I posed the question on Facebook the other day about how one who deals with social anxiety get along without medication or alcohol, two of the most popular choices for suppressing complex emotions. The responses were pretty much obvious or humor, which bothered me a little. I know other people have these sorts of issues, but we have no real method of dealing with them without masking the problem.
Wikipedia defines it as such:
Social anxiety is a discomfort or a fear when a person is in social interactions that involve a concern about being judged or evaluated by others. It is typically characterized by an intense fear of what others are thinking about them (specifically fear of embarrassment, criticism, or rejection), which results in the individual feeling insecure, not good enough for other people, and/or the assumption that peers will automatically reject them.
I don’t personally believe my issues are the same as those who have it worse, who can’t bear to leave their rooms or homes. I am still able to walk outside and function in reality. I identify with this condition mainly with people I see on a regular basis, but who I don’t consider to be close friends, which is mainly co-workers and most of my wife’s friends. Even with close friends, we’re talking about people who I’ve known awhile and talk to somewhat regularly. I don’t have “best friends” or any of that sort of thing. The reason for that is roughly the same, I have an intense fear of letting anyone really know me beyond the surface, beyond what I tell them. People judge. I judge. We all judge. We all think we can do better with other people’s lives, and that’s how I feel people judge me, they see or hear what I do, and they have to make a statement about how I am doing it wrong, how it should be done, or how it shouldn’t be done in the first place. I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed that I am thirty and I am still working in the trenches of IT. I am embarrassed I don’t have a proper college education. I am embarrassed I don’t have a decent home, or enough money to start a family, or a number of other expectations being set forth for me by either my wife or society as a whole. I feel a lot of people with these things are more successful, and thus judge me behind false smiles and humble words. That is the kind of cross I bear in my daily life, and it’s hard to manage some times.
This week I watched a co-worker be let go, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that a number of eyes were gazing on me all week as I work. I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d be next. It didn’t matter if that was completely not the case at all, I still felt it. It felt just like the weeks before leaving East Point. I knew my boss had it out for me then, and I was too naive enough not to see the writing on the wall sooner and bail out before the hammer fell. The worse part is, it was paralyzing me from doing anything. I would stare at my screen for five minutes frozen in cyclic thought. What if? Will they? How can I? Why? Did I? It’s not a good feeling, it actually hurts, but I don’t know what to do about it. Anyone you talk to suggests a therapist, or drugs, or just buying a bottle of scotch and curling up in a corner of the room in your underwear. I don’t want to be that sort of person. I don’t want to take a bunch of medication that makes me worse when I am off it. I’ve entertained the idea of a therapist, but my fear is they will judge me too. No one wants to listen to my shit. Deal with it. Be normal. Fix your shit. Stop doing whatever it is your doing. Be social. Everyone thinks that this sort of thing has an instant fix, like praying the gay away for homosexuals.
Man, I will totally wake up tomorrow and be a totally normal person who does normal things and interacts with everyone because you told me all I have to do is be that kind of person. It was that easy. Thanks, boss. I couldn’t have done this without you. You are by far the greatest human being to have ever walked on this green, majestic, ball of green fields and open oceans. You are a god among men. A savior of us all. Your wisdom will be quoth to my children and grandchildren for generations so that they may become social pharaohs of their time. No? You didn’t like my sarcasm? That’s not what you meant at all? Well then why would you say that?