• Albert Keirkenhaur
    37
    I myself have Social Anxiety. When I am out and about it feels like everyone simply watches everything I do, even though it isn't the case. It's an irrational and excessive fear of judgment, unacceptance, and embarrassment. And amidst the fear, people with SA are often not too good at holding a conversation one on one, just like myself. When talking to another human, I stutter, get bad posture, fidget, don't know what to say, zone out, and stuff of the sort. Suffice to say it isn't enjoyable. When you have this disorder, everyone else is considered by you as ''normal people'' to an extent. You wonder how they just... DO things so easily. You wonder why they can hold a conversation and maintain eye contact and good posture and know exactly what to say and you don't. You see yourself as socially and perhaps emotionally deficient. The key figure of this discussion - The communication between human beings and the modes in which this system functions. In retrospect to SA, whether or not individuals with this disorder have a sort of 'window' into the absurd nature of language and communication, and the possibility that it is this awareness that we wrestle with which troubles us in various degrees and forms.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    Perhaps a chemical imbalance? I recall that I had anxiety attacks when I had to address large groups, and while it may sound funny, I found that 2 Harvey Wallbangers loosened me up, without too much of an adverse affect. Of course it must suck if you find your self anxious in all social interactions, but perhaps there are medical solutions that could help. I still remember my heart pounding and how my sentences fractured when I spoke, I outgrew it and the Harvey Wallbangers .
  • Albert Keirkenhaur
    37
    Perhaps chemical imbalance is at fault, or at least a major player.
    In my case and perhaps with your anxiety as well, it always felt/feels like there's a ''correct'' response to everything. And although there is no such thing, it feels like I must carefully reiterate my dialogue into just the right thing to say. I constantly catch myself saying insignificant awkward things, and I dwell on it for a while. It's like there is a 'proper' way to communicate. But there isn't. In the ''The Babble of Babies'' discussion, it was said that ''adult'' language has been recognized as the ''proper'' way to speak and that any other mode of communicating is deficient in some way. In other words, the system of speech you and me use has been set unto us by our formers. (formers meaning any person who has ever spoken to you.) And their system was set unto them by their formers. As my dad had once said;
    ''you know what every clock on Earth is based off of? Another clock.''
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    I did not feel anxious when conversing with others or even in small groups, it was only in situations where I was addressing large groups. The affect, on me, was primarily physical. I could feel, almost hear my heart pounding, my speech as it fractured.

    I found that I could channel my nervous energy into what I was talking about, initially by almost shouting >:O , and over time it became more natural, and my anxiety left me. Although I am still a little leery about talking in from of large groups, which I don't have to do at this point in my life.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    I don't know a lot about "social anxiety" per se, but I do think we run self-defeating tapes in our minds that get in our way. Of course, the tapes don't have a convenient off-switch. For instance, a lot of people (like me) are perfectionists. It isn't that we ever remotely approach perfection -- we may not even come close to mediocrity -- but we think we should be perfect. We fail and then feel worse and fear the next time.

    Maybe we think we should be like somebody else, somebody who really is a great public speaker. Naturally we don't measure up and this makes us feel bad.

    We often think that the world will stop spinning if we don't do a perfect job. Everyone will be dismayed by our poor performance; we will be shamed. Of course, the world does keep spinning, and people generally are not as demanding as we ourselves are.

    My advice: accept the situation: you have an anxiety disorder. It get's in the way. You might have to just live with it. I'm not preaching defeatism here: Rather, I'm suggesting that you lower the stakes a little.

    Have you tried any therapy? There are some approaches, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), that might help. There is also speech therapy (dealing with anxiety). Maybe a tranquilizer would help. Do you think your social anxiety disorder was learned? Maybe it can be unlearned -- that's kind of what CBT attempts to do.

    Have you tried yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques? Have you tried visualizing the kind of social interactions you would like to have (It's not magic, but it does seem to improve performance to some degree).

    The important thing is, though, keep being social as much as you can.
  • Albert Keirkenhaur
    37
    I'm currently in therapy, and my therapist is interested in my interest in existential and absurdist philosophy for my age. (i'm 17 though, a rather typical age to run into existential walls.) I try and hint to him that my anxiety around other humans could be somewhat affected by all this existential knowledge being juggled around in my brain on a daily basis. And I feel like there's a part within me that feels bad for everyone else.. everyone who hasn't picked up philosophy. I know I know it seems rather ignorant to think that but I swear philosophy is the thing that can make people love one another and themselves more than just about anything else.
  • Hoo
    415

    I don't think it's ignorant at all, especially if one means philosophy at its best. I think Blake was right when he called true religion the cultivation of the intellect (self-knowledge, etc.). On the other hand, religion as accusation or the obsession with an impossible and self-ignorant innocence he associated with false or anti-religion. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is just great.
    Anyway, I feel very lucky and grateful myself these days ( having just turned 40) and I chalk it up to wisdom writing, which includes philosophy but also great novels and poems and films. Humans figure things out sometimes, and the best of them deeply enjoy sharing the words that help them enjoy our tour on this side of the grave. For what it's worth, you seem like a pretty aware guy at 17. I'd bet on you getting through this. My theory is that anyone who reads and writes passionately is deeply social at heart. Language is a big system of shared universal thought. It's just hard to be an "object for others." I think Sartre really nailed what was creepy in being a picture show for strangers. Maybe you're a bit hyper-aware, hyper-passionate. It could pay off in the long run.
  • Baden
    8.5k
    Some people will inevitably fare better than other socially and your issues don't sound intractable to me. Sometimes social skills, like many other skills, are simply a matter of practice, of putting yourself in that situation too regularly to allow yourself so much time to dwell on how you did. You'd be surprised at what you (or your unconscious self) can figure out when you give it the time and space to do so. So, I don't think you can think your way out of this, you need to act your way out of it, and find a way to switch the thinking off. I say this from personal experience as I was fairly insular in my twenties and getting a job that forced me to put myself out there in front of people on a daily basis helped significantly. Thinking itself never did.
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