Updated: Apr 2, 2022
Worrying is a common emotion
We have all faced a sense of unease or nervousness in our lives. It is an emotion, and experiencing it from time to time due to situations in life is alright. But when a social gathering or public speaking event occurs and there is a sense of worry to interact with people socially- the person deals with social anxiety. With more than 1 million cases in India and 15 million American adults, this has become one of the most common anxiety disorders. The average age group estimated at which social anxiety begins from 11-to 19. However, based on the symptoms of how people behave when experiencing social anxiety, this age group is overshadowed by troubled youth in their 20s and 30s.
Stress in social situations
An individual who deals with social anxiety would go through social situations/scenarios in addition to stress in them. They fear attending social gatherings due to fear of humiliation directed at them. We all attend gatherings, and it is impossible to NOT be social in life- either for private or professional life reasons. This leads to poor social skills that do not improve with time because the person dealing with social anxiety is mentally disturbed. From making eye contact to dating, almost every typical life event we consider seems terrifying to them.
Social anxiety does not come alone
Mentally this would take a toll on them when they do not socialize. It would lead to feeling lonely, and most of the time, anxiety does not come in alone. Once this sets in, a repetition of avoiding social contact would lead to depression,low-self esteem, sensitivity to criticism, and negative thoughts. It would directly impact relationships/friendships because confronting social anxiety would not be taken lightly. This is because of the fear that others would notice- when they are anxious.
Emotionally unavailable to bond
A person dealing with social anxiety would avoid dating or find it hard to maintain relationships. This is because they fear emotional attachment and vulnerability. Opening up to a partner would be challenging because it is hard for them to let their guard down.
This shows how essential it is to stay mentally healthy and fit. It also shows the lack of knowledge regarding mental health issues. Most parents force their children to participate in activities or friends do not see the signs/ignore them.
Environment plays a role
Their environment would also be the cause of social anxiety. Critical parents give an authoritarian figure who cannot be disappointed. It directly leads the child to worry if they do not excel in an activity- they are a failure. This gives an open door for anxiety to enter at a young age- and it would grow if not recognized and treated. While anxiety is considered genetic, it can still be influenced by environmental factors that affect someone mentally to worry.
Social anxiety is not limited to only introverts, as extroverts would experience it too. There is a sense of people-pleasing to satisfy when it comes to extroverts, as not being liked by everyone would seem to be a nightmare when they deal with social anxiety. The fear of being left out hits them hard. It becomes an obsession to be socially invited to everything or feels rejected. When no social interaction is present, they feel low, and the urge to socialize might also build up.
Overthinking is an issue extroverts face when they deal with social anxiety. They are so focused on pleasing and satisfying others that when plans do not go their way, they overthink the situation.
Introversion and social anxiety are two very different things compared to being the same. But research does suggest that social anxiety is more common among introverts than extroverts. Introverts feel drained through socializing with people, whereas a person with social anxiety feels worried about socializing with people- mainly due to the outcome and is stressed about it. There is a significant difference between the two. Similarities would consist of very few, such as disliking confrontation, shyness, etc.
We play a role
Environmental factors that cause social anxiety range from being embarrassed in front of a vast crowd or trauma gained due to an unfortunate incident in life. If not being exposed to a social environment at a young age, i.e., restrictions set by controlling- obsessive parents, this could be a reason. Society plays a huge role in building a better community for ourselves. But societal pressure and stress also cause anxiety in meeting specific parameters of not being a failure, reputation, etc. Society is filled with people who throw judgments at anybody without boundaries. This causes anxiety in many teens and adults in fear of being humiliated and judged. They would eventually burn out physically and mentally trying to be a perfectionist in everything they do. This is why- keeping a check on mental health is essential at all costs.