If you've ever had the feeling of walking into a crowded room and your chest tightens, your breaths either seize or quicken, and your immediate thought is to run as fast and as far as you can, welcome to my world. I have tons of reasons I was afraid to talk about my social anxiety and, for the longest time, wrote it off as abnormal. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I wasn't able to do things others seemed to do with such ease, like entering a restaurant with a wait line or shopping for groceries at a peak hour. While these might be nothing to someone, they are everything to me.
When I was younger, I had two sides of me. There was the social butterfly that loved to dance and sing, performing for others when I was brave enough to bury my insecurities. Then there was the introvert who'd much rather sit alone in our front yard's tree for hours than spend that night with a friend. There was no in between, really, and a lot of times my quietness was mistaken for being shy and my performance abilities mistaken as me simply being outgoing. Neither was an accurate representation of the real, true, authentic me. Social anxiety is complicated (especially as a mother), and often masks the greatest of intentions with overwhelming fear. Just because I want to go to a holiday party doesn't mean all the suffocating feelings disappear once I'm there.
It took me more than a few years to navigate my anxiety and, even now when I feel like I have it wrangled, it sneaks up on me at literally the worst times. If you're afraid to talk about your social anxiety, maybe you can relate to all the reasons why I was, too. Trust me though, talking about it makes it way less awkward.