I have social anxiety.
According to Wikipedia:
"Social anxiety is a discomfort or a fear when a person is in social interactions that involve a concern about being judged or evaluated by others. It is typically characterized by an intense fear of what others are thinking about them (specifically fear of embarrassment, criticism, or rejection), which results in the individual feeling insecure, not good enough for other people, and/or the assumption that peers will automatically reject them."
I have had this for as long as I can remember, and have always been an introvert. I remember being introduced as shy by others. I remember having butterflies in my stomach before the first day of school, or school dances. I still get them. Or anxiety dreams or nightmares the night before a social event. I remember avoiding extended family functions. I still do that sometimes.
It is not the same as agoraphobia. While I am most comfortable at home, if I'm in public, I prefer being an invisible wallflower, watching the action. Why do I need to talk? I am awful at making small talk.
When it comes to a social situation, especially if meeting new people, I try to avoid it at all costs. Making phone calls, even to people I know freaks me out. I have zero interest in being the center of attention. Eating alone? Forget it. Eating in front of new people gives me anxiety. Eye contact is difficult. I try to avoid walking Charlie where other people are so I won't have to talk to them. And this isn't even every symptom.
I feel people are judging me in a negative way. I fear they'll think I'm ugly, fat, dumb, or weird. I've been told these things before. And when I do talk, I see that glazed over look, where they look like they're listening, but they aren't. If I do get a compliment, I'm convinced it's a means for the person to get something out of me, that it's not sincere.
I've been told get over it, to stop acting so weird, to smile (I look mad but swear I'm not--rbf), to have a drink. I try. I take deep breaths. I practice what I'm going to say when I'm going somewhere. I smile and try so hard to fit in. I started a Youtube to help me when talking to people. I started posting pictures of myself on the blog and my social media. I lost 40 pounds (work in progress). I've really worked on my self-esteem. I've worked on accepting it's impossible to be liked by everyone. I still think positively that maybe this time it won't be so difficult. But then I'll get a negative comment, a few "likes" on a pic or post, and then it's back to square one.
I'm writing this because this weekend I have my very first blogger conference, something I've avoided for the past few years, partly because of budget, and partly because of bloggers. I've written before on my battle with my self-esteem. I've come a long way since my first blogger event and Youtube video, (I threw up after both) but it never.gets.easier.
Girls are the worst at being judgmental of other girls! I see more tearing down of each other and competition than supporting. At this conference, I'm going to be at least 10 years older than these bloggers, twice the size, with half the budget for clothes. Trust me, I've seen their blogs or have met them before. I've already decided around 7 times (just today) that I'm not going to go, but my social anxiety is preventing me from growing my blog. I'm sick of feeling this way.
But today I am doing something about it. And writing this post was the first step.