If you don’t have anything meaningful to say, don’t. Don’t chatter for endless amounts of time about trivial topics. If you know me well (or don’t) you know that in real life I’m fairly quiet. I don’t really care to share details about my life unless asked.
It’s really hard for me getting married and everyone wants to know every detail of Tim and I’s relationship. How we met, how we dated, about him, about me…the never ending talking about yourself is overwhelming.
The other day someone tweeted at me about going up to NYC. I fear them a lot. I don’t like cities as much as I don’t like babbling about myself. I can talk about running all day because it’s not really about me…it’s about my (or your) running.
How does that tweet about hating cities relate to me not liking to talk about myself?
The tweet eventually led into the topic of why don’t you like cities…why do you fear them? Well if you have been following my blog for a while (or know me in real life…gasp…outside the internet who knew?) then you know I have social anxiety. It manifested itself around sophomore year of college and it has been something I’ve dealt with on and off since. There have been times it’s been worse (when I found myself crying hysterically to call my boss or when I had a panic attack at a college party) but there have been times (like now) that is hasn’t been a big deal…so I don’t make it a big deal.
My social anxiety has never manifested itself on the internet. Let’s be honest, you can be anyone you want on the internet. I could be a 50 year old balding man and you would never know.
Why I love blogging so much is that it is as fast or slow paced as you want. If I want to “read” and interact with 100 bloggers in five minutes…I can. If I want to slowly take my time and read 1 blog per hour…I can. There isn’t any time crunch or pressure to “read all the blogs” and “do all the things”. So yes, one could argue that internet wise I have absolutely no anxiety. To be clear, I’m not saying the internet is my comfort zone I’m saying that you can never truly get a 100% accurate sense of anyone through just the internet.
My social anxiety comes about in two different patterns. It isn’t the typical afraid to meet new people pattern that most people associate social anxiety with. Meeting new people and talking in front of people have never given me issues.
First, I hate crowded places. Things like concerts, extremely crowded restaurants or large cities, I avoid like the plague. Running the New York City Marathon was a big deal for me because it is so big and in a city I’m uncomfortable in. I made it and survived but I could not have done that without my brother and dad. I would not have done it.
The second aspect that I deal with is the fear of judgment on certain things. I never know how much to share or not share. This includes blogging and real life. I write short posts because I don’t really know how much people want to know or read. I don’t talk about myself a lot in real life because I don’t know how much people really want to know.
If I don’t have anything to say…I don’t. Sometimes in “real life”, if there is a long awkward silence than that is fine with me…I don’t care. I don’t mean to be standoffish or just ignore people (I don’t do that either). I just don’t really feel the need to fill the space. Here is the best example I can use about someone saying “how was your day?”
I’ll typically respond something like “good, just worked but nothing too exciting” versus something like“it was good, worked and checked emails in the morning, went to lunch at Panera and in the afternoon I had meetings at 1 and 2 and then did some more email work at 3”…
Social anxiety is not easy and it’s not simply something “you can get over”. I’m glad that I’m not suffering as I was in early college but it is something I occasionally have problems with. I’m not having paniac attacks as I was in early college but I still struggle from time to time.
I’ll post about steps I’ve taken to be proactive or any questions about it next week. No questions today, but feel free to post thoughts, comments, questions or anything else.