Maybe you’re someone like me who suffers from social anxiety. You live day by day feeling lonelier and lonelier. I’d like to start by reminding you that you’re not alone.
If you’re not someone like me, then I ask simply that you try to understand before reading on. People generally feel sensitive about this topic and don’t like to bring it up. I know I feel reluctant writing about it.
An article stumbled across my desk recently discussing social media and its effect on people with social anxiety. This caught my interest because I don’t use social media much myself. Yet, I’ve been attempting to recently as I endeavor to make a living freelance writing. I’ve been struggling and this article confirmed why.
To sum it up, people with social anxiety tend to focus too much on everyone else’s appearance on screen. Often feeling self-conscious about their own page.
Compare and Despair
Every generation has had their own definition of what’s cool. Ours is no different except in one aspect. We have two forms of human interaction. One being what has always been, face to face confrontation. The other occurring entirely behind a screen.
We can experience social interaction in the comforts of our solitude. With that, you’d figure people with social anxiety would finally have an outlet of their own. In some sense, they do when considering the variety of websites offered. However, with common sites like FaceBook or Twitter, this is anything but the case.
Social media can actually invoke anxiety according to Mental Health Consultants Nationally. What’s been termed as “compare-and-despair” is used to explain a behavioral pattern witnessed notably in young people. To relate your life to another person’s based on internet posts.
This was something that happened to me in high school before I could understand “compare-and-despair”. Admittedly, at the time, I considered myself depressed. I deleted my social media in college and a huge weight was lifted off of me. I no longer felt pressured by my high school reputation.
The Business World and Social Media
I’m at the point in my life where I need to get my career moving. Therefore, I’ve been creating accounts on sites like Linked In. This tends to leave me feeling inadequate as I end up glimpsing at someone else’s profile and all of their acknowledgements.
With a lack of professional experience in writing, I find it difficult to get my name out there. Having social anxiety, I find it overwhelming seeing all the accomplishments of others. I’ve always known about the competition my career holds. It’s when I saw it first-hand that I realized I’ve got a lot of work to do.
Luckily, I’m only 21 and still have time to learn. Yet, I often wonder about people older than me who lack experience in their career choices. It has to be daunting to be forty and come across some 25 year old kid whose got it all worked out for himself.
Social media is one of the strongest tools in today’s business world. It convienently helps recruiters decipher the qualified from the inefficient. Though I understand why this is good for a big company, it isn’t benefitting someone who considers themselves self-conscious.
Socially anxious people who fail to obtain work have the tendency to give up on their confidence. The competition feels like too much and our solitude is comfier.
Just as I struggled to fit in during high school, I unsuringly attempt to make a name for myself in the real world. Trying to figure out the right steps in building a qualified reputation.
Our Desire for the Real World
According to anxiety.org, the apprehension from social media doesn’t develop from the content itself. Rather, it derives from not being able to access that content in the real world. This could explain why some people are addicted to social media. They depend on getting real world substances in a virtual fashion.
Whether it be the giant party you weren’t invited to or the authors club that found your work inadequate, you’re being left out where you wanted to be apart. Looking across the pictures of these events only deepens your pain.
Social media’s strong connection to what’s actually happening is the reason for its popularity. In a sense, we’re allowed to advertise ourselves any way we want. Having full control over what’s being witnessed when our name is searched.
To someone with social anxiety, this is considerably another reluctant step in being apart of society. Especially in terms of business, where we must fight for what we’re passionate to do.
As I grew as a writer, I never intended to put somebody else’s work down. Yet, the more I find my way into the world, the more I have to prove that I’m better. If I don’t, I’ll never get the jobs necessary to pay my bills.
Being someone with social anxiety, it’s difficult for me to have full confidence in myself. When it comes to my work, I put everything I’ve got into it. Still, the lack of “likes” leaves me feeling as if I’m not good enough. I’ll think that someone else out there is already doing this right and the writing world doesn’t need me.
Social anxiety is a struggle. It’s something I’ll have to fight my whole life. But I remember that I’m not alone in this battle. That there are people out there who, likewise, have difficulty in making a name for themselves simply due to a mental flaw.
Featured Image Artist: Justin Touchon of the McGill Tribune (original source)