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Social Anxiety: You Don't Have to Push Through It

Rebecca Hilliard

Guest Blogger

Social anxiety is one of those invisible battles that is rarely talked about. It can debilitate your life and there is so much stigma and shame around it. People who have never struggled with social anxiety don’t understand and it can be so difficult to talk about. It’s hard because you can want to be social and go out and do things but the anxiety that comes with it is so overwhelming.

I’ve had social anxiety for most of my life. I never talked about it because as a child I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know that not everyone felt the way I did. I played sports and hung out with friends but the anxiety I felt while doing those things was so intense. I didn’t know any better, though, so I just pushed through. I thought that everyone must feel the same way I did and I didn’t want to be seen as weak for speaking up about it. So I pushed through it and I pushed through it and by the time I reached my twenties, I couldn’t push through anymore. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted and I started falling apart. The panic attacks I was having got so bad that I had to move home from college. It wasn’t until I started seeing a therapist that I began to understand what anxiety was and that I had it. Finally being able to understand what social anxiety was helped me to understand myself more and realize that I didn’t have to keep pushing through it. I learned that there were ways to cope with it and I learned to give myself grace. I still struggle with it a lot but now I know that I’m not alone. Now I know what it is and I know that there are other people who understand what I’m going through. Having social anxiety can be so lonely because even though you want to be social and meet up with friends, sometimes it can feel like it’s too much. It’s like you have to choose between staying home and feeling less anxious or being with people and feeling so completely overwhelmed by anxiety. It’s OK to choose to stay home. It’s OK to take care of yourself. I know that it’s important to challenge the social anxiety, but it’s also important to take care of your mental health and make sure you’re not doing too much.

If going out and being with people feels like too much for you, there are other ways to find connection and support. WhiteFlag App is an amazing resource because it connects you with people who are going through similar things as you. It provides a way to make friends and get support without having to leave your house or go anywhere. If you struggle with social anxiety, you aren’t the only one. There are a lot of us who do. I hope you can give yourself some grace. It’s not your fault and recovery is possible.

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