University can be difficult for someone with social anxiety. Some of these are based off the experiences of people I asked on the social anxiety support forum.
3) Being put into groups is stressful.
4) It’s unfair being made to do presentations when you have social anxiety.
This post will (hopefully) mark the first post I will make as part of the blog for mental health project:
I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
If you’d like to see what’s it about, check it out this post on A Canvas of the Minds.
What other troubling situations do you get at university? Any stories you’d like to share? Feel free to comment or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
Imagine that you’re someone who has spent weeks, months, years, trying to cope with social anxiety disorder. You take little baby steps, by challenging yourself to say “hi” to a stranger, or by going out to a bar for the first time.
But then you open the Pandora’s Box that is Facebook, and you see people far ahead of you. There’s the girl who keeps clubbing every week. Sam, who posts statuses that always get over 100 likes – how? Oh, and Susie, that girl you had to add for a group assignment that seems to magically be friends with everyone in the course.
Then comes the bitterness, envy, and low self esteem. It’s easy to break down when you feel like social anxiety has made you enter late into the game. I get FOMO every week. I even checked it this morning, and got a huge pang of depression. But I’m fighting it.
Social media is extremely unrealistic. Where’s the platform dedicated to nights in? Bad days? When you feel insecure? During FOMO moments?
Social media stops you from looking at the bigger picture. It takes you away from your own journey, into the journey of negative comparisons.
Focus on each goal that you want to tackle with social anxiety, and screw everything else people are doing online. Take a breath. Step back. Be present. Limit how many times you check. And remind yourself that that these things are just numbers. They aren’t experiences. That time you spoke up for the first time in class? That’s an experience.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what they are doing. You matter. You can do this. If you feel like you’re making progress with social anxiety, ask yourself: “If I didn’t check Facebook, would I be happy with what I’ve done today?” The answer would probably be yes.
I’m probably missing some things here. What are your FOMO moments? What are things you do to combat FOMO?
Trying to get an internship, as a socially anxious student, is like a turtle desperately trying to rip off its shell. Just so it can pretend to be the gregarious lions job industries demand.
But there are ways that people can gently peel off the shell and tuck it away safely for a couple of hours. And they don’t have to grow manes either.
The dreaded cold call. The neglected email. The broken promise that “they’ll be in touch”. The awkward phone call. The checklist – “team worker, social, outgoing” – should I pretend that I’m outgoing?
These are a list of fears (and some realities) that come with the drudgery of finding internships and jobs while socially anxious, shy or introverted. Although shyness, social anxiety and introversion aren’t interchangeable terms, people with these traits experience similar problems when embarking on the job and internship hunt.
Susan Cain, author of ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts’, gives a couple of tips on how to network as an introverted person. I find that this helps, too, in keeping my social anxiety in check during professional settings. Take a look (tips begin around 10:20):
A noteworthy tip to take from this is “The Power Of One And Rule Of Thumb For Networking” – instead of feeling pressured to work the room, find people you think you’ll connect with. Even if it’s only one. Susan calls these “kindred spirits”. Change your perspective into making networking right for you.
In the next post, I’ll be writing other strategies on this topic.
See you next time,
It was 3am and I was stuck in a place I couldn’t get back home from, desperately trying to fall asleep. I tried to bury myself into an unfamiliar couch, away from my persistent anxiety. It didn’t help that alcohol was slushing around in my system, this alcohol I had taken to feel socially normal, this alcohol that was now making me feel nauseous. As soon as it would turn into daytime, I’d bail.
I was beginning to become disenfranchised with the drinking, partying university culture. I do enjoy going out for drinks every now and then. But, there was just a limit I could take before my social anxiety would be unbearable. And I realised – you know what? So what? This is who I am. I don’t have to push myself to get wasted every Friday night to try to fit in. And there are heaps of people who don’t. You just hear about the people who do.
You might also be finding it hard to fit in, especially with social anxiety.
Not liking drinking/clubbing is one of them, but there are other reasons, for example:
– Not having the same interests
– People being in cliques
– Finding college difficult
There are different ways to solve being alone at university.
Don’t let labels define you
I remember one time I was at a party, and a random stranger asked if they could kiss me. I said no because I wasn’t feeling like it, I had just been introduced to this person, and I really just wanted to talk to my friends. I remember the sting I felt when someone called me a “prude”. People often throw these labels around, but don’t let them control the way you behave. Because at the end of the day, we’re complex people. Not boxes full of derogatory stereotypes.
University is a huge place with a variety of people
I know this is cliché to say, but there are heaps of societies, sports and volunteer groups you could probably join at your university.
You can still be friends with people who like drinking or partying
Parties or clubs aren’t the only contexts you can enjoy their company with. Don’t be completely closed off to them.
You don’t have to make friends at university
There are still other places, especially when you get social anxiety in college. Things in your local area, classes, your old friends, you name it. Many people don’t have friends at university, and instead search for connections outside of it.
Give it some time and have realistic expectations!
Making friends can sometimes take many months. Temper your expectations so that you don’t over-pressure yourself into having good conversations just after a few times of meeting people. It often takes awhile to also find a group of people that you can get along with.
Remember to stay true to yourself (yes, cheesy, but true).
What are the things you’ve struggled with when settling into university? Were there any things that worked? Comment and let me know.
I’ve worked my butt off and animated a little intro video that gives a glimpse into what social anxiety is, and to give some inspiration to my fellow social anxiety/phobia sufferers. Check it out!
Comment below and let me know what you think.
“My hands were shaking. I was sweating so profusely, I could not move. I made it to my car and remember getting the keys in the ignition, cranking the car up, taking the back roads to my home and parking. I didn’t leave the house for six months.”
These are the words of Kim Basinger, an oscar award winning actress with social anxiety, agoraphobia and panic disorder. Surprising, huh?
Anxiety stops you from chasing your dreams. But she didn’t let that stop her. I want to share my experiences of social anxiety, the way it has interfered with my acting, and how I’ve tried to push past it. Ok, I’m no Kim Basinger, I know! But maybe it’ll inspire you to persevere through the fear and panic, the low self esteem, the anxiety, so you can do the same.
To read about it, check out my guest blog at Anxiety United, a social media network based on dealing with anxiety.
And happy world mental health day guys!
Till next time,
Posted by polarisabstract in Inspiration Tags: "social anxiety", anxiety, celebrities with social anxiety, coping, dreams, inspiration, kim basinger, low self esteem, resilience, world mental health day
The above image is what your mind imagines when you brace yourself for a social situation. Your brain likes to make your fears high risk. You tell yourself, “there’s a pretty high chance that after I do that presentation, people are going to remember me as that incompetent loser who can’t speak up”. Let’s say that your anxiety warps it into a 1 in 2 chance.
But we are going to defeat that possibility with a bit of multiplication.
Step one: Break it down into factors.
1) That a lack of preparation could sabotage you. Let’s say you did more than enough, though.
2) How much people will really remember – everyone is invested into their own lives: that uni party they’re missing, their families, the busy traffic, that train they will have to run for, and whatever else.
3) What are the chances that people will think less of you over a bad presentation? Outside of social anxiety, presentations can be stressful for many people. Most people would be understanding.
Step two: Estimate the probability of each factor
1) Well you did prepare, so the likelihood of sabotage is 1 in 100.
2) Everyone is selfish. Let’s face it. So they will probably forget. 1 in 100.
3) Chances that people will think less of you? Let’s place that at 1 in 50.
Step three: Multiply!
100 x 100 x 50 = 1 in 500 000 chance
Doesn’t seem so daunting now, right?
So when your social anxiety tries to find evidence of your screw ups, break it down with this more concrete, rational method. It really helps to separate yourself from your fear and panic.
Let me know – does this work for you in situations of anxiety and stress? Why/why not?
“You’re too sensitive.”
“Why do you always stay inside?”
“It’s just a small thing. You’re overreacting.”
“What, are you going to cry again?”
Imagine this situation. You’re at a party. You’re alone. Everyone else is in their tightly clamped circles. They’re smiling and laughing, mentioning names you don’t know and places you haven’t been. They’re better than you. Quickly, you try to walk up to some people. You try to start a conversation, and as you talk, your brain rips into you. The anxiety tells you’re awkward, you’re awkward and you’ll be alone tonight. They don’t like you. Why did you say that for? You messed up royally. If you just stayed at home, you’d be able to watch Friends repeats instead of being trapped here.
And it doesn’t stop there. You’ve noticed that instead of concentrating on university work, you’re fixated on all the other students. It takes you an extra three hours to complete a simple task. All you want to do is sleep.
People might dismiss you as being overly dramatic and weak on the outside, when you open up to them for help. But on the inside, you’re strong.
It takes a lot to deal with a relentless self critic every day. And there’s a reason the social anxiety is so potent: you just want to get better socially. In a way, it’s like fighting for something you care about. Channel all that energy into beating the anxiety, instead. If you’ve put up with social anxiety thus far, you’ll have the determination to overcome it. Are you going to keep putting up with the crap anxiety gives you?
You should give yourself some credit!
Posted by polarisabstract in Stigma Tags: "social anxiety", anxiety, fear and panic, fight, frustration, low self esteem, mental health month, mental health stigma, resilience, self critic, self-esteem, sensitive, shyness, social anxiety in university, social phobia, Stigma, stopthestigma, strength, weakness
We’re often taught to actively eliminate anxiety and fear. But that activates a never-ending internal battle. It makes you despise social anxiety and situations which induce it. A constant feeling of dread whenever you feel symptoms of social anxiety is counter-productive. Instead, learn to be comfortable with fear, panic and anxiety.
Check out this video to learn more:
Last week I had to promote and give flyers out to random people at my university. I’d never done it before, so it triggered my social anxiety disorder.
I was scared that people would ignore me. They did. I was scared that people would walk around me. They did. I was scared that people would act mean. They did. (Well, just a couple were assholes). I stood in a corner, constantly looking at the time, half heartedly asking people if they could spare a second, and wishing my shift was over.
But after awhile, I got used to it. I made it a game to go up to people. I became used to the rejection and that made me more confident in getting people to listen. Some people were nice enough to stop and hear me out.
Try it yourself. Maybe you could force yourself to participate at least two times every tutorial or lecture in a week.
Although I usually try to keep these posts lighter, I have to address something.
About three weeks ago a tumblr girl called Acacia Brinley Clark put up a video on youtube talking about her social anxiety. Although the video’s private now, check out this response video for a brief recap on what she talked about. The majority of comments I looked at on youtube said she didn’t have social anxiety/was mistaken/lying to get attention. Twitter is full of such comments as well.
I can see why people don’t believe her – she’s attractive, has a lot of followers, she’s on stage quite often, and meets a lot other famous personalities.
But anxiety is different from person to person with varying levels and situations. It’s important not to devalidate someone’s disorder, even if it’s self diagnosed, or if you think they’re lying.
At the end of the day, someone might look like the coolest person, but you don’t know what happens inside of their mind. What if they leave a party, go home and have a panic attack? Or what if they spend hours and hours thinking about that one look some acquaintance gave them?
Social anxiety is also hard to label. Dan J. Stein, MD and PHD, writes that social anxiety “ranges broadly in clinical and community settings”. He continues to say that one person with severe SA will easily tick all the symptom check boxes for social anxiety and depression, but another who experiences it to a lesser extent will have a harder time getting diagnosed because their experiences aren’t as black and white.
While one person may get it so badly they can’t leave their house without being affected by anxiety, someone else may receive it just during speeches. Another may be able to go to social situations, but be constantly analysing peoples’ thoughts and judgements so much that it upsets them.
When I was in high school, I actually felt more comfortable performing than starting a conversation with a classmate. Going to somebody’s house, though, would freak me out. With performing, I could hide behind a persona. The stage or screen is a formalised setting for someone to act confident without people judging your day-to-day personality.
Daniel Tosh (the comedian Tosh.o) has social anxiety, but has his own television show. Donny Osmond, a famous singer of the 70s, has openly talked about his social anxiety. So why should it be different for YouTube personalities like Acacia? Youtuber Zoella has millions of subscribers, but even she suffers from fear and panic.
When people reach out or want to get better, don’t tell them what they think is wrong. It makes it harder.
Posted by polarisabstract in Stigma Tags: "social anxiety", acacia, acacia brinley clark, celebrities with social anxiety, daniel tosh, donny osmond, graduate from social anxiety, self diagnosed, social anxiety in university, social phobia, Stigma, tosh.0, youtube, zoella