Does the thought of a public event bring you out in a rash? Do you spend all day talking yourself into going out, only to cancel at the last minute to hang out with your cat? Relax, you’re not weird, you probably have social anxiety, and that is a legit thing that affects 16.8% of Irish people. Our youth ambassador, Tanya, has some thoughts on this…
Confidence is an issue that affects women in all shapes in forms, like when you really want to do something, but your lack of confidence stops you. Growing up I found that my anxiety overpowered my life and inhibited me from doing things that most girls would find easy or would be considered the norm. From the time I entered secondary school till the time I left, each year got worse and worse.. things such as going to McDonalds to have something to eat with all my friends, I worried about what girls looked at me, what boys looked at me and what I looked like eating (how stupid I know!!). I couldn’t keep up conversation with people as I didn’t know what to say or how to interact, (I thought if I didn’t talk maybe nobody would notice me) and most of the time I looked at the floor to avoid making contact with people. I would rather die than go to school, too many people and too much interaction. When shopping and doing something as simple as picking up a bottle of perfume to smell it, my BRAIN would say “Tanya what are you doing? You can’t do this!”
“What is this illness?” I wondered…
“Social Anxiety!!!” My brain screamed back
Time passed me by as I sat in my bedroom with the door closed thinking “another day of the same thing, another day of hiding myself away”, because I knew it was easier that way. My friends went to college, I didn’t of course….. They made great friends and had great lives while I sat at home and wondered “Is this it for me??”
It continued right up until last summer when I realised enough was enough. This illness had taken over my whole life. Would I still be in this room 50 years from now feeling sorry for myself? No way.
My illness does not own my body I DO!!
I decided to apply for college and study something I had an interest in. Writing was something I did every day while trapped inside myself, so I applied for journalism. Don’t get me wrong it was completely out of my comfort zone and I believed I would never get it but it was worth a shot right? I pushed myself to do something that I never thought I would do. To my extreme surprise, I got accepted for the course, I worried all summer about it but at the same time I was delighted to be getting somewhere with my life! I look back and see that if I had never pushed myself outside the four walls of my bedroom I would still be in there now, living the same reality, miserable.
Now I am in college the happiest I have ever been, and although I do have a slight anxiety still I continue to get better every day.
If you want more information on Social Anxiety Social Anxiety Ireland and Reach Out are really good resources, check them out.