I have social anxiety. In all honesty I also have general anxiety and panic attacks which actually affect me more when it comes to social media. But, what kind of title is General Anxiety Vs Social Media. Not quite as epic that’s for sure. Back to the point. I have suffered from anxiety ever since I was young. My earliest memory of an anxiety attack was when I was about 13 or 14. Me and my family were at the cottage for Thanksgiving. My aunt had made up the most classic fall table setting. A dark red table runner, pumpkins with flowers in them, leaves me and my sister had collected, and candles. Freaking candles. So let me run you through a little then and now.
Then, I couldn’t eat, my stomach was on it’s own personal roller coaster, my hands were sweating and I was doing everything I could not to cry in front of my family. I was 100% sure that the flame from the candles would set the leaves on fire, the whole cottage was going to burn and we were all going to die. Did it? Nope (although a couple years later my cousin did accidentally light the table runner on fire). Was I being a little drastic? Oh yeah. But that’s what anxiety will do, it makes no sense and is so frustrating.
Now, I see candles, aaaaaanddd yup it’s fine, I actually like them now. There are times when I have to remind myself that they are just little candles, flame doesn’t exactly jump around and set fires especially inside with no wind. This is after 3 years of seeing a therapist and a whole lot of self evaluation to determine my triggers and actively pushing myself to overcome my anxiety. Candles are just one of many things/situations that force me to remind myself that I have nothing to be worried about until I start to listen, hear, and believe it.
One area I still really struggle with is social media. I don’t really ever post on Facebook or Twitter, the only platform I am semi comfortable with is Instagram. So here are a couple of my personal pros and cons of social media vs social anxiety:
One more platform for embarrassment.
I’m already nervous every time I walk out of the bathroom.. Is there toilet paper stuck to my shoe? Is my fly done up? Has checking and double checking these things caused people to wonder why the heck I’ve been in here so long? If I thought anyone would be interested in reading my list of 100 daily things that cause me anxiety in fear of embarrassment, I would list them. But ain’t nobody got time for that. Social media has added about 50 more things to my list of potential causes for embarrassment. From unfortunate pictures to spelling mistakes in posts social media has created yet another way for me to “embarrass” myself in public and cause me anxiety.
It can feel lonely.
Weird right? That a social platform can make someone feel lonely when it should be doing the exact opposite! I see all the things my friends and family post on Fb, YouTube, etc and so much of me wishes I could do the same. It sucks because it really highlights just how frustrating anxiety can be. Wanting to do things other people can but having this mental illness hold you back feels incredibly lonely and social media is just one more way to feel left out.
You don’t have to be social!
It can be hard having to talk to people in person sometimes. Social media has created so many different way to communicate without actually having to see anyone or have a real time conversation! Fb messenger, Twitter & insta DM’s, the possibilities are endless! Don’t feel up to a phone call because you’re too anxious? Not to worry! In lot’s of cases it’s become socially acceptable to just send a message over Facebook and I for one am super thankful!
It’s a great distraction!
Whenever I want to avoid an awkward situation or social interaction I will pull out my phone and look busy when I’m just checking social media. Boom! Situation avoided. Social media is also a great way to numb your brain for a bit during an anxiety attack. I’ve gotten so lost in YouTube videos I couldn’t even remember what I was anxious about.
When I signed up for this program and saw that the first course required me to post a weekly blog that was not private there was a moment where I was like “well, that was fun while it lasted” and seriously considered dropping out. The idea of having so much of myself out on display for people to judge is something I lose sleep over. I spent days stressing out over what to write, how to write, the tone I wanted to set, length, whether to use slang or not, so many ridiculous little details that mattered to me out of fear of being judged.
Once I had “The Perfect Insta” written I read, and re-read it 10 times before I showed my best friend, and even then I was nervous about her reading it. I kept it in my google docs for 3 days, showed 3 more people, re read it 10 more times before finally drafting it on WordPress where it sat for an hour before I got the nerve to hit post. As soon as I did I felt like being sick but I calmed myself down. I didn’t pretend to be something I’m not, this is me, this is what you get, if people don’t like it that’s okay, I don’t have to please everyone. This is something I have to keep telling myself because I haven’t quite listened, heard it, or believed it yet. One day I will and posting on social media will come naturally to me. Until that day I have to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone (easier said than done) but it is a goal of mine!
It’s hard to put yourself out there, whether you have anxiety or not, being present on social media with all the trolls and negativity is impressive for anyone. This blog is about to put a whole lot of me out there for anyone to see and judge but I’m still going to hit post. And I’m going to be hella proud of myself, I think I’ll even go buy a yankee candle to celebrate.