Imagine you’re standing in line for huge event. If you’re a sports fan, you’re waiting in line for the Super Bowl. If you’re a music fan, you’re waiting in line for your favorite band. Whatever you’re waiting for, the crowd is enthused and the line is almost literally shoulder to shoulder. You can’t wait to see some famous guy throw a ball or hit some drums. But you look down and notice that your shoes are untied…
Everyone gets a little nervous from time to time. You might get butterflies in your stomach before a job interview, or maybe you get a little anxious before giving a presentation. It’s not unusual to feel nervous in stressful situations, but for those with social anxiety, even the most ordinary social interactions can be too stressful to bear.
The Social Anxiety Institute (SAI) defines social anxiety as, “the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance”.
A person with social anxiety may feel uncomfortable in normal everyday social situations. Meeting people, greeting neighbors, or even purchasing something from a store can be dreadful prospects for people with social anxiety.
So, let’s step back in line. A person with social anxiety might not want to simply bend over and tie his shoe in such close proximity to the other people in line for fear of being mocked. He also does not want to ask the others in line to move for fear of being judged. Instead he decides to leave his shoes untied, or maybe to exit the line so he can tie his shoes, and takes a place at the end of the line.
Social anxiety can make it hard for people to go about their daily lives. They might find it easier to stay home than to venture out in public where they might encounter a social interaction.
The Social Anxiety Institute places social anxiety as the third most common mental health problem. There are varying degrees of social anxiety, some that can make interactions uncomfortable, and others that can keep you from tying your shoes in public. If you live in the Northwest Arkansas area and suffer from social anxiety, do not hesitate to give us a call.