Living with anxiety in a world full of social butterflies

Social anxiety is a challenge to live with, and it’s even more difficult to try and explain how you are feeling to someone, especially an extrovert. The struggle between wanting to spend time with family and friends and be alone in the comfort of my own home is one I deal with every day. Making plans, going out to dinner, or grabbing drinks sounds like a great time…until it’s actually time to go.

That’s when my mind starts racing wondering…Who will be there? What will the atmosphere be like? Will it be too loud? Too hot? Too cold? Is what I’m wearing okay? Who will I know there that I can talk to? What kinds of small talk should I try to come up with?

It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to the point that I’m tired even thinking about making plans so I just don’t. I’m perfectly content to stay at home and read or watch TV. But sometimes social situations aren’t always unavoidable.

That’s when the anxiety hits and my chest constricts, my heart races and my breathing becomes more rapid. I usually make it through the event without any major panic attacks, but once I’m back home, that’s when the real anxiety sets in — you know what I’m talking about. The million questions that fly through my head, the ones that keep me up at night.

Did I say something stupid? Did I offend someone with my joke? Did they think my joke was even funny? Did I talk too much? Did I not talk enough? Did I ask too many questions? Did I not ask enough questions? Do the people there like me? Will they want to hang out with me again? Am I someone people want to be around? Did I do okay? Am I okay?

I used to feel like I was the only one who would have these thoughts after a social gathering. I know now that I am not. However, most people in my life are extroverts and thrive in the company of others. It’s hard for me to fit it and feel like I belong when the majority of the time social situations stress me out more than I can express.

I know what helps me most is scheduling downtime. When I know I have a busy week or weekend ahead of me, I block off one (two if I can) nights where I plan to do nothing but be at home. What helps you?

If you struggle with social anxiety or anxiety in general, share with us below what tips have you learned over the years. We’d love to know!

Please remember that you are not alone, and if you or someone you know is in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to talk 24/7/365 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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