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It’s not that I’m rude; I’m feeling socially anxious

Since I was young, I have always taken the backseat in social environments, at school and elsewhere. Even now I am never the life of the party, preferring to sit back and let others do the talking, too afraid to draw attention to myself. This is fine for me and as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to stop thinking of this as such a negative. Not everyone can be Mr popular and that is alright with me. I’ve made peace with this and am more confident because of it.

But what about other situations in everyday life? The bus stop, the supermarket, the pub… all places that I despise having to go just in case the chance for small talk arises. There are some people out there that love conversation and can easily participate in banter with complete strangers but that is not me. Since we live in a society where it is the norm to communicate with others, I feel I’m on the back foot more often than I would like. I feel extremely uncomfortable with the whole affair and I almost dread being approached by a friendly face. It sounds ridiculous but true. When I feel forced into a conversation like this my mind goes blank and I struggle to think of ways to reply. This leads to an over analytical focus on my body language and tone of voice, so much so that it’s distracting and I can lose the thread of conversation completely.

Now I know that it is not the other persons fault, of course, but this all seems to end with me feeling awful -like I’m rude or stubborn, when in fact I really don’t want this to be the perception people have of me. It’s just another thing I constantly worry about. It’s a nasty cycle, one that I am still searching for a way to break. Heck, I put off going to the hairdressers for weeks just to avoid such a dilemma (and as someone with hair that grows in a natural bowl shape, I can tell you it’s not a flattering look).

In all honesty, I’m probably much like you right now and have little clue as to how to combat this, even though it seems to make everyday life an absolute pain. I have no fix nor any advice, not this time. I’m just glad that I have a space like Quiet Connections to talk about things like this. Knowing that there are other people with similar struggles does not cure those anxious feelings in the slightest, however it does make me feel a little more normal. Recognising the common humanity in our experiences means we can be a little more compassionate towards ourselves in our struggles. Maybe talking about anxiety more in general can help. If more people become aware and are more open about their experiences, then perhaps there can arise some more understanding.

I’m not rude, I promise.

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