The following post is based on things that have happened to me over the last couple of weeks, to show the differences between the thought processes of socially anxious people and people who don’t suffer from social anxiety, by showing how they’d (likely) react to the same situation. (And yes, I’m aware of how ridiculous some of my thought processes are).
At the beginning of last week, I was out cycling, when a group of four male cyclists around my age passed me. One of them (who was rather attractive) said hi to me as they passed me.
SA person (me): For some reason (probably the suddenness of that guy saying hi to me after hours of not speaking to anyone, combined with the fact that my brain seems to take longer to process things when I’m anxious), I couldn’t say hi back to him. It was almost as if I was physically unable to speak. Naturally, I started to feel really bad about it immediately afterwards, thinking about how rude/ weird I must have seemed, and how I can’t even say a simple “hi” to someone I find attractive.
THIS is why you don’t have boyfriend, Gemma. You can’t even interact with other people on the most basic level. How can anyone even BE so awkward? *Keeps thinking about how rude/ unfriendly I must’ve seemed and how awkward/ crap I am at talking to men for the rest of the day*
I wanted to race and catch up with him, and get his number. 😛 But I’d already cycled about 20 miles by that point, with about 4.5 (mostly uphill) miles left to go, so I was a bit knackered. (And there’s also…y’know…the small issue of a chronic and crippling anxiety disorder to contend with). Oh well…at least it didn’t (as my online friend joked) cause me to crash/ fall off my bike.
Non-SA person: * Either says hi back or doesn’t. Whichever option they chose, they don’t obsess about it for the rest of the day, and probably don’t even give it a second thought.*
Last week, before I had returned to work from my 2 week break, I bumped into (not literally; that would have been even more awkward…) my manager while out walking my dog. He seemed to come out of nowhere and suddenly said hi to me. I said hi back and then stood there awkwardly for a moment, expecting him to say more, but he kept on walking.
Non-SA person: That was a bit awkward. Oh well…
* Thinks about it maybe once or twice, but doesn’t obsess about it/ beat their self up about it*
SA person (me): Gemma, why are you so bloody awkward?? He probably thinks you’re even more weird, awkward and socially inept than he did before. You’re always so awkward around other people. He’s probably going to eventually fire you due to your awkwardness and anxiety getting in the way of things. He’s probably wondering why you’re staying at home on your holidays and why you’re out walking the dog all by yourself. You’ve just made yourself look like even more of a weird loner. Congratulations! You’ve just won the “most awkward person ever” award!
*Starts sweating and feeling nauseous*
* Makes a big detour/ massive change to my walking route, so that I’ll be unlikely to bump into him/ his family again, because that would just make things even more awkward.*
* Keeps scanning the area to make sure that he and his family aren’t there*
*Obsesses about how awkward I must have seemed for days afterwards*
Yesterday at work, I accidentally said good morning to the same colleague twice.
Non-SA person: That was a little bit awkward/ silly. Oh well…I’m sure they’ll realise it was just a silly mistake and they won’t think any less of me.
SA person (me): He probably thinks I’m even more weird, stupid and awkward than he already did. He probably thinks there’s something wrong with me.
* Feels very embarrassed, anxious, and upset about it for the rest of the morning*
By the way, the colleague I’m talking about is the same person who first pointed out how quiet I am, so for this reason, I have been trying to make an effort to say “good morning” to him each morning (I know it isn’t much, but at least it shows that I’m making an effort). Well yesterday at break time, he made the sarcastic comment that “You can’t get Gemma to shut up”, while a couple of other colleagues laughed. I tried to force a smile but I was quite annoyed by his comment, and the fact that people are constantly making these kinds of comments about me. And all his comment really did was make things even more awkward, as I had no idea what to say to him (maybe I’ll just try asking “What do you want me to say?” the next time someone points out how quiet I am). A couple of minutes later, the same colleague asked me: “Are you this quiet at home?” I chuckled and simply said “no”. I suppose at the time, I was trying to show that I’m not quiet once a person gets to know me, but in hindsight, I probably just came across as even more rude (perhaps my colleagues think I’m deliberately choosing not to speak to them) and weird than I did before. I hate social anxiety.
Ah well…at least I managed this a couple of days ago:
I at least managed to give myself a pat on the back for that. I apologise for how weird/ cringe-worthy my last couple of posts in particular have been. And I apologise for always apologising. And I apologise for not having a backbone. Actually, if I could just throw in this disclaimer for all future posts and for everyone who knows me: