Shyness and Anxiety

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Being an anxiously quiet and shy kid, I received plenty of remarks growing up about how I was “antisocial” or how I “probably secretly hate everyone.” Especially when I was a little girl who cared a little too much, these comments hurt. I wanted friends, I cared about people. My school system was consistently changing the schools I attended (even though I didn’t even move), so as soon as I made friends, I felt like I was pushed away somewhere else to restart the whole cycle again. I struggled with fitting in. I certainly didn’t want to be like everyone else, but I wanted people who would be in my corner and vice versa. I also tended to be a perfectionist, and I wanted everything to be a certain way. I didn’t want to say something silly and get rejected for something that I said.

All of the negative comments about my quiet demeanor did not boost my confidence at all. Who would want to hang out with someone who doesn’t talk? I’d try to find the words to say, but with all the pressure to just say something, my mind would go blank. Once I realized that no words were going to come out of my mouth, my mind would fire insults like “wow, you’re so boring” and “no wonder why they don’t want to hang out with you”.

In high school, I kind of had a friend group. A couple of these friends I genuinely liked and felt good about, but the others honestly weren’t friends at all. They only wanted me to come to lunch if they were going to be alone, but when I needed them, they would never return the favor. (We had this lunch program where everyone could go to lunch, but you were also encouraged to spend one half of lunch in a classroom/somewhere aside from the cafeteria). Then right when I promised to try to do better (to be more ‘interesting’ and talk more), I’d see pictures posted online on Facebook from when they hung out after school; somehow, it still stung when I wasn’t invited. So I tried to distance myself from everyone. Sure, I’d have conversations with people, smile at anyone I knew. But I’d spend my lunch in the library working on homework or wandering the halls. Outside of class, I focused on homework and worked as much as I could. I tried to appear like I didn’t want any sort of relationship with people-that it was my choice and that I was completely fine. In masking my vulnerabilities, I think people believed me.

No matter how bad it got though, I hung in there. And you know what? I’m still learning. I’m not super trusting of new people, I don’t like starting conversations with strangers (or even people I know). I’m surprised when people want to get to know me or when they actually want me to go to things or when they for some reason idolize me (I’ve had a few people say they wish they were me and it blew my mind).

One of the hardest things I’ve done is try to open up to people. It’s scary! Some people make it easier to be around, while others tend to drive up my anxiety. I also tend to be a perfectionist, and especially now that I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, I want to isolate myself from people until I am. It’s not that I want to be better than anyone else; I just want to feel good enough. Then I won’t get anxious about getting asked simple questions about my life. Obviously this isn’t an ideal mindset to have, because it’s helpful to have people support you when you’re struggling. 

While college helped me make friends and feel a bit better around people, I still get anxious before social events in particular. Most of my anxiety does happen internally instead of externally, but a few times (especially when I’m also tired, stressed, hungry, overwhelmed, etc.) it can show. I do have a few tips that I use in an attempt to calm myself before an event or long day. Let’s end this post with some advice!

  • Give yourself a pep talk
  • Spend some time alone doing something that calms you beforehand (journaling, drawing, reading, coloring)
  • Listen to your favorite songs while getting ready
  • Fake it till you make it
  • Tell your negative thoughts ‘shhhh’ and don’t listen to them
  • Bring a close friend to get ready with you
  • What’s the worst that can happen? If these people don’t like who you are, you should find others to hang out with anyways

Hope you enjoyed today’s post! What are some of your tips for dealing with anxiety of any kind?

6 thoughts on “Shyness and Anxiety

    • Thank you for reading! I think it’s important not to listen to all of the negative thoughts in your head and have a positive mindset about yourself. Doing peaceful activities that you enjoy can really help calm you down too.

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  1. Hi Melissa! Thank you for sharing your experience and story with us, I felt it was really nice to be able to learn more about you this way – not only on the funny or bright little tidbits, but also of your own challenges and what helped shape you to become who you are now. I too struggled with making friends and I still do too! I’m an introvert – not talkative or outgoing by any means, and I prefer to stay quiet and keep to myself.

    There are times when I want to join in on a conversation but like you I end up stopping myself because I fear of what people will think of me if I say/ask such a thing. I OVERTHINK a LOT, and it doesn’t help me become more talkative! I’ve definitely felt like the “friend group” I was in in the past only used me when they were alone as well, and I’ve slowly learned to sever ties even if it meant being alone. I’ve learned the “faking it” method too, but that gets so exhausting because there is a point where we just can’t fake it and copy the lifestyles of the people we hang out with or deem to be friends. I’ve learned that if I just truly act like myself, I’ll eventually find the people who vibe the same and those will be the ones worth keeping!

    Sorry for the long reply but I really loved reading this and I like the tips you listed at the end! Thanks for sharing 🙂 ❤

    Geraldine | https://geraldinetalks.com

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    • Thank you Geraldine, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Overthinking does make things more difficult when it comes to interacting with others. And I agree that faking it is more of a temporary method-it IS exhausting and I normally use it for work and not as much for my personal life. Sometimes it helps me meet the people I vibe with, and that’s definitely the end goal-to meet people who enjoy your company when you are being yourself. Hopefully we’ll both only get more comfortable as time goes on ❤️

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  2. I almost feel like I could have written most of this myself! I went through exactly the same things as you when I was younger, and they had a similar impact – especially where you mention the pressure ultimately resulting in saying nothing. I’m making slow progress, but new situations remain a source of a lot of anxiety for me. I love your suggestions, though. Listening to music definitely helps to drown out some of the negative thoughts!

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    • I’m glad that you related to this (I mean, I’d rather have everyone be anxiety-free, but it’s nice to connect with others with the same problems). I completely understand how new situations can still create anxiety-I’m certainly not over this 100%, but like you, I’m making progress. Thank you for reading; I’m glad you enjoyed the suggestions! 😊

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