Having social anxiety is so much more than being “shy,” and this thread nails it
Social anxiety is experiencing fear about being judged negatively by other people in social situations, which leads those who have it to feel inadequate, inferior, self-conscious, embarrassed, or even depressed. It’s far more nuanced and complicated than just “oh haha I hate people, I love staying home.”
Which is why this viral Twitter thread is so important — people everywhere who have social anxiety are sharing their experiences to help others better understand.
Social anxiety disorder is an incredibly common issue. Some people have specific, situational anxieties; for others it’s more general. In the U.S., studies show social anxiety disorder as the third largest psychological disorder in the country, after depression and alcoholism.
Being in social situations with others who are outgoing and effortlessly social can make you feel like you’re under a microscope. Suddenly, a simple family party or a gathering of friends and acquaintences brings on a sense of hyper self-awareness, and you feel like you stand out like a sore thumb.
Personally, I have a tendency to do a post-game analysis of every single detail and conversation of a social situation. I will agonize over whether or not I should have said something, and will endlessly wonder if my presence in any given social event was “too much” or “not enough.”
Another important thing to remember — having social anxiety is not the same thing as “being shy.” AT ALL.
The worst part is feeling like everyone can sniff out your discomfort.
In my pre-mom life, I was super involved in community theater. Being onstage in front of a hundred people didn’t bother me in the least — not even being onstage while 25 pounds overweight in a negligee (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, if you’re curious). Because on stage, I wasn’t myself. But you know what downright crippled me? Having to sweat through small talk with the audience members post-show. I felt stupid. Awkward. I was certain they were all talking about how fat I was, how talentless I was.
Having social anxiety is fucking brutal.
Raise your hand if becoming a mom has made your social anxiety worse. We spend so much time around our little ones, or at home, and not going out at all ever — that we feel like we really don’t know how to be in the same room as other adult humans anymore.
People with social anxiety disorder — we know our anxiety is irrational. It doesn’t make sense a lot of the time. Reading threads like this and knowing other people understand helps a lot.
For more information on social anxiety disorder and treatment options, head over to the National Institute of Mental Health.
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