Things Not to Say to Someone with Social Anxiety

Social anxiety really sucks. As someone who has it, I know that it can really mess with you. Personally, I always feel like someone is judging me negatively, and I’m always scared to do new things because of that. However, there are some things that make me feel worse about my social anxiety, so I’m going to write about them in my fifth post of my “Things Not to Say” series.

  • “Why are you so quiet?”: Great, now there’s pressure on me to no longer be quiet. The thing is, I’m usually pretty quiet because I’m scared that people won’t respect or will make fun of what I have to say. Now that you’ve asked me why I’m so quiet, however, I’m scared that I’ll be judged both if I say something and if I stay quiet, so my anxiety levels are skyrocketing.
  • “Just get over it”: The problem is, it’s really hard to get over it in a second. It takes me forever to get the courage to go out with people, so how do you expect me to “get over it”?
  • “Have a drink, it’ll loosen you up”: It doesn’t actually work that way. First of all, people with social anxiety have a higher risk of developing substance abuse, and we don’t want that. Second, as somebody who has drunk in settings where my social anxiety was flaring up (a club in Italy and Kiele Woche in Germany) I can tell you that the drink doesn’t help. Both times I had had enough to drink that I should have been at least buzzed, but I was still in the corner with my arms crossed completely freaking out.
  • “I’m shy too”: There’s a difference between shyness and social anxiety. It’s natural to feel a little shy and reserved when you’re meeting someone new, in a new setting, or giving an important speech. With social anxiety, however, those butterflies are amplified and can be crippling. If you want an example, I once sent someone a friend request on Facebook and had a panic attack. That’s more along the lines of social anxiety than feeling nervous on a first date or something.

If there’s anything I’ve missed (and I’m sure there’s something) feel free to comment!

-cmblanc

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