"Do I Have Social Anxiety?"

by Jennifer Fowler

Often, I feel my journey to success is strewn with dozens of landmines that explode into deterrents like insecurity, anxiety and self-doubt.
It seems to burden me the most that I’ve placed the majority of the landmines myself. It’s easy for me to become clouded by the hindrances of my mind, most notably, social anxiety.

  • Fear of being in a room of people who aren’t too fond of you. 
  • Fear of standing in a crowded party when you’re not comfortable dancing.
  • Fear of being seen as annoying or bothersome by the people you idolize.
  • Fear of speaking up in a class you truly don’t understand.
  • Fear of being proactive in your academic career, because you’re worried about who’s worried about you.

It’s truly mentally and emotionally taxing. To feel you can’t reach your full potential because you’re always straining your neck to see who’s watching/judging/validating you.
The simple solution is to isolate yourself, so you can never face judgement, positive or negative. Drawing further into yourself, spending more time at home, walking different directions on campus. It becomes comfortable; no one can hurt you if you don’t give them an opportunity. You become associated with ugly words like standoffish, distant, anti-social. 
But you know that’s not you. 

When you wake up in the morning, you don’t dedicate yourself to being aloof and unfriendly. People can just be terrifying. Situations you can’t control can be terrifying. Your friends ask you to come out to events, but they know you won’t make it, so they prepare themselves for disappointment. You’ve become a friend that’s undependable. They tell you you used to be more of a lively spirit, and you shrug your shoulders and mutter that people change.
You let opportunities flutter past your fingers because you’re too scared to be uncomfortable for a moment. You can’t bear the thought of wading through dark waters. But you’re a hypocrite because you brand yourself on being ambitious. It doesn’t help that social media sites encourage the idea of social isolation. Posts that make light of subjects like social isolation and depression rack up thousands of notes on websites like Tumblr.

While they might be funny and consoling at first, this culture of self-deprecation contributes to a larger problem of social anxiety and depression. Addressing anxiety can be unnerving. Acknowledging the cracks in your own foundation is difficult and painful. But it’s necessary for self-exploration and growth. It’s important to know that your journey to success will be filled with more opportunities than obstacles.

The only true barrier is you and the fear you’ve been feeding yourself. Don’t wait for people to tell you when to capitalize on your potential, or let experiences run away because you’re scared of judgement.

Swallow your fear, your pride, your doubts, and go. Success won’t find you, you must pursue success.

LiveKaren Spears