Social Anxiety among LBQT+
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
“Social Anxiety Disorder is the persistent, sometimes overwhelming anxiety or chronic fear of being in everyday social situations. People who suffer from the disorder feel that they are constantly being watched and judged by those around them. In a social setting, they worry continuously that they will do something to embarrass themselves. While these people are aware they might be making more out of a situation than it really calls for, they can’t help stressing about it anyway.”
I’ve suffered silently from social anxiety, coupled with my introversion it made me dread meeting new people, those who know me well would be surprised to hear that, since I am a master of hiding my feelings. My palm would sweat and my brain would spiral into the unknown. The prospect of social interaction with my mates made me sick with worry. Meeting new people activated my fear triggers. The first day that I had a chance to meet LBQ Women in the region through 3w’s parents support forum, when I arrived and my mind went blank, my words failed me, I stuttered and stammered like an idiot, such a social incompetence, don’t you think?
My social anxiety was characterized by extreme fear of humiliation and rejection. I was horrified of other people laughing at me. I expected people to disapprove of my unnatural, awkward behavior and the way I looked, talked, or ate. The truth is, when you have social anxiety, you have such low self-esteem and an intense feeling of inferiority that you think pretty much everyone is superior to you.
And I soon discovered that this fear stemmed from my high school time. For some reason, I never fit in.
The Root Cause of My Social Anxiety
All my life I had considered myself flawed beyond repair and redemption. I believed I had no worth, no value to anybody. In my eyes, I was the only unworthy creature in a world of superiors.
I was convinced that I could gain some sense of worth through winning the approval, respect, and appreciation of others. And that every humiliation, rejection, and mistake would leave me worthless once again. That’s why social interactions caused so much fear.
Because I thought that every person I met could see my worthlessness as clearly as I did. As if I had a massive “LOSER” tattoo on my forehead. And I expected them to reject me for it like others had done in the past. I assumed that they would make fun of me, dislike me, turn their backs, and walk away.
I viewed myself through a black veil of unworthiness and transposed my self-judgment and self-prejudice onto others. Social anxiety was only a symptom. My real issue was lack of self-worth.
How have I maneuvered through that and healed myself form social anxiety? Maybe there’s someone reading this and it is quite relatable to them. I started to listen to my mind from a distance. I observed the toxic self-talk, negativity, and self-condemnation it reiterated on autopilot. And whenever I noticed that my ruminating thoughts started to judge me, I replaced self-judgment with self-acceptance by affirming “I love and approve of myself.”
I was worth. Personified.
“Your thoughts have to understand one thing: that you are not interested in them. The moment you have made this point you have attained a tremendous victory.” ~Osho