Social Anxiety, Blogging, And Me

I don't always feel the way that I do right now, thankfully.

A lot of the time I'm bouncing about, laughing, joking, seeing the positive side of life with a full heart and immense pride for the life I've built up.

But then there are times like now, times that seemingly come out of the blue (though I don't doubt there are triggers). Times when I feel like I'm constantly fighting back tears despite not showing it outwardly, times when there feels like an elephant sitting on my chest, pushing against it and making it feel difficult to breathe as normal. Times when my head feels heavy and jumbled and full of thoughts I feel like I'm not putting there.

Social anxiety makes you feel different to other people. It makes me feel odd. I can mostly, (when I'm not going through a particularly hard phase of anxiety) embrace the 'I feel different to other people' feeling. I can at times celebrate what makes me different and take pride in it. But I'd be a liar if I said that those feelings didn't also sometimes turn dark, leaving me with a head full of self-doubt, low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence and self-worth.

The worst thing is is that as much as I want to 'pull myself together', as much as I want to let go and let my hair down, throw caution to the wind and be the sort of person that can walk in to a room full of people and feel excitement rather than pure fear, I know that in reality I will always live with this anxiety in some form or another.

I guess you could say that I'm a bit like a snail - I can come out for a bit, but I'm most comfortable tucked up inside of my shell. I need that alone time, that recharge time. I need time to process and collect myself and my thoughts.

Put me in a room with just one other and anxiety becomes a distant memory. I come into myself, I am confident, content, happy. I can chat for hours. But if we were joined by just one more, suddenly the cloud of worry, unconfidence, self-doubt, exhaustion, it all rears it's ugly head back up.

I'm struggling to write this, firstly to explain it - making sense of a feeling that confuses me and explaining it in words that really gives justice to how it truly makes me feel, feels almost impossible. And secondly, because of the fear of others judgement. The fear of those that read this that are fortunate enough to have no idea what I'm talking about or understand why I can't just 'snap out of it.'

They'll be people who think it's somewhat ironic that somebody who shares so much of her life online for the world to read, struggles with social anxiety. And to that, I'd somewhat agree with them. You see, when I started this it was very much a way for an introvert like me and somebody that struggled with social anxiety to have my own 'outlet'. It was a quiet, personal thing in the beginning. A way for me to focus on the positive in my life, things like my first pregnancy and my marriage to the person I'd just celebrated spending 10 years of my life with.

I hid my blog from people I knew in 'real life', I cringed when my Husband read my posts (and sometimes still do, I'm currently writing this post upstairs whilst he's downstairs, despite the fact that he gets me more than anyone else does). But it felt good when I started to find that people who I soon came to realise felt similar to me in a social aspect started to comment on my posts.

A few years down the line and my blogging gave me the wonderful opportunity to work from home, something that suited my social anxiety perfectly and something that gave me one of the most incredible things I could ever have wished for - being able to be at home to raise my babies. I am forever grateful to myself for starting that 'nerdy' hobby of mine when I did and I'm forever grateful for the brands who choose to collaborate with me, who see us and what we're about and believe in us enough to represent what they are about.

Of course, blogging's a little bit different now to how it was back when I started - it's become almost trendy and meeting up with and networking with others has become a big part of this world, but for somebody like me, even hearing the word 'networking' is enough to bring anxiety knocking.

But whilst I'll never be amazing at the networking side of this, blogging to me is still about the reasons I started it..  It's a diary of memories - of captured moments with the people I love most in the world. It's a journey of self-discovery. It's an outlet to help me make sense of my often jumbled thoughts. It's a way for a socially anxious person like me to connect - to find others who read my thoughts and say 'yes I get you'.

I can't always write, I can't always open up like this. Often I'll write posts like this and I'll end up deleting them through fear of what others will make of them. And the truth is is that as much as I enjoy YouTube, particularly for the fact that it pushes me out of my comfort zone so much, my anxiety means that I struggle to speak clearly on camera which means that I pretty much end up having to repeat each sentence I say over and over again until it (eventually) comes out correctly to make some sort of sense (oh for the power of editing!).

Admitting to all of this and writing it all down for the world to read isn't easy. But the alternative of hiding it away and pretending to have a confidence that I don't isn't an option I want to take. I believe in talking about and addressing mental health as a way to tackle it head on and getting it out like this, is for me, the beginning of feeling better. It's a way for me to take all of those anxious, jumbled up thoughts and put them into some sort of order to begin to make sense of them. Publishing this post for all to read is a way for me to own my thoughts and to say. 'Hi anxiety, I see you. I know that you're there and I am accepting of you, but you don't and you won't ever define me'.

Alex xo

1 comment

  1. Alex, I want you to know how much I appreciated this post! As someone who unknowingly suffered for anxiety my whole life, reading this was so self-assuring and comforting. Reading your thoughts was like reading my life put to words, and it gave me so much validation! Talking about our real struggles can be difficult, but I want you know it's helping people--it's helping me! Please don't stop doing what you do. You're an absolute inspiration, at the very least for being real, for being honest, for being who you are and not letting fear keeping you from sharing it.