I’m an extrovert. I’ve talked about being one on Basically It’s Worse, which is probably the only place I’ve really acknowledged it. However, most people might not guess it from meeting me or seeing me in public. Most of the time when I attend an event (that I’m not required to be schmoozin’ it up), I sneak in and out like I wasn’t there. I’m a wall flower. I keep myself in the corners of the space and participation for me, means listening to what’s happening around me. I’ve reintroduced myself to several people who don’t remember me, because of this social habit of mine.
The reason for this is I have major* social anxiety. This means, I often relate to a lot of the “introvert memes” on the internet.
Socializing and the thought of socializing sends me into a panic. When I was in school, I would not be able to sleep the night before the first day because no matter how excited, I was terrified of having to interact with people again. I get stressed out talking on the phone but I get stressed out talking to people in person even more. It results in me having a very specific firm and detached tone of voice when I begin speaking.
But let me tell you, having social anxiety when you’re an extrovert is the absolute worst.
It’s isolating. It’s depressing. It’s so difficult.
What do you do when the one thing in the world that recharges you and makes you feel joy, terrifies you so much that you can’t do it? It’s like fighting a boss battle every time you want to eat food. It’s exhausting, draining and it starves you.
Living with social anxiety while being an extrovert is probably the main cause of my depression. The less I interact with people in person, the more depressed I become and the more depressed I become (and therefore, more anxious), the less I want to interact with people at all.
If you’re in a group of my friends and you’ve noticed that I regularly drop off the face of the planet, this would be why. I’m terrified. And the longer I put myself on a social hiatus, the stronger the social anxiety becomes.
It’s a terrible cycle and it’s incredibly difficult to break, especially since my social anxiety is so easy to trigger. What’s even worse is that I work in a very social field. How can I connect and network and do what I love if I’m too depressed and too scared to? A large portion of the time, I don’t.
So what can I do? I’ll be honest, I don’t have answers for this one. I never talk about this publicly and I’m not even really looking for a solution either. This isn’t a cry for help. It’s not really anything. It’s me saying…check on the people you know. Life is hard. Maintaining your mental health is hard. Doing it alone because you’re crippled by your mind is even harder.
Take care of each other, friends.