This is something that not many people will understand and unless you experience it, it is difficult to wrap your head around. Being both an extrovert and introvert at the same time is a real thing. Extroverts are known for their loud personalities, life of the party and people look up to them for always putting themselves out there. People assume extroverts could never be anxious socially and that is an “introvert thing.” In reality, nothing could be more inaccurate.
If you are both an extrovert and someone who deals with social anxiety, you are definitely not alone. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to put yourself out there and remain outgoing, but then once you are out there, you shut down. You begin to worry about saying the wrong things and that everyone around you does not want you there. Sometimes I will be around a group, joking around and then something clicks inside me that maybe these people do not want me there. That they are waiting for the moment I step out to actually enjoy their time.
I would definitely consider myself an extrovert.
I love socializing, putting myself out there and constantly making new friends; but I hate being alone and I embody what an extrovert should be. Except for one major thing – my social anxiety makes me feel like I am drowning. The sad part? Not many people take it seriously so when I tell them I am starting to feel anxious, they shrug their shoulders. People start to EXPECT you to always want to put yourself out there and be the life of the party. When sometimes, your brain is telling you to slow down and throwing thoughts in your head that you may just not be wanted there. I could be in a room with people I see every single day and sometimes still feel like I am drowning in that room, trying to save myself.
People with anxiety can NOT control this part of their brain.
So stop telling them to calm down or get over it. Someone once told me to “chill out because I am around these people all the time, I should not be anxious.” I will never understand why people assume that those who have anxiety, are okay with having anxiety and do it to themselves. The feeling of feeling suffocated because you just want to remove yourself from a situation, others are having a great time in, is not a good time.
People who deal with social anxiety want so badly to experience some events like others do. They want to be the person who can do a silly dance and not care what anyone around them is thinking. Extroverts with social anxiety definitely do not want to be anxious when they go out. I love social events. However, sometimes, I shut down. I can be having a great time and a switch will go off in my brain while I am in the middle of a conversation, laughing – and I turn into a completely different person.
I go completely silent and start to have an urge to just run away from the situation. Just get up and remove myself completely, otherwise I will remain suffocating until I have an anxiety attack and embarrass myself. Or what I think to be embarrassing. Sometimes I think about how I wish more people understood what it felt like so I was not so ashamed of my feelings. Then I remember, I probably do not want everyone to understand it because to understand, means you experienced it. So I guess I just wish more people empathized for those who deal with anxiety and not looked at it like regular nerves everyone deals with. Anxiety disorder is so much more.
So next time your friend who is the life of your party, tells you they do not want to be somewhere because they are feeling anxious. Believe them. Their feelings are real and others, like myself, experience it.