To Be Open or not to be Open?

Recently I’m turning over in my mind the question of being open about my social anxiety with other people. Telling anecdotes about “that awkward moment when” seems to be a new craze and naturally I’ve got plenty of them up my sleeve. But admitting to people that what you’ve got isn’t just shyness but an actual condition is a whole other ball game. I keep imagining possible situations and what people might say if I was open about it. The idea of it is strangely appealing, yet not quite appealing enough just yet. I imagine many would be very understanding about it, others might get kind of preachy, some sceptical, and others might think I’m attention-seeking.

Is it worth it? Does opening up bring relief or is it best not to tell the whole world? Should you just save it for trusted friends? Or would it be good to raise more awareness for issues like this that not everyone knows exist? I saw some stats somewhere that S.A.D is the third most common mental health problem after depression and alcoholism. If so, we could have all met someone that has this and never known.

If somebody could give me a witty or insightful reply to the question, “So are you usually quite a shy person then?” that’d be great. Saying, “Oh I have social anxiety and I always get tongue-tied when I meet new people,” seems rather a severe bomb to drop on someone you’ve only just met. What do you say?? I usually end up apologetically saying “Kind of, sorry” or “Not always,” but this is a conversation killer and makes me sound like an uninteresting and/or dumb person, which is hardly the first impression I want to give.

Then again, I’m not sure why these people think “Are you always this shy?” is a socially acceptable thing to say. What kind of answer do they expect? Pointing out a stranger or acquaintance’s apparent personality defect simply isn’t kind, even if said with good intentions, and it’s certainly not going to break the ice.

I know that this blog is so new that nobody’s really reading yet, but if by some small chance anyone is, I’d love it if anyone has any suggestions or answers to leave a comment.

 

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3 thoughts on “To Be Open or not to be Open?

  1. Dear one, I am reading your post, I have been reading it since your Door Knocking article. I think that your blog is helping you find your voice, it did for me! The answer to your question is both yes and no. Let me explain. I have social anxiety disorder in addition to general anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. The reason I can offer you advice and/or answer your question is that I think I am a bit older than you are, and I have lived with all of this since I was 12, and I am now about to be 55. YES, we need to not be afraid to talk about it openly, the more we do this, the closer we get to removing the stigma that society attaches to these things. But, NO, do not tell everyone! We are still in an age where secrets are not kept, and there are people who will try to use your problems against you. You have to be able to recognize when the situation calls for you to speak up. Perhaps you hear someone talking about this problem in regards to another person and they don’t seem to understand. You can then speak up and let them know how it is from your side of the fence. Talk about it here on the blog, it will help you figure out how you like to express yourself about it. Don’t talk about it at work. Do talk about it with your friends and family. If you belong to a church and attend regularly, talk about it there too.

    Yes, it is rude for someone to comment on your apparent shyness. Gracious people will not make that comment but instead they will try to engage you in the conversation. But people are rude these days, so you can expect to hear that comment. I think you can answer them several ways. If you don’t feel comfortable explaining the actual condition or you think it would make your other companions uncomfortable, just answer “yes, in fact, I AM a bit shy, how sweet of you to notice!” If they are asking and don’t seem rude but sincere, you could say ” well I am feeling a little anxious right now, this sometimes happens when I meet new people, please don’t take it personally. Perhaps if you ask me some questions it would help me warm up and relax.”

    Are you still selling Avon? I found that when I began selling Avon, it gave me a “legitimate” reason to talk to people. The more I talked to them, the more often they would come to me and start a conversation. I found that if they started the conversation, I could easily pick it up and talk. After several months, I realized I could talk about things besides Avon and that people were actually interested in hearing what I had to say! I know you said you were going to stop selling when you went back to school, but you can still use the same principle. Find something to talk to people about, something that is not personal at all, and practice starting conversations. I promise you this will work. You have what it takes to do this, you ARE brave, you ARE courageous and you do have a VOICE!

    I know this is a long answer, but I hope it helps you in some way.

    Like

    1. Thank you for commenting, you make some really valuable points. It isn’t really necessary for everyone to know is it? I haven’t really talked to family and friends about it a lot, a couple of people know, but I don’t want to make people worried. I am still doing Avon, and it’s beginning to get a bit easier. The other evening I started delivering some orders but found after the first door I’d shaken off much of the nervousness, so I just kept on delivering orders to people because I had to make the most of not feeling nervous! Anyway, some great ideas there that I’ll try a bit more, thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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