Social Anxiety is Bred From the Palm of Our Hands / by McKenzie Roers

You've probably clicked on the link on my Instagram bio to get here, so my point is already half proven. 

I am an analyzer, an over-thinker, and combined, a busy bee who likes to keep moving. Just watch me come home from a long day, I'll fidget until my room is back to the clean, sharply organized status it belongs in. It also keeps my mind running, and running fast, staying glued to what I could be doing better to help pursue my dreams / be a better person. I crave understanding. 

As I come across it more and more, especially through social media platforms, I am left with two questions, 1) how much of this is a genuine reality and 2) is this the latest, most well used excuse? Accounts have their faces/bodies plastered across their feed with claims of how they don't know how to talk to people in real life, they don't know how to have day-to-day, short, human interactions. W h a t? 

Here's the social anxiety that I have personally been around: my friends are visibly uncomfortable in a social setting in either a small group or large crowd, they don't appreciate any attention graced upon them, and they usually aren't trying to socialize. The second thought here is that you can have anxiety and not have social anxiety: that's what I have. I have anxiety about standing in lines, closed spaces, not having escape routes; I thought that I was having an anxiety attack recently while at a bar with a group of friends because of the social aspect but upon reviewing, as I am always doing, I realized that I was indeed having one because of the confinement factor: I was sitting on the inside of an eight-person booth in a bar that I already didn't care for, with no immediate available way out if needed. I teared up at one point in the midst of silently practicing my breathing exercises (ten deep inhales, if I can make it to ten). 

So WHAT IS SOCIAL ANXIETY then? In my opinion, we have bred the foundation to our own problems (yes, even to the type of anxiety that I have). We've accomplished this with the internet, social media platforms, and the little electronic device that remains threaded to our body twenty-four seven. I watch it happen all too often, as I am approaching someone from a distance, by the time we have grown close enough to make an exchange (out of pure recognition for a human being), they've pulled their phone out to answer "something" instead. My frustration begins to brew with instances like such; we are all humans, a smile, nod or "hello" isn't going to kill anyone. Your fear of doing so, will also not kill you. 

It's hard to be upset about something like having humans continuously jump on their phone to avoid having to look around at their surroundings instead when I live in an area where people do not usually even look in your direction (or they look right through you). I have had to learn how to keep my head down because I am far more disappointed and upset by someone blatantly ignoring the smile and "hello" I've given them. I still don't understand this attitude, especially in the outdoors here and especially because coming from Utah, everyone greeted you. 

I don't discount genuine social anxiety but I do find it upsetting that people are so quick to use it as their excuse for not wanting to be social. Here's the thing, no one is asking you to be the extrovert that you aren't but using your introvert personality to tactfully cover up being unapproachable, rude, or unsociable. Don't put yourself in those types of situations if you know that you're uncomfortable and if you are required to show for such, prepare....it's just other humans probably as nervous as you. 

What you're thinking right now: "easier said that done". You're right, you're totally right. But, I have an irrational fear of open bodies of water, yet over the years, I have progressively been working on reentering/embracing my fear by trying things like paddle boarding and soaking in hot springs. My point? You can help yourself. 

I am the first person to understand how comforting it can be to share your own experience in the hopes that it will help someone else or that it will bring comfort to them in knowing that they are "not alone" but I hate when anxiety becomes an excuse. If I am able to live with a type of anxiety that demands the use of daily medication and I don't use them to combat it, you can learn to embrace the parts of your anxiety that fester. It takes a lot of recognition, admittance and acceptance, and finally understanding of how to move forward with knowledge of your triggers.