Monday, December 8, 2014

Social Anxiety

It was 1 p.m. and the lecture would start in about 30 minutes. After giving a few of my coursemates what I hoped was a smile (I've been told that when I pull a hesitant smile, I still look like I'm frowning), I settled in my seat and pulled out Jane Eyre from my backpack and continued where I'd left off the other day. I do need to stop picking up other books and just finish this one. I mean, it's been a few weeks since I've started reading Jane Eyre and I still have yet to finish it! 

A few pages into the book and just when I started to wonder if Mr. Rochester will make it on my list of crush-worthy fictional characters (FYI, I'm only 40 pages in and haven't met Mr. Rochester yet. I only heard stuff about him from friends who have read the book...), a friend poked her head into the classroom and called my name. She asked me to follow her to the lounge area just outside the room.

So, there I went and chose a seat facing her and the rest of her friends, most of whom are strangers to me. They talked about the prom night event our college is hosting and asked me what I planned to wear to that event. After answering that question and apparently they only wanted to know about my choice of outfit, I just sat there and ... well, listened in on their conversation, silently.

And here's where my social anxiety comes in: I don't know them well enough and I'm a naturally awkward person and add my social anxiety to the combination, you'll get frozen Grace. Grace sitting there with tense shoulders and a fake smile (but most times, a genuine frown) plastered on her face. I don't know when is the right time for me to contribute my thoughts to the conversation. I mean, what if they just don't... care about what I have to say or worse, they don't get any lame jokes I make and then insist that I explain what I mean.

There have been numerous times when I tried to make a joke in group conversations and ended up spending a minute or two trying to explain the joke to all of my friends. It was exceedingly awkward and explaining a joke just immediately makes the joke unfunny (even when they FINALLY get it).

I find that whenever I have to talk to more than one person at a time, I just get nervous and would withdraw myself from them. I don't do well with crowds unless it is for a group discussion in class. I very much prefer to have one-on-one chats. That way, we could have deep conversations and I'd be able to just focus on one person instead of making sure that the other members don't get left out (but of course, I'm the one who would silently withdraw myself from the conversation and stay mum throughout the entire chat). 

I've always thought that the fact that I tend to keep to myself especially when I'm in a crowd is due to me being an introvert. But then, it could also be social anxiety on my behalf. I'm not sure if it's just me but I get nervous about making telephone calls. 

I remember that when I was still in primary school and am allowed to use the landline to call my friends, I would jot down some 'issues' that I'd like to talk about with my friend over the phone in case I miss out anything during our chat. I would then cross each item off the list as we talked through each issue. Before making any calls, my heart would start beating faster and at times when I'm more nervous than usual, my palms would start to get sweaty... That was then and now, even though I don't jot down anything I wanna say before making a call, I still get nervous about calling anyone . Well, anyone other than  my parents and sister, I suppose. 

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