That’s an ordinary day. You’re standing in line in the supermarket.
Cashier: Do you need a bag?
You: Uumm, n.. no. Yes, one please.
Cashier: Do you have 20 cents?
You: *nervously looking for the damn coins. Your hands tremble. The coins fall on the floor.
Embarrassed, you’re quickly trying to make your way out of the supermarket. Thoughts are… you’ve made people waiting, all of them were looking at you as if you were crazy, the security guy might have thought you’re on drugs. Your mood, perhaps the whole day, is spoiled.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety, also social phobia, is a fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social situation.
People who have social anxiety usually say that they are afraid of people. They don’t want to be around too many people because it makes them extremely nervous, paranoid (as if others are constantly watching you), and uncomfortable.
The only desire in a stressful social situation is to escape. Espace as if nothing has happened.
Approximately, 15 millions of adults in America are living with social anxiety. However, people with social anxiety, may not always be afraid of people. In contrast, people with chronic social anxiety are avoiding social interactions at all cost not because they are afraid, but because they hate other people.
A person with social anxiety usually sees others as:
Usually, people with anxiety have very few friends and only those who are tested by time. They choose only those who can understand an anxious person and sustain a heart-to-heart talk without hurting them. People with anxiety see themselves as extreme introverts.
Researchers say that social anxiety may come from genetics and the environment, in this case, certain conditions in which social anxiety disorder develops. According to Healthline, the major causes of social anxiety are:
One of the examples of social anxiety is bullying parents. Parents who have never tried to learn how to raise their kids, oftentimes, make very repetitive, long-lasting, and traumatic mistakes which negatively affect their children.
A girl has just finished the dancing performance. Her mom is waiting for her outside in the hall. Instead of going directly to her mother, the girl goes to the toilet first.
What do you think her mother did? Cheerfully greeted and congratulated her daughter for being an amazing dancer, for performing so well at the stage?
No. Her mom got extremely mad for waiting an extra minute and missing out on the opportunity to take a photo with other dancers and their moms against some beautiful wall in the hall. Moreover, she started screaming and dropping some language in front of other people while her daughter was slowly approaching her mother.
Blushing, ashamed, discouraged, humiliated in front of other people, she cried.
On their way back home, the mother was falling into passive aggression saying how stupid of her daughter was to make a silly mistake and forget her moves at the stage.
What a disgusting act, huh?
The girl couldn’t bear it. She was ashamed, humiliated. The only solution was to run away. She ran and cried.
A boy is memorizing the multiplication table. His mother, grandmother, and other relatives are in the kitchen drinking tea.
Here comes the boy. He tried his best to memorize the multiplication table. In general, he nailed it except for a few things which he still needs more practice with.
The boy is on a mission now. He needs to perform at his highest demonstrating that he has learned the multiplication table. The only problem is that he is nervous because of all those people in the kitchen. He asks his mom to go to his room to check his knowledge. She agrees.
The boy doesn’t show his best results. The mother gets extremely angry since that is not the first time he has to demonstrate that he learned this damn multiplication table. She starts screaming like crazy, calling him names. Calling him stupid, incapable of learning, a waste.
To crown it all, she hits him with a wooden ruler. The boy is not frustrated to be hit once again. He is frustrated because other people hear what his mom is thinking about him. He starts weeping. For what he gets hit again.
But he doesn’t care. What he cares about is what his mother thinks about him. Moreover, he cares about what other people will think about him. He doesn’t want to betray his mom and be perceived as stupid.
Bullying at school is one of the most common reasons why children develop their social anxiety. Teenagers are different. They come from different families, very different families. They already acquired some of the behavioral patterns which they are now able to test and see how it works.
Many teenagers have developed their own safety mechanisms which are often based on attack or run, otherwise, you’ll get victimized.
Parents have just bought a new school bag for their young fellow. The problem is that it looks quite controversial. The bag is unisex. Not that it looks like one of a girl, but it’s very far from a cool Swissgear rucksack. It’s pink.
Oh boy, here he comes. Look at his silly backpack. He looks like a girl, haha. Boy, where is your masculinity? What is this stupid backpack? You think it’s cool? This is what’s cool (*hits him in the stomach)
The boy is humiliated. He never liked this damn backpack which his parents bought him. And now, he has to suffer. He has to pay the prize for not being able to change it. His decision was not considered during the purchase, but parents knew that this exact backpack is of the highest quality.
You’re not of our kind girl. We don’t like you. However, you can walk with us if only you wear this, post this on Instagram, and don’t go out with your friend which I hate and despise.
You can do whatever you want, but if you spend more time with another group of “friends” you may forget about being in our club. I want you to spend more time with us. You need us because you look so uncouth, and we’ll teach you how to be cool.
The girl has to decide now. She needs to make a choice who is the real friend to her. This group of “cool” girls or this one girl who understands, supports, and likes her for whatever person she is.
She just doesn’t understand why she can’t be friends with all of them, and why she needs to choose. She starts feeling slightly discouraged, depressed. She tries to avoid contact with her best friend, but she fails. When the time comes, both “parties” turn away from her for betrayal. She is lost and deeply wounded. She wishes she’d never met those “cool” girls.
The true teacher is the one who came to school to help children grow up and become better adults. This teacher will spot all of your best abilities and will help you master them. A fake teacher is the one who came to school to get at least some job. Usually, it was the last option.
Welcome to the math class. A firm, rigid voice calls a name. A girl is the one to go to the board and solve an equation. She comes up to the board, trembling and shaking. The tension intensifies. She knows what’s going to happen if she can’t solve it.
At the current moment, she is not even thinking about the equation. She doesn’t care. She just wants to go back to her seat, back to safety. She is scared.
She draws the first number. Wrong!
The teacher gets absolutely mad. The teacher starts screaming that the girl is stupid, her handwriting is shit, and she is not going to pass the exams. With such a horrible attitude, she will not be able to go to university, not speaking about job enrollment.
Devastated, the girl goes back to her seat. She wishes she was sick this day, so she wouldn’t have been called out to the board and destroyed in front of the whole class. She is sure that the class thinks she is stupid.
Somebody has broken the lamp in the classroom. Everybody knows it’s going to be a disaster when the teacher returns to the class. A lesson passed, the teacher didn’t notice anything.
A day passed. Classmates start spreading gossips. Occasionally, they cast glances at the broken lamp. A boy holds his sight for too long on the broken lamp. The teacher takes a look at whatever he is watching so intently.
The teacher notices the broken lamp. The investigation begins.
“Everybody stand up! Who did it?”
“I repeat. Who did it?”
“Why were you watching this lamp so closely, boy? It must have been you. Confess.”
The boy didn’t do it. He doesn’t want to confess in something he didn’t do. The teacher insists and starts cross-questioning him. The boy doesn’t want to say who did it because he knows that he will get beaten by other boys, by those who actually did it.
He is stuck with this dilemma. His eyes are wet. The teacher can see that, so he moves on to the next pupil. The boy is nearly broken inside. He almost burst out crying. Luckily, he could resist. But the next lesson is math again… When he gets home, he will meet his mom who screams at him for everything she wishes he could have been, but he is not.
Tomorrow, it will repeat. The boy will get bullied in the morning if his mom doesn’t wake up in the mood. He will go to school and will get beaten, picked, and found fault with by his classmates. Girls will laugh at him for being silly, wearing a damn pink backpack.
He will be called out to solve the equation which he can’t freaking comprehend due to the poor explanation, lack of purpose, and teaching methodology. He will get screamed at, humiliated, rejected. He will get a bad mark, and when he comes home, he will get punched, blamed, and absolutely fucking roasted by the pure hatred of his mother. A few hours later, she will apologize.
The boy will be confused. But he has learned the lesson.
He learned that people are always:
The solution is to isolate, run away, become invisible. It’s wise to stop making mistakes publicly, and at best, reduce all the social interactions. Otherwise, it can be painful, very painful.
This is what social anxiety is. That is the system. At the age of 5, kids know that they need to bandage a physical wound so that it doesn’t bleed, but even at 30, people don’t know what to do with an emotional wound. We don’t teach emotional intelligence. We sentence to emotional devastation.
Here is a trick. You know what you’ve been through. You know exactly what you like and what you don’t like about other people or their specific attitude towards you.
Most of the time, people who continually find fault with you are less experienced in the self-awareness than you. Since you can’t simply change all of them, you have to coexist in this toxic environment until you’ll take action to change your environment and surround yourself with the best people only. Until this moment, the only solution I can give you is very simple.
“A flipped coin a day keeps anxiety away” (c) Jason Statham
In the morning, when the day begins, you need to flip a coin. If it falls on the head, then you have to be the most confident person on the planet. You can easily go out to the supermarket to buy food, and ask for a bag before it’s even offered to you.
You’re so confident, that you can easily handle any social interaction. You’re not afraid of being judged because you know what you’re worth. When people find fault with you or getting mad at you, you try to investigate the situation. Why it happened, and what was the cause of it. You can ask: “Are you so angry because of me or because of something else?”
Find out what makes people so mad. You’ll be surprised that it’s not because of you. It’s because 2 days ago somebody has stepped on their foot.
But what if the coin falls on the tail?
Don’t try to be confident. Just live your normal day. Don’t bother going through the most crowded place. Don’t take part in any communications, and try be silent, invisible, and anxious as always.
Each morning you have a choice to try a different life. The life free of social anxiety. Each morning you have the opportunity to press the refresh button and start from scratch.
They didn’t teach you that at school. However, you can learn it today. You are the master of your fate. You are the only one who has the actual ability to control your life.
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