I am self-conscious, self-aware, and self-absorbed. In all the worst ways.
Every female I know seems to fit every social anxiety description “to a T”. What I find a bit funny about that, is that every one of them that I know fairly well seems to lack at least half of the things described.
You are not more than self-conscious if you tell me to stop obsessing over what I can and cannot wear, because “confidence will keep people from worrying about how you look”. If that’s how you feel, then you are not suffering.
Relationships and social interactions are not difficult for you if you insist on seeing each of your friends multiple times a week.
You don’t prefer being alone if you can’t even take a break from work without being on the phone with someone the entire time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure everyone suffers from some sort of anxiety at some point in their lives. But you don’t truly know the struggles unless you have experienced the severity of it first hand.
I am so self-conscious that I even question whether I really have anxiety or if I’m just like the people that claim they do for pity or an excuse.
But it’s not merely social anxiety. It feels like I have the worst of it all. I struggle daily from my social fears and body image problems. If you asked a doctor, they’d probably tell you I have Social Anxiety, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Depression, slight OCD, and I’ve struggled with eating disorders since I was 14.
Some days are worse than others. So much worse.
Being alone is almost a death sentence, but also so much easier to deal with than being with others. When I’m alone, I’m left with my thoughts. I pick at every part of me and try to dissect every social interaction I’ve ever experienced. Just a look that I can’t quite figure out the meaning of will send me into a panic. I need constant reassurance that I’m acceptable.
But being in public, whether it’s with close friends that I feel comfortable around or complete strangers, is anxiety inducing. I become hot and cold at the same time. I sweat profusely, while my arms and legs are covered in goosebumps. It isn’t always terrible, but the outcome depends on the event. Grocery shopping isn’t a problem, but a trip to the bar gives me sweaty palms.
I spend hours getting ready, trying to perfect every part of me. I never do, but I try. I make my hair look as best as I can, put on makeup that I rarely wear, and dig through my closet trying to find the most flattering outfit. Even in my most comfortable, baggy clothing, I still am constantly aware of my body and how it may look.
Even at 115 pounds, just 4 pounds away from being underweight and constantly told I look sickly, I couldn’t bare how fat and disgusting I felt.
The hardest part for me, that’s even more difficult to explain, is that I don’t know what I look like. I mean, I have a generalized idea. I know I have dark hair, black hole eyes, and more freckles than one would ever be able to count. But I can’t comprehend my body type or exactly how my face looks. I’ve seen so many different angles and versions of myself that I don’t know which is the most accurate. I ask people all the time if my photos even resemble me, or if I look much better in them than in person. I fear meeting people after they see photos of me, or even seeing someone I haven’t seen in a while. I worry they’ll be disappointed or surprised by how much less attractive I am in person.
I compare myself to everyone, which is pretty typical of a female, but it’s never-ending. I ask if I look like I’d fit in or resemble certain groups or individual people. I have judged every person I’ve ever looked at. It’s not malicious, for the most part. It’s me trying to find where I fit, and mostly trying to conceptualize how I look. It never works though, because nobody can be trusted. If someone says something complimentary to me, I assume they’re saying it to be nice or because they feel sorry for me.
I’m a mess. Just one big mess.
I act cocky at first to hide it, because nobody wants these insecurities, complaints, or constant questions in their life. But I’m not cocky at all, not even confident. And eventually, if you’re around me long enough, it all spills out.
I wouldn’t wish this upon anybody. This is a daily struggle for me. I’ve avoided getting my license, because I don’t trust myself enough to drive. At 22, I just began college classes, but only online courses, because being in school around strangers makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I don’t have a job, because I’m afraid to fail, and I’m not even sure I’d make it past the interview. I’m just too socially awkward. Photography has always been one of my passions, but I stopped doing it and refuse jobs, because I lack the confidence.
I just never feel as though I’m enough. For anything or anyone.
But I’m trying. Even though it’s only online, I’m going to college. I’m forcing myself to accept photography jobs. I’m making plans to meet new people or hangout with old friends. I’m hoping that forcing myself into these situations constantly will get me through it.
I may never be okay with how I look or act, but I’m trying.