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.
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
You’re at a lecture. You look around, and see plenty of people socialising around you. But you’re alone. All of a sudden, your mind races: do I look like a loser?
“Oh my god, I need to hide. I have to get out of here. I can’t find in! Blablablabla…”
These sorts of thoughts can occur in a range of situations: presentations, making friends, phone calls – you get what I mean.
It’s a familiar feeling to me. I was diagnosed with social anxiety back in high school. But I’ve mostly overcome it. Fear and panic does strike sometimes though. And even now as I’m typing this, my palms are sweating.
But you know what? Screw it! I decided to start this blog, this campaign, because I couldn’t find anything on dealing with social anxiety in college or university. And it’s pretty common too. One study, Phil Topham, places social anxiety at about 10% in universities and colleges.
But that statistic could be much higher! That same study points out the likelihood of it being a hidden disorder – it’s often mistaken for extreme shyness and it’s stigmatised. A lot of people can also hide it well.
So my plan of attack is to be the first resource for coping with social anxiety in uni students. I want to share what’s helped me tackle it, and be a place that people can relate to. I want to defuse misconceptions and stop the stigma of mental illnesses like social anxiety.
But even if you’re not sure if you have SA, if you’re just shy, if you’re not in uni, or whatever, this blog can still be right for you! I’m sure there are plenty of anxiety inducing situations that annoy us all.
And on Sep 20th (Australia time, it might be a day early or late if you’re anywhere else) I’ll be putting up a short animation! Anyway, till next time,