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Social anxiety

Coming Out

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I’m not gay, but I’m coming out. The process has taken about seven years so far and I still don’t feel comfortable saying, “I have social anxiety.”

“What’s that?” is the typical response. No one asks that about being gay. Once the statement is made, it’s understood. Gayness … gaiety… homosexuality has become an accepted state. Similarly, depression is mostly understood. No one has to ask what depression is.

So what is it with SA? Why don’t people know about it? The definition of SA provides the answer. SA is a fear of people and particularly of what those people think of the sufferer. People with SA tend to avoid talking to others and often avoid social contact altogether. So other people don’t know they exist, or they don’t know what they’re thinking, why they’re so quiet.

That’s why SA doesn’t get the recognition it needs – we need – to fight it, destroy it, prevent it from starting even.

Why has it been so hard to come out? Because I’m afraid of the response. Afraid of the thoughts, even if they’re not spoken. Afraid of being thought strange, weird. It goes against my unwritten, unplanned life policy: to pretend to be the same as everyone else. It’s an impossible quest. You can’t miss out on so many basics of growing up and still behave in the accepted way in every situation. And yet, I still try to do it. And I imagine that by keeping quiet I’m not “found out,” although I know that this is untrue.

***

I’m going away and might not be able to post again this month. I’ll be back. In the meantime,

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By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life.

2 replies on “Coming Out”

I read this posting a couple of times to see if I understood it. I think a lot of people may be concerned about what others think of us and it is worse (or worst!) during the teenage years- the time that you say that SA developed in you. You can maybe learn not to let the opinions of others upset you or to take people at face value. I cope by getting very emotional – angry or tearful – and then it gets out of my system. Advice to those who are very shy – and this might be good advice for you is to assume that the other person is more important in their own eyes than you are and that that they don’t really have an opinion about you or what you do, think or say

Interesting idea, RHG. It could help in some cases, but might also boost an existing inferiority complex.

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