What is Social Anxiety?
I’ve heard social anxiety defined as extreme shyness. In most cases, this is true. A child who has always been shy and who has experienced episodes that have caused him or her to withdraw further is likely to develop social anxiety.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case. A child (or adolescent or adult) who is naturally outgoing can develop social anxiety as a result of experiences and a tendency to be sensitive and easily hurt.
So this is my definition: social anxiety is a fear of people. In particular, it’s a fear of what those people think of “the sufferer” (for want of a better word).
I could go on to symptoms, causes, therapies, etc. I could say why most of us fear people to some extent but not everyone has social anxiety. And why, although social anxiety is very common, most people haven’t heard of it. In fact, I did all that in my book: Social Anxiety Revealed (first published in 2017).
OK, one more thing, because I’m amazed anyone would think otherwise, but I know some do.
A Freak? A Stroke of Luck?
“You have social anxiety? Then you must hate talking to an audience.”
The utterers of such statements are surprised by my response:
“No. I love performing.”
And I do. As long as I’ve worked out in advance what I’m going to say, I really enjoy being the focus of attention. I love it. It seems that my exhibitionist tendencies outweigh the fearful ones.
Just don’t make me get up on that podium without warning me beforehand.