Most people are really surprised to learn I have social anxiety. I don't really fit their preconceived ideas about how a person with anxiety looks and acts. I am a total extrovert. I love to share my thoughts about issues, speak out, and advocate for others. I've been an actress and singer since childhood, often performing for large crowds. I have been known to share even the most private details of my life with the world through my writing. So, honestly, there are plenty of things moms with social anxiety won't tell you, but I will.
Things like how hard it is for me to make friends and how much I worry about my ability to fit in. I can testify in front of Congress without breaking a sweat, but there's no way I would ask another mom out for coffee. And when I do meet up with new friends, I constantly worry that I will do or say the wrong thing (and sometimes seriously put my foot in my mouth). To make matters worse, I seem to have an invisible tattoo that says, "Tell me your life story." Not a day passes that I don't hear intimate details of a stranger's life in the check out line. That is, if I leave the house.
My husband once asked me why I have so many friends on social media. Honestly, it gives me a chance to screen people before I let them into my circle and to think about what I say before I say it. Also, it helps that I can edit my statements when communicating online. My editor doesn't work very well in real time and especially not when I feel anxious and awkward. And don't even mention talking on the phone. It is seriously my nemesis. Not only do I have to think fast, but I can't see the look on people's faces when I say something super awkward like telling the school secretary, "I love you," before hanging up.
Here's just a few things I wish I could let people know about my social anxiety. (I'd be lying if I told you that writing this didn't make me freak out a little.)