This post is meant to be light-hearted and laugh at the things we do because of social anxiety
I’ve done many things throughout my life that I thought were normal human behaviour, albeit feeling uncomfortable at the time.
I’ve always felt different and a bit wackier than the average person, but I never thought I was the poster child for social anxiety.
I honestly thought everyone reacted the same way in certain situations.
Still, it was only until I married a non-socially anxious person that I finally saw my way of doing things might seem strange or funny to others.
If you’re socially anxious, you’ll relate to this list, but if you’re not, stick around to learn more about the people in your life with social anxiety.
If there was a party to attend, a happy hour, a work function, or any other event involving people, I planned out my topics of conversation.
I played out all the scenarios in my head, from the hugs I would give to the handshakes I would extend. I thought about how to start each conversation, and I memorized many questions to ask. For each person, I knew will be there.
Should they deviate from my plan, I was screwed.
I sometimes role-played the whole conversation to have the upper hand and prepare myself. If that’s not social anxiety behaviour 101, then I don’t know what is.
“Sally, I had NO IDEA you were competing in the world’s book of records for fastest sweater knitter. How on Earth did you get into that?!”
“Mark, what a COINCIDENCE. I was reading about cryptocurrency the other day. What do you think about it? Do you think we’re going back to the Gold standard?”
“Jimboooo, I HEARD (but I stalked you on Instagram) you bought a camper and are planning to live out the #vanlife!”
I’ve done double-takes in the morning to ensure I don’t run into chatty neighbours before I walked outside. The same thing went for when I walked into the neighbourhood grocery store.
My eyes were constantly darting from left to right so I didn’t accidentally end up in a 20-minute conversation, trying to figure out how to get out.
It’s not that I’m not friendly, but I knew that if I was on a mission and had a purpose, the last thing I wanted to do was engage in meaningless small talk.
If I accidentally saw someone I knew loved to talk, I ran to the next aisle. I can’t recall how many times I’ve strolled into a store and, out of nowhere, launched myself behind a rack or an aisle for cover because I recognized someone.
Did they see me? Oh God, I hope they didn’t see me. What if they saw me hide? What if they come my way now? What do I say? Oh God, why am I like this?
At that point, I didn’t care about my grocery list anymore. I only cared about not running into them, so I avoided them. Sometimes that didn’t work because I’d peek at an aisle only to have them walk toward me. Game over.
Usually, I’d be by myself, so I didn’t have to feel extra stupid. But when my husband tagged along, I’d have to deal with him too because he’d snicker at what I did because of social anxiety. Ha-ha.
I usually have a long to-do list. Schedule car maintenance set up annual physical appointments, figure out why my bill is 2x the amount, and sign my kid up for soccer class.
That’s just for one day.
On top of that, I probably have ten calls I need to make. This is how I handled this: Hey, Mom, can you come over and call for me, please? I know I’m 34 but pleeeeasseeeee??
When I couldn’t do that anymore, my strategy changed to: Honeyyyyy, can you call that guy for the car?? Babyyyyy, can you contact the bank and ask them to refund the transfer fee? Sweetyyyyy, can you please call the daycare to let them know we are coming in late??
I mean, that’s probably the number one reason I married him…
These days, I’m better equipped to handle my own calls, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.
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I always asked the person I was with if they could ask someone else to photograph us.
You’d never catch me asking a stranger DIRECTLY to take a picture of me and a friend. If it were up to me, I would have always opted for a selfie or put a timer in and lose my camera over the edge. Most of the time, though, I made the person I was with ask a stranger to take our picture.
1. Stop a stranger
2. Ask them to take a picture
3. Hand over my new unpaid phone
4. Walk back
5. Take time to pose properly
6. Get the phone from them
7. Check the picture
8. Acknowledge it’s good
9. Ask for another picture if it sucks
10. Accept the sucky picture
11. Say thank you.
Too many steps, too much involvement, and too much human contact. I stayed at a distance while someone else handled all of that.
I happily did number 6, though.
“Bob, I think you misspelled your name, “I probably should have yelled out.
But I didn’t because I wasn’t particularly eager to put people on the spot. Because that meant I’d be putting myself on the spot.
To make myself feel better for not pointing anything out, I had a whole conversation with Bob in my head, and it went like this:
Sorry, Bob, you’ll have to lead the meeting with your name spelled Boob on the board. I’m not sure what you were thinking there, but it’s not my problem. Just like it’s not my problem that the date is wrong on the report, that you spelled my name wrong, or that I shouldn’t be in this meeting in the first place because you added the wrong Roxana to the meeting.
And so, I sat there, pretending I didn’t notice anything.
I made a video on this, discussing how this was my first struggle.
Asking a question is scary for a socially anxious introvert.
Chances were pretty high that it wouldn’t come out right, which meant I’d sound stupid, and people would roll their eyes. Then life would be over. It usually went like that.
So, it was much better to sit quietly and pray that someone else had the same question and that they actually asked it. I’m not sure what the chances are of that, but I was doing just fine, blazing through life, waiting for someone else to ask my questions.
I couldn’t afford anyone thinking that I didn’t know something, let alone something everyone else seems to know…
Ah, the things we think because of social anxiety.
Tell me you can relate to this.
You walk through the sliding doors of your building, step up to the elevators and press the button. There’s no one else around you. You look back at the entrance and notice that someone you know is about to enter as the elevator dings.
You run into the elevator, start pressing the close button panicky maniacally, and barely make it as you see their hand about to stop the elevator.
Phew, they were too late.
Holy shit, did they see me?? Yep. Most of my life, this was how I handled elevators.
I did this thing where I became overly polite at my own expense.
For example, if I was driving and I needed to take a left-hand turn but there were five cars behind me waiting, and there was a nonstop flow of vehicles coming from the other way, I’d take a right turn instead and drive for 10 miles to not be an “inconvenience” to the cars behind me.
I hated making people wait for me, so I’d go in the opposite direction if I had to.
Please don’t get out of your car and yell at me for not taking the initiative to go the moment I should have gone but was too scared!
Ok, you caught me; I still do this. I don’t blink twice if I have to get a wax at a place that’s 20 minutes further, as long as they let me book an appointment online. There’s no way I will pick up a phone, try to coordinate on the spot with the host on the available time slots, and talk about the options I want to have. I’ll skip all of that; thank you very much.
I don’t understand how in this day and age, there are service-based businesses that do not accept online bookings. It’s so mind-blowing to me that it feels somehow fishy.
The easiest way to start managing your social anxiety is to laugh at what it makes you do and then take steps to work through it.
Social anxiety is no joke; I know because I’ve lived with it for many years. But I can laugh at some of the things it made me do because I’ll give it too much power over me if I don’t.
What things have you done because of social anxiety that make you chuckle?
I went from being scared to ask a question out loud to hosting summits online. I love coffee, french crepes, and working from home. My mission? Help others build their social confidence to make friends, have conversations, and be comfortable around people!
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