Letter to the Editor: Life with Social Anxiety

“Hey Steven, why are you so quiet?” That’s a question I used to get often. I would always answer that it was just the way I am. The truth is that I’m irrationally afraid of the socializing with others due to the possibility of being judged or evaluated.

Life with social anxiety or S.A.D (Very appropriately named) is like a curse. It’s not that I don’t know how to socialize with other people, but that I am irrationally afraid to do so. Social anxiety or social phobia is defined as the irrational fear of interacting with others or being judged by other people. So I usually engage with other people as little as possible. Not of my own will, but because I’m afraid of the consequences of doing so. Ironically, my lack of social interaction is what has really led to me getting judged and cast aside.

Some would argue, “If you want to get rid of your fear, then face it” This doesn’t work for people like me. If I push myself too far my anxiety overwhelms me and I start failing. I know that I have my limits. Even now as I’m writing this article, I’m thinking about how it will be perceived, and how I will be perceived, but high school is almost over for me, so I’ve got room to be genuine.

Some people say that those who talk the least are the best listeners. I can definitely say that this is true, but it certainly isn’t a good thing. Hearing people say terrible things about me has been something I’ve always had to deal with. The only way I actually can deal with it is by remembering that what others have to say about me now is just not meaningful in the long run.

So what keeps me going? The idea that I can still make something of myself. The idea that future opportunities are always out there, and it’s just a matter of whether or not I’m willing to take advantage. Every day I come to school thinking about what I could do, and what I am instead forcing myself to do. My biggest mistakes have always involved failing to take advantage of opportunities given to me. But little by little I’m getting better. Better at pushing the envelope, and taking some of the opportunities given to me. And every time I push myself the right amount, I become better for it.

Why am I writing this? To raise awareness and to make sure that people like me don’t suffer needlessly. This isn’t just about social anxiety. This really applies to all anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, and panic disorder, just to name a few. If you suffer from any of these illnesses I cannot stress enough how important it is to find therapeutic or medical help. Some of these disorders can ruin lives if left untreated. I hope that others see the importance of taking the opportunities you get because you don’t really know how valuable they are until they’re gone.