into social anxiety

Social anxiety is something that is very common and even I struggled with social anxiety in my early childhood. However, it was something I gradually overcame over time. I wanted to therefore write this blog post to talk a bit more about social anxiety and ways to overcome it.

In a nutshell, social anxiety relates to a fear of certain social situations. People with social anxiety generally struggle with starting conversations, making eye contact with others and speaking in public, although everyone gets affected differently. One big reason why people with social anxiety dread certain situations is the fear of being embarrassed or judged by others. There are also more subtle signs of social anxiety which isn’t always noticed, such as regularly cancelling social plans.

There are a few misconceptions of social anxiety which I wanted to address. The first one I wanted to address is that people think social anxiety is one of those problems that you have to learn to live with forever if you have it, and that there is no way to tackle it. Social anxiety is something that affects people differently, for some people it is very mild and they function well in general, whereas for others social anxiety gets in the way of them leaving the house. However, no matter how social anxiety affects you, there are still ways to tackle it so that you can live your best life, and solutions include medication and CBT.

Another massive misconception about social anxiety is that social anxiety and shyness are often considered as the same thing. Although social anxiety and shyness are very similar, they are not the same thing. Social anxiety involves feelings of fear of social situations, but it does not always involve the avoidance of these situations. Some people may appear to be very outgoing, but are simply very good at hiding their feelings. On the other hand, those who are shy tend to avoid social contact because of feelings of social anxiety. In summary, people who are shy experience social anxiety, but those with social anxiety may not always act shy.

Although I wasn’t diagnosed with social anxiety, I was diagnosed with autism and I struggled with social anxiety as a result in my early childhood. Generally, I found starting and maintaining conversations with people at school and outside of school very hard. I also struggled in large group settings and often found them overwhelming. One thing I remember was that I knew that social anxiety was a problem at the time. However, the frustrating aspect was that because there were so many barriers into overcoming social anxiety, there wasn’t a hard and fast solution that would give immediate results. Furthermore, the confidence dent that came with having social anxiety had a knock-on affect into other aspects of my life, especially academics.

I can certainly say from drawing on my experiences is that although you may not be able to completely eliminate social anxiety, you can take steps to reduce it. The main thing that helped me was to take time to understand my social anxiety and think about what makes me anxious, as well as what goes through my mind when I get anxious. Once I did that then I was able to work on it. For example, one thing that gave me anxious thoughts was the fear of being judged when talking to people. After I admitted to myself that it was something that gave me anxious thoughts, I was then able to reflect on whether my feelings were rational. Sometimes they were, but most of the time they weren’t so I knew I had to take steps in order to make sure I was less worried about being judged when talking to people. Overcoming social anxiety is a slow process and change doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to recognise this and be patient.

Have you ever struggled with social anxiety? If so, how did you go about overcoming it? Comment on the comment section below!

32 thoughts on “An insight into social anxiety

  1. Boy oh, boy – you hit the nail right on the head here. Becoming confident in your decisions regarding yourself is a key coping mechanism. I understand myself a bit better these days and so I am less hung up on saying no to attending certain situations. I keep reminding myself, that ‘s how it is, and that’s okay. It’s interesting, because I have had to spend many years in the spotlight, so to speak, despite this.

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  2. This was me as a child. I wouldn’t talk to most people and would even shy away from visiting family. I changed as I grew older and am far more confident although I don’t like crowds or what I feel is excessive numbers of people.

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  3. This is a good insight into social anxiety, I think it is often hard to know what something is like unless you have felt it yourself however I think this will help people trying to understand.

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    1. You make a good point, unless you can relate to it it’s hard to understand what it is like especially as a lot of effects of social anxiety are ones you can’t see from the outside

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  4. This is really helpful and a great way of explaining social anxiety. I’ve never suffered but I can only begin to imagine how hard it can be.

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    1. I agree that social anxiety can be talked about a lot more ! I think it is important to realise that social anxiety is common so you are far from alone if you do struggle from it. Thanks for commenting!

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  5. I was diagnosed with social anxiety and generalised anxiety disorder and struggle with it often. I can’t cope with eye contact and I get flustered talking to people. Even people I have spoken to a million times, like my fiancé’s family for example. I still haven’t really found a way to overcome it, but I’m glad that you are able to!

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  6. This just goes to show that we must not be quick to judge others because we have no idea what they are going through. I was about to go that route, of having social anxiety but thankfully, I was able to pull myself out. It was a difficult journey, but I am thankful for the support of my family.

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    1. Absolutely agree, we don’t know the battles that someone is fighting inside, so we should never judge someone without knowing the full picture. I am glad you were able to pull yourself out, and thanks for commenting!

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  7. I loved this post. Especially coz you explain this so well (also with your example). I do know someone who has been diagnosed with autism recently, very young which is why i’ve been drawn to the topic of social anxiety. Your post provides good perspective.

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  8. I relate a lot to this post – I used to really struggle with social anxiety for many years and it got particularly bad during my first year of university. I would also worry about what people thought of me and I found it difficult speaking up in front of groups of people, even if it was a small seminar group. Like you mentioned, CBT was really helpful for me. Once I began to reframe my anxious thoughts I was able to think more positively and realistically about the situations I was in. There are still moments I feel anxious in now, but I am much better equipped at dealing with them and it is true that the more you do something, the easier it becomes 😊

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  9. Thank you for sharing your experience about social anxiety and I am sure by sharing your experiences, you are actually helping so many out there who are lost and struggling to cope themselves

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