Am I making sense to them? I hope I am not making a fool out of myself? Will they still be interested in talking to me? What if I mess up? Will they accept me if I am not as extroverted as them?
All these questions are like waves, raging inside the mind of a person who suffers from social anxiety.
We have seen people trembling and stammering to use the correct phrases while expressing thoughts. These are very common symptoms of social anxiety.
We have all been through this stage at least once in our life, when we blanked out or when we grew numb in front of people. But strangely this a very very less discussed topic.
Despite this being such a relevant topic, in India, we have never been taught about this during our schooling. Yes, some of us have been introduced to the subject of psychology theoretically but that hasn't succeeded in dealing with the real-life feelings and internal struggles that a person goes through in his daily life.
Most of us confuse a lack of confidence or the fear of acceptance of social anxiety. Instead, social anxiety is an intense fear of being judged by others based on a mental pre-evaluation of ourselves in someone's head. Social anxiety can be seen in all kinds of people irrespective of age, gender, race, or color. The most common instances of social anxiety can be seen in youth, ranging from kids to teens. It can be a sign of low esteem that aggravates with time leading to less public interactions and ineffective communication, necessary for meaningful relations. Students with introvert nature are most susceptible to suffer from such an issue. Even in school or college, when a student is asked to present or deliver a speech, they get so nervous that they become breathless.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
It's the struggle of fulfilling expectations of others, that creeps out a person from inside as this creates a tremendous burden. The reason people suffering from social anxiety are not able to speak in front of others is the over-consciousness to deliver right. Plus, these piercing eyes facing a person can make excellent speakers feel the loss of words. There are people like this and then there are extroverts.
Extroverts probably miss out on the word hesitance from the dictionary in their life. And when these people with their strong persona and flawless confidence, interact with introverts low in confidence, introverts easily get intimidated. They fear of this being the only way of social interaction and fall into the trap of believing they aren't good enough.
For the teens, it is really hard at their level to understand the deep sense of loving themselves no matter what. But teens are not the only victims of social anxiety. And, no one is born with this disorder, it is mostly due to bad experiences during the growing age such as coming across rude people, rough childhood, less exposure to society, complex parenting or lack of a friend group.
All individuals are born different, and they should always respect themselves for what they are. The world is diverse and there is ample room for people of all types.
There is no tangible or medicinal cure for Social Anxiety. The only way to help people with anxiety is social acceptance and compassionate gestures. It is a slow process but it gets better with each passing day. Humans are called social animals and, if there is anything in which we are really good at, is being interactive with others by using the gift of language. A gentle smile, a warm gesture, and few words of motivation can do the trick to get a person's morale up to a level where he/she is confident enough to start a new conversation.
So, next time you see someone uncomfortable in expressing themselves, don't walk away. Be kind to wait and listen and also help them speak up.
Thank you for your patient reading.