MY VIEW: Social anxiety doesn’t have to rule your life

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  Most all of you know that presenting something in front of your peers can be stressful. Imagine that stress and fear being in your day-to-day life. That’s what I live with on the daily.

  Being around large groups of people makes me very paranoid. I know that there is really nothing for me to be afraid of, but my brain always seems to find something to worry about. For example, being in a packed gymnasium for a pep rally triggers my anxiety. I never really do anything about it either; I just put up with it. Yet whenever it comes to social interactions, I tend to lock up and lose all my senses. 

  My social anxiety is triggered whenever I’m around someone I don’t know much about or someone who is in a different social spectrum than me. So, if someone “popular” tries to talk to me, I usually begin to feel like they want something from me or they’re going to do something to embarrass me. They could literally just want to talk, and I push them away, I either distance myself quickly or just give short replies. 

  However, my anxiety isn’t triggered when I’m around people whom I normally talk to or people whom I know and share common interests with. 

  My coping devices include playing with my fingers. I tend to walk them against one another like a wave effect. I also sometimes play with my hair. These methods get my mind off what’s around me since I focus on not getting my hair in a knot, etc. I do the typical stress relief by bouncing my right leg or tapping my fingers against the closest surface. Sometimes I just put in one earbud, if I can, and listen to peaceful lo-fi music on YouTube.

  Another way I have learned to deal with these situations is with a game called “VRChat” which is a social interaction game. Recently it’s started to help me talk to other people and manage to keep conversations rolling. It is even slowly helping me learn how to keep eye contact with other people. 

  Of course, social anxiety affects each person differently. Each person has his or her own way of coping. One can be very outgoing but still, have anxiety. Yet, there is no reason that you should let social anxiety define who you are as a person. Social anxiety is just another obstacle in life that I’m going to have to figure out how to overcome. So, if I can do it, you can, too!