I was listening to a podcast by Kat Napiorkowska on YouTube a couple of nights ago. Kat is a girl who deals with social anxiety. Like many other amongst ourselves but she is not afraid to voice her anxiety and explain them to her audience.
Beyond the fact that her voice is so soothing that listening to her makes me feel relaxed automatically; I appreciate her explanation on what social anxiety means to her and maybe to some extent to some people.
Allow me to cover two points that some shy, introverts or socially anxious human beongs can relate to (because I feel it’s always good to be reminded we’re not alone dealing with our demons):
I – Quiet: What Does It Mean To Be An Introvert?
I’ve always been very shy and introvert and despite what Susan Cain says in “Quiet: The Power of Introverts”, it is hard sometimes to believe that society tends to deal with quiet and introvert people in a friendly way.
Being an introvert, in my case, led me to a slight form of social anxiety. Feeling so shy that you panic when your phone rings because you don’t know who is on the other side. Fearing you might not understand them or answer the wrong thing is a terrible feeling.
It doesn’t help your career when vocal people will be put forward easily and you might be sat in the back of the room, afraid to express your great ideas or opinions. Sometimes, it’s as complicated as refusing a retail or support role if it means dealing directly with customers (and sometimes, angry ones). The fear of being yelled at is still something that keeps me from taking risks in my work. Do men ever feel this way in the workplace? Do they also fear being scolded by their boss if they make a mistake?
II – Dealing with it on a daily basis
As Kat points out in the video, the simple fact of being in public transport and feeling observed can trigger some nervousness on my side. The idea that maybe something is wrong with me and that is the reason why people are throwing quick glances at me still crosses my mind.
I have learned with time how to push myself to think differently. Maybe this person is curious and wants to see which book I am reading? Or maybe this guy finds me attractive – who knows? But those thoughts were never my default ones. I tend to think something is wrong with me before thinking that I am a pleasing object of attention.
And some forms of introversion or people with serious anxiety might not be able to accept those thoughts are “reality” and go on with their lives.
III – Extroverts
Spending time with extroverts can be a draining experience. I grew up worried I would never have friends as I was more often better in my own company. I had to push myself over and over to accept invitations to meet up with people. The crazy part is that in small groups with really close friends, I always have a good time.
However, there is always a moment when I feel like being alone. Have you ever been out in a club with your friends and you’re having a good time dancing/drinking and out of nowhere, you look around at the sea of people and feel utterly alone? As if extracted from a general consciousness back to your own individual thoughts and feeling completely on your own? (never take me out clubbing if you want an existential-free good time)
I find it sad that a category of the population can feel ostracized and has to find ways to cope with their personality as if it was a tare that had to be pushed down and overcame in order to be accepted by society.
If you’re an extrovert and you’re reading this article, please keep in mind some people don’t enjoy social interactions like you do. Understand that for some people, meeting you out for a coffee can be a challenge. I’ll add that on some occasions, meeting extroverts people can be a good opportunity for me to quickly overcome my fears. Depending on their character, I can sometimes connect more easily with someone that is more open than someone with the same personality type as mine.
For the introverts out there (and people with serious anxiety), I know that an advice given by one person might not help because you have tried your best and it is beyond your abilities or not accurate to your level of anxiety. Just know you’re not alone and it is still possible to have a great life despite this condition.
Please use the comment section to share your experience with social anxiety, introversion and how you are dealing with it. If you have personal or professional victories to share, please do so! Introverts unite!