Social Anxiety Things People Do
Do you feel misunderstood because of your social anxiety? If so, know that you are not alone.
The truth is that there are probably a lot of things that you do that people don’t realize you are doing because of your social anxiety.
I decided to put together a list. Maybe you can relate to these? Or maybe someone out there will read them and think twice before passing judgment in a social situation.
Here we go…
This one is probably one of the more obvious things a person with social anxiety does that those around them might not recognize as a sign of social anxiety.
You might want to contribute to the conversation but your anxiety prevents it.
You might think of something to say only after everyone else has moved on to another topic.
Or, you might even speak up, but talk so quietly that nobody hears you or everyone talks over you.
Talking Fast or Rambling
What’s the opposite of staying quiet due to social anxiety?
It’s talking too fast or rambling through a conversation. Social anxiety can create a feeling of urgency, like you need to rush through what you are saying without taking a breath.
This can happen especially if you feel like you are the center of attention and want to shift it away from you.
It can also happen if there is an awkward silence in a conversation, and you start to worry that the other person thinks you are weird for not talking.
Leaving a Situation or Canceling Plans
Have you ever escaped from a situation or canceled plans with someone because of your social anxiety.
Unfortunately, if the other person didn’t know you did it because of your social anxiety, they might have assumed you were bored or disinterested.
Watching for Signs of Rejection
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and been hypervigilant for signs that they didn’t like you?
Or given a presentation and kept scanning the room looking for people who look bored.
This can make it hard to follow conversations and just relax and be yourself. And it’s something most people won’t even realize you are doing.
Taking a Long Time to Do Something
Have you ever taken a long time to return a phone call, sat in your car for a while at the grocery store, or waited too long to say something in a group conversation?
Have you ever waited to use a public restroom stall until you were sure everyone had left the restroom?
If so you are not alone, and you’re probably doing these things because of your social anxiety.
You might even let calls go to voicemail, and then make it harder on yourself because you wait so long to call people back.
Being Annoyed or Irritated
Anxiety can actually make you annoyed or irritated when you don’t mean to be.
It’s just all that nervous energy bubbling below the surface that can cause you to snap or be nasty with the people you love.
And, unfortunately, they may not realize that it’s your anxiety causing you to act that way.
Do you twirl your hair, bite your nails, pick at your skin, or fidget with whatever is in your hands?
This can make you appear less confident than those who are more relaxed, and most people will assume that your anxious (but they may not realize that you are socially anxious).
Choosing a Specific Seat
Have you ever chosen your seat because of your social anxiety?
By this I mean, choosing to sit with your back to the wall, near the exit, or at the end of the table (so you’re not between two people needing to make conversation)?
Most people won’t realize that these types of choices are running through your mind when you enter a room.
Or sometimes even when you are just planning to go somewhere.
Rehearsing What to Say
How about standing in line at a fast-food restaurant rehearsing what you are going to order?
Or rehearsing what you are going to say on the telephone?
These are totally normal things people with social anxiety do, but that most people won’t realize that you are doing.
They don’t realize how much extra effort you have to put in to do the things other people do without thinking about them every day.
Missing Parts of a Conversation
Have you ever realized that you missed part of a conversation because you zoned out?
Maybe your anxious thoughts made it hard to pay attention, or maybe there was too much sensory overload and stimulation, and you went somewhere else in your head.
The worst part is that if anyone picks up on the fact that you missed part of what they said, they will think that you were just being rude and not paying attention.
Wearing Certain Clothes or Hairstyles
Does your hairstyle help to hide your face or do your clothes help you hide your body?
Do you choose these things because of your social anxiety and not because of what you like or what you think looks nice or trendy?
These are things people probably don’t realize you are doing because of social anxiety.
How often have you been told that you seem standoffish or like a snob?
This can happen if you make a habit out of ignoring people in social situations.
Maybe you pretend to be texting on your phone so that you don’t have to talk because of your social anxiety.
Or maybe you have a “resting bitch face” because you are afraid that nobody likes you and wouldn’t want to talk to you anyway.
Sweating or Shaking
Yep, these are signs of social anxiety but people might just think there is something else wrong with you.
If you tend to sweat in social situations, they might think you are hot or sick.
If you tend to shake, they might think you’re not feeling well or that you are having a nervous breakdown.
When in reality, it’s all just due to your social anxiety and being around people. The sweating and shaking never happens when you are alone.
Putting Yourself Down
Do you have a tendency to put yourself down in social situations?
This can also be something others don’t realize you are doing because of social anxiety. They might just think you have low self-esteem or that you aren’t very confident.
Being a Perfectionist
Have you ever written a social media status and then spent an hour rewording it and trying to decide whether to post it?
Most people don’t realize that social anxiety can appear as a form of perfectionism about social situations.
You might feel like you have to say the perfect thing or act the perfect way. It makes every situation exhausting.
Being a People Pleaser
Social anxiety might also cause you to be a people pleaser. You might go along with what other people want, because it is easier than trying to voice your own opinion.
Or, you might have strong empathy that makes it hard for you to say no or go against what would make someone else happy.
Research has actually shown that people with social anxiety have naturally higher empathy. But for some reason, it doesn’t translate into being better at dealing with people.
Avoiding People You Know in Public
Last but not least, have you ever dodged behind a tree because you thought you saw someone you knew?
Have you ever gone the other way at the grocery store to avoid making small talk with a person in the aisle?
If you do these things because of your social anxiety, not everyone will realize that’s why you are doing it.
And some people might think that you are just unfriendly.
Well, that’s my big list. What about you? Are there things you do that you would like other people to know you do because of social anxiety?