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
Self-esteem is based on how you evaluate your self worth. We’ve all heard that low self-esteem leads to stress and depression. That’s something most people with social anxiety have. But high self esteem leads to the same thing as well.
Kristin Neff writes in Why Self Compassion Trumps Self Esteem, and in her website, that high self-esteem comes from feeling above average. But high self esteem comes at a price, from a tendency to put ourselves and others down. How can we all feel above average at the same time? This paradox leads us to always having to compete. So when we’re not successful, self-esteem ditches us and sends in the self critic.
In universities, colleges, schools, in everything, our culture puts an emphasis on success and competition. We’re always marked and compared with other people. And for social anxiety in college, we just have to compare our social lives with others:
“Why is that they can make friends but I can’t?
I’m so awkward compared to that guy.
Why can’t I participate in my tutorial?
Everyone else gets noticed, except me.
Everyone else drinks. “
Enough with the self-esteem. We have to replace it with self compassion, the practice of being kind to yourself. Be supportive. Rather than telling ourselves that we messed up, we need to treat ourselves like we would our friends. Say you mumbled all the way throughout a conversation. Instead of saying you “should have spoken louder, you idiot!”, you could say, “hey, you were really brave to step out of your comfort zone. I know it’s slow. But you’re already improving”.
A really cool blog that can help is The Self Compassion Project, if you want more information.
Until the next post,
Posted by polarisabstract in Self Compassion Tags: graduate from social anxiety, self acceptance, self compassion, self-esteem, social anxiety in college, social anxiety in university, the self compassion project