Many people don’t realize that social anxiety is an actual mental health diagnosis. It goes far beyond simply feeling anxious in certain social situations, which everyone experiences from time to time. Social Anxiety Disorder is a chronic condition, diagnosed by a professional, in which the patient experiences irrational fear regarding social interactions, especially in instances where you might give offense or be negatively judged or where you might experience humiliation or embarrassment. It makes ZERO sense, because those of us with SAD may experience these feelings in totally benign circumstances. It is often confused with introversion, and though the two may often overlap, introversion is a temperament, not disorder. Therapy and meds can be very helpful in dealing with this condition.
I find that my social anxiety is triggered by groups of strangers.
Also, by phone calls. Texts are ok, because I can take time to process and respond when I am ready, but a phone call feels like a stranger turning up in my living room. Ack!
The fun part of social anxiety is that it can strike even when you are talking to people you know and like. It’s not them; it’s definitely me. I have awoken many a night from a sound sleep, suddenly full of anxiety over an innocuous thing someone said. And/or my awkward response.
I still actually like people, though. I may avoid contact sometimes, but only because I want to avoid the discomfort socialization can bring. Not because I want to live in a cave somewhere. I would be a part-time cave-dweller at most. And I’d need a blankie and electronic devices so I could peer out at the world. The point is, social anxiety disorder is common, it can be managed, though that is not always easy, and your mental health condition is NOT a reflection on you or your character.