Sammy Nickalls
May 28, 2016 6:00 am
Shutterstock

Living with social anxiety is like having a voice in your head constantly saying that you’re not good enough, and no one else will ever think you’re good enough. It orders you to panic in the middle of a totally normal conversation, it flushes your face bright red when someone asks you a question, and it makes you constantly question everything that makes you you.

But perhaps the hardest part of having social anxiety is making friends. Here are all things no one gets about getting close to new people when you have social anxiety.

1. The concept of “making friends” is anxiety-inducing all on its own.

Navigating simple social situations can be very uncomfortable for someone with social anxiety, but making friends is downright terrifying, because it involves letting people in — and what if they reject us?

2. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want friends!

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Just because we’re socially anxious doesn’t mean we’re hermits or recluses. We don’t want to be alone; in fact, many of us cherish deep, beautiful conversations with people we trust. It can just be hard to get to that place. We wish we could skip over all the small chat and just get to the comfortable, warm “friend” part.

3. Making a friend organically is a lot harder for someone with social anxiety.

All around us, people seem to just meet by happenstance, realize they have a lot in common, and become fast friends — just like that! But for people with social anxiety, finding someone in whom we can place our trust can be a lot more complicated — like being asked to dance with two left feet.

4. In fact, sometimes, it feels like everyone else was handed a “how to make friends” manual and ours was lost in the mail.

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How do they do it so easily, without having to give it a second thought? How do they just fall into a happy, friendly relationship with someone, without doubting themselves or questioning anything at all? It’s hard not to feel like there’s a piece missing within us, like there’s something wrong with us, because we give so much thought to something that seems so natural to others.

5. Having something major in common — like working at the same place or being in the same class — really aids the process.

We’re not the partying type of people, and we certainly can’t walk right up to a group and introduce ourselves. Meeting someone through a common interest, like work or school, helps smooth that scary introductory period and automatically gives us a breadth of topics to choose from.

6. Even after a “successful” social interaction, we still doubt ourselves.

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To outsiders, that conversation we just had with that awesome co-worker may have seemed perfectly normal and pleasant. But we’re too busy repeating every single word we said in our head, over and over, dissecting each response and finding every way we could have been misinterpreted — and we often come to the conclusion that it was an ultimate fail. That’s why even the most lovely social interactions can be exhausting in the mind of someone with social anxiety.

7. And when we do make a friend, it can be hard to believe it’s real.

Even if that classmate we really enjoy has been texting us and asking to hang out, we can’t help but wonder if they’re doing it out of pity. Even if social interactions have all the makings of a budding friendship, we are afraid it’s not real, because we’re so afraid of investing ourselves only to be let down and feel like a failure.

8. But one thing’s for sure: We cherish the friends we *do* have more than anything else in this world.

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Communicating with others may not be easy for us, and we may not have a million friends like all those social butterflies around us. But that just makes our loved ones even more special in our eyes! We invest all our social energy into the people we hold dear and we’d do anything for them. Making friends with someone with social anxiety may not be easy initially, but we’ll certainly make it worth your while. <3

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