One time, I wanted to write about social anxiety as a caption for one of my Instagram posts. I’d typed out a lot of words then I thought it was ridiculously insane to use that as a caption.
‘it’s way too long ‘Kele. nobody will read it. Plus this is Nigeria what is social anxiety, lol’
And many more thoughts came and went, and I kept editing and taking out words till it was almost empty, short enough to be read. Scanty enough to not expose me.
The thing about these thoughts, they don’t end at my Instagram captions. They’re there when I walk into a room full of people, when I step out of my gate, sometimes even when I’m talking to family.
I’m always so consumed by needless worry, sometimes I have the most irrational fears. I carry at least 2 bottles of perfume oils that I use impulsively because God forbid someone says I smell funny (when I was much younger and it was ridiculous to ask for antiperspirant because “it’s not for children” I tried spraying air-freshener a couple of times. Dear Lord!). If I ever get invited to a black tie event agent, I’ll definitely think 10 times before I go again. The last one I went, my eyes almost popped out of my sockets looking left and right, finding someone that looked like “housegirl” like me.
‘oh my, they can see that my dress is so old and maybe a tad bit too tight around the belly. They can see my makeup was done in a rush and I’m carrying my throw about bag”
Although, honestly I know I probably don’t put in enough work half the time. If you want to look a particular way, you have to do the work required. You don’t show up in all ill-fitting dress and expect to look like Cinderella.
I’m naturally not a shy person. I am a chatterbox! A people person! I can be funny, mischievous and occasionally charming But I have an Achilles Heel called social anxiety. Whenever I’m intimidated by someone, even a little bit, I panic. If I perceive that you don’t like me, there’s a good chance I’ll ghost immediately.
On this side of town, that’s easily misconceived to be pride or you’re just being stuck up. Often times I’ve been told ‘stop forming’. LOL.
We all know the feeling of being nervous or uncomfortable in a social situation but when you have social anxiety, You might avoid all social contact because things that other people consider “normal” — like making small talk and eye contact — make you so uncomfortable. You run away from talking to strangers (I avoid this as much as I can, except I’m in a group of people I’m comfortable with, or I’m intoxicated), Speaking in public, Dating, Making eye contact, Entering rooms, Using public restrooms (half the time I carry a full bladder back home), Going to parties, Eating in front of other people (I hate strangers watching me eat, I always pick the most secluded seat in the room), Starting conversations.
Social anxiety disorder prevents you from living your life. You’ll avoid situations that most people consider “normal.” You might even have a hard time understanding how others can handle them so easily.
When you avoid all or most social situations, it affects your personal relationships. It can also lead to Low self-esteem, Negative thoughts, Depression, Sensitivity to criticism and Poor social skills that don’t improve.
The first thing I did that helped was to speak to a doctor. I asked for help, not because I knew exactly what was wrong but I knew something was wrong and I couldn’t keep acting like its not a big deal. If you think something could be wrong, please speak to someone.
Take little steps. I go for a lot of events because of the nature of what I do, and often times it is required of me to network and socialize. Before, I’d take 2 shots of
vodka on my way out to help me loosen up instead of not showing up at all which eventually became one shot (sometimes I don’t at all). THIS IS SURELY NOT A RECOMMENDATION FOR ANYONE PLIS DEARS! All I’m saying is find what works for you. if it’s putting on your sunglasses in a room (as against not going at all) then why not?
Put some effort. Going for an event? Dress appropriately and comfortably so you don’t feel left out. the worst thing is to be underdressed.
Accept yourself. I discovered that one of the factors that made my condition worse was my weight gain. I went from abs (that I worked my ass off to get) to belly-bigger-than-boobs and I couldn’t bear to get bigger clothes so I’d try to squeeze myself in my tiny clothes and spend the whole day dealing with the fear of
“can they see my belly and flabby arms”. I refused to go back to the gym because I couldn’t go back to start from scratch. Nobody must see me struggling to do burpees with my pot belly. Guess what? what anyone thinks of your flabby arms and pot belly is absolutely NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
Do I like my body? Not right now.
Do I look great regardless? yes, I do.
Will I get my body to look like I want? I will.
Am I doing the work, yes I am.
So now when I’m out and someone passes a comment like
‘wow you’re now fat o! what did you eat? better go to the gym’
I don’t cuss myself in my head for leaving home. I smile, turn around and walk away so you can get a good look at my bum, LOL.
I mostly won’t be the smartest, prettiest or the best dressed in the room and that’s absolutely okay.