Anxious Mess: Thoughts of Someone with Social Anxiety

personI often think of what it would be like if I went to a party like a lot of young adults my age do.

In every scenario I can imagine in my head, I see myself crying in the corner, hands covering my ears because it was too loud in the house where the party was taking place. I see myself having panic attack after panic attack because there are people I don’t know, and my social anxiety can be crippling if I am not used to a situation.

Most people don’t really think I have any real social anxiety. I’ve had people tell me “You are so social. How can you possibly have social anxiety?” I suppose that is because I don’t really go to new places alone, and people don’t get to see me try tons of new things. I’m always at a familiar place with familiar faces that I know and feel comfortable around. It hurts me when people say the things they do. There are lots of people who are social but have social anxiety. I am simply good at hiding my anxiety at this point in my life. However, a person telling me I can’t possibly be socially anxious makes me upset, but also angry and annoyed.

People keep urging me to go new places and try new things. And I’m trying. I really am trying so hard. But I am scared to death of “new.”

What if I have a meltdown in public? What if I fall to the floor screaming because I am terrified of my surroundings? And walking in the city? Any city? Never, not me. What if someone talks to me on the street that I don’t know and something bad happens?

These are just a few of the questions that go through my head when thinking about going to experience new places and meet new people. The scenes that play out in my head are one of a horror movie in which a young girl finds herself bombarded with scary people who don’t understand. A movie where a young girl is hated by a whole new group of people.

Next time you think someone doesn’t have social anxiety, you may want to reconsider. Everyone has demons. Everyone has something that terrifies them. And for me, it’s social interaction, among others, and it’s real.

By: Rachel LaBrie

Rachel is a young adult who hopes to someday be a peer mentor or a peer specialist.  They are currently working on writing and publishing a book of poetry.