Social Anxiety vs. Introversion

I have social anxiety (overall definition is that you become anxious, and sometimes fearful, of interacting with people or doing certain things due to an irrational fear of being negatively judged and/or criticized), but for the longest time ever I confused it with introversion. I figured that it  was because of my being an introvert that I behaved certain ways, but it was actually a recent phenomenon where I discovered that probably half of who I am (if not more or less) is due to social anxiety.

From what I gather through quick internet research, there’s ‘general social anxiety’ where people become anxious around people in general, and then non-general anxiety disorder where people become anxious only when in groups (so won’t feel anxious around just one or two people). I think I fall in the latter category.

I find that my social anxiety is most evident when I’m in the classroom since I am a full time student and those typically are large groups with there always being a chance I’ll be in the spotlight. But I do find myself getting socially anxious outside of the classroom, like when I’m out with a bunch of people or having dinner with relatives. But, not always! If I’m with people I am familiar with, such as close friends or relatives I constantly see, then I’m quite comfortable with speaking up. In those situations, my introverted side is the only side that is apparent. For example, I won’t talk a lot, I’ll listen more, and I’ll still avoid the spotlight when in very large groups but not out of nervousness – just sheer dislike of being the center of attention.

However, if I’m with a group of people I don’t know very well, my social anxiety acts up (can social anxiety act up? Is it ‘comes out’? You get the idea). I’ve thought about it for quite some time, and I still have a little trouble separating my behaviors into the two categories of ‘social anxiety’ and ‘introversion’. Of course, in some cases it’s very easy to tell:

For instance, during classroom time if the teacher asks a question and I even THINK about answering it, my social anxiety doesn’t even creep up on me slowly it, it full on hits me like a truck to the face. I can feel my heartbeat up in my throat and pretty much reverberating throughout my whole body. It beats so fast and so hard I hear it in my ears and feel it in my fingertips. Speaking of which, my hands start to tremble a little and, depending on the temperature, get sweaty or clammy. My rational mind knows that it’s not a big deal and that I can just earn some participation points since no one else is raising his/her hands, but emotionally and physically I just CAN’T do it. Even if I know that the answer is correct, I still have a hard time going through with it and in the back of my mind I’m still afraid of being judged. Which.. makes no sense. Being negatively judged for getting an answer right?? I never delve too deep into the reasons why I don’t want to speak up in those moments, but I assume it’s along the lines of “I’m pretty sure this is the right answer, but what if by chance it’s wrong? Oh man, I’m going to get so negatively judged…”

Or a minor example: on the rare chance that Gamer wants to play a game with me or wants to watch me play a game, my social anxiety kicks in there too. Boy oh boy, I hate being watched doing something because of the whole being negatively judged. I get quite anxious when he suggests any of those things and pretty rattled like, “what if I mess up in the game? Oh, I just have to hope I play perfectly otherwise he’s going to (negatively) judge me.” On top of that, Gamer isn’t one to just openly throw out comforting words if I do mess up so it just worsens the whole “I’m being judged” feeling. It’s not even the normal “Boy, I sure hope I do well!” It’s such an irrational state of emotion I get like… it’s just a fucking game, come on haha.

Then on the other hand, I have moments where I don’t want to do something merely because I do not feel like it. I don’t feel anxious about it or anything, I just do not want to do it. Like on a Friday night I might bail on my friends because I don’t feel like socializing – not because I’m scared of anything.

But I have moments where I can’t differentiate where my behavior could fall under. Like I’ll come across an encounter and I don’t feel anxious, but rather… awkward? Once, I was walking my dog and saw two people up ahead just chilling. When I saw them, I changed my route and took a left turn down a different street instead of walking straight on as planned. I didn’t act with the feelings of “oh crap, there’s people. I’m getting anxious so I’m going to leave” nor was it an “I don’t feel like bumping into people today” type of mood. It was more like, “eh, I feel like this would be awkward so I’ll just go this way for now” type of feeling (it sounds weird, but I tend to be a little socially awkward from time to time so I think that’s why I thought that).

So things like that, I can’t tell where that would fall under. Would it be social anxiety? Since I wanted to avoid getting involved in an awkward situation? It makes sense. I didn’t feel anxious though like I do in some other situations, but perhaps I don’t always have to feel symptoms to have something be classified as acting under social anxiety…. But if that’s the case, then I wonder if there are other moments where I classified them as introverted behavior, but actually is social anxiety?

But for all I know, that is just a situational moment that had nothing to do with introversion or social anxiety and I’m just forcing my mind to somehow categorize all my behaviors because as much as I am a messy teen I do like to have everything organized. *big shrug*

Ah, it’s all so confusing and I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. I suppose one day it’ll become clear. Or maybe it won’t! Maybe I’ll forever live in a gray area of social anxiety and introversion which seems like a more normal route to accept myself as… But I am hitting a boring stage in my life so I might as well have something to ponder about and keep me entertained at nights in bed.*another big shrug*

If anyone knows anything more about social anxiety, I would love to hear about it! I’m still learning up on it and have yet to really talk to my doctor about it.

Good night everyone!

Thoughts Changed for the Better or Worse?

I always thought that I’d be in the kind of relationship where it’d be sturdy, where if there was any issue or situation that arises, my significant other and I would talk about it. Many of my friends once in a while will come to me and say “Well, ____ and I broke up” and then a day later, or even less, they would end up back together. I’ve never been in that kind of relationship and had always hoped that it would stay that way.

That kind of relationship, to me personally at least, seemed stupid and, for lack of a better word, immature. I always thought to myself, “huh, I’m never going to constantly break up with my boyfriend and get back with him just a few hours later, that’s stupid,” or something like that. I was so confident I wouldn’t allow myself to be in a relationship like that, but I realize relationships are unpredictable. It’s not like I can look at a guy and automatically think, “he’s the kind of guy to break up constantly” and I certainly didn’t see my current boyfriend as that kind of guy.

And I don’t know how to feel about that. Is it normal for couples to do this? Break up during fights and get back together? Was I the odd one out? I just don’t get it. So far, my beau has broken up with me twice, and the last time it happened was just last week over text. It was after an argument we had and I went to bed angry, of course. And then about 40 minutes later he texted me a long paragraph saying he took a long shower and after thinking about it, was breaking up with me. Turns out he was actually furious, but I honestly did not know that – he hid it well over text.

And of course, me being the person who was not used to this kind of break-up-get-back-together relationship, started freaking out. Like… what? You’re breaking up with me over something that I did not know bothered you so much before. Don’t I at least get a 3 strikes and you’re out kind of thing? I was so confused and sad, and angry at myself too.

Luckily, he had told me in the beginning of our relationship that if we ever get into big arguments, he might have a tendency to say things he doesn’t mean – aka break up messages. So I had a feeling that everything would be better, but at the same time I still freaked out. It was around 3:30am and I stayed wide awake until 6am, when he finally responded to my texts (apparently he had fallen asleep right after he sent that text).

We resolved it a few hours later… but again, I’m really not used to it. I always thought that couples who were in that kind of relationship were… unstable, weak, not strong enough to withstand mere arguments. Subconsciously, in a really weird way, I kept wondering: Does this mean we’re not a strong couple? Okay, I wasn’t having direct questions like that. They were more like feelings of doubt (not about my beau or us, just about my past thoughts), wonder, confusion, etc.

And then the funny thing is that, it’s been a week but I’m still on edge. Whenever I’m doing my own thing and I see that my beau sent me a long text message, I legitimately feel my heart jump a little out of fear. Every single time. Just a few days ago he said he was going to take a shower, and after a while I started to get anxious, having thoughts like “he’s taking a lot longer than usual, is he contemplating breaking up again?” As I may or may not have mentioned previously, my beau has insomnia and has trouble sleeping. I’m used to waking up in the mornings to see one to three texts from him saying how he can’t sleep or just a random text, but for the past week whenever I see a text from him in the early mornings, I once again feel my heart jump a bit from fear. And last night he was telling me issues his brother and his brother’s girlfriend were having and out of no where I started wondering “is he hinting about how he feels about me now?”

It’s actually fucking ridiculous. I hope this isn’t permanent and is just something temporary. I opened up to him and told him that I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that we might go through this again and again in the future. He admitted that he doesn’t know because he tends to get irrational when he’s mad. I understand that, but at the same time I just do not know how I feel about that. I’m encouraging him to next time let me know when he’s mad at me or if I fucked up, so that we can work through it. I really do hope he will because I honestly don’t know how I’ll be able to handle it if it happens consistently.

 

On a side note, it’s Christmas Eve!!! Post on Christmas to come soon :)