“You know you came off as rude, right?”
“I didn’t mean to. Honestly, I just don’t know what to say and I get nervous. My anxiety takes over,” I responded.
“I know, but just giving you the feedback that that’s what others would perceive.”
Ugh. Add to the list of things my anxiety causes me to be. Worrywart. Fearful. Irritable and snappy mom. Bad friend. And now I’m rude.
It’s not like I want to come off that way. I get nervous any time I talk to someone new—I can’t help it. I struggle to figure out where the conversation should go as my heart starts racing. Even if it’s someone I know and I’m comfortable with, my mind could be racing and be totally somewhere else, and I’m totally checked out of the conversation.
Social anxiety is totally a thing, and I wouldn’t say I have a social phobia. I don’t go (completely) out of my way to avoid social situations. But it is something my anxiety likes to overthink. Do they like me? Do I look like a complete mess? Did I just say something offensive? Are my jokes stupid? They’re totally judging me, right?
So, to the woman who struggles with anxiety of any kind, but particularly social anxiety: You’re not rude. I know you’re not. You know you’re not.
Sure, it may look that way to the outsider. The person you’re talking to may have no idea what in the world is wrong with you (especially if your armpits become drenched in sweat). But I know what it’s like to struggle with anxiety. I’m an expert in it (well, not in the sense that I have a degree in it, but I’ve sure lived it my whole life).
Keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Facing the fear of social situations is the only way to fight back against your anxiety. Keep pushing the conversation and find a common interest you share to get going on.
You will make friends, I promise. Forget about what others think and don’t get all worked up about them judging you. You are who you are, and you are wonderful.
And when in doubt, if you think you’re coming off as rude, just apologize and let the person know you’re anxious. They’ll understand and there is nothing wrong with admitting that fact.
Anxiety doesn’t need to add one more label to you. You’re not rude, my friend. And you are not alone in your anxiety.