Getting up in front of a crowded room and giving a presentation, embarrassing yourself (for fun or not) in public, or going on a first date with someone new can have the potential to make just about anyone a little bit nervous, but for some people who struggle with high-functioning social anxiety, even seemingly lower-stakes social situations or interactions can cause some concern. For those who are high-functioning, this doesn't necessarily mean that they'd skip out on social events entirely, which is partially why it can be hard to suss out. The signs you have high-functioning social anxiety aren't as obvious or extreme as those that go along with a straightforward diagnosis, but can difficult for people to handle all the same.
For people with high-functioning anxiety disorders, explaining what they're dealing with to those who don't understand that same experience can be hard. They don't have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, necessarily, and typically appear unaffected by anxiety to outside observers. Basically, people don't suspect that they're dealing with social anxiety, even though they are. Knowing that what you're dealing with is something more than what others might be, however, can give you a bit of peace of mind. It doesn't make the symptoms easier, but gives you a sort of explanation for why things are the way that they are, and maybe spurs you talk to someone about how to handle it.
1. You Fret Over Responses To Text Messages
In a piece that he wrote for The Mighty, contributor Ahmad Abojaradeh wrote that, for him, part of high-functioning social anxiety is receiving texts and social media posts, trying to find a way to respond, and then abandoning the hope for a response later on when he's not sure what to say. Worrying how someone will react what you say can be stressful and exhausting, and those messages you do get back from someone with social anxiety might have been meticulously thought out.
2. You Blush Profusely When The Attention's On You
When everyone turns to look at you and you blush a deep crimson color from your chest up, you can feel it. You know you're blushing, you just can't help it. Bridges to Recovery's website noted that blushing is one of the physical signs of high-functioning social anxiety. The attention's on you and it's seriously nerve-wracking.
3. You're Scared To Embarrass Yourself
Sometimes people embarrass themselves (or, at least, are happily willing to risk it) in order to do something fun, but for people who are dealing with high-functioning social anxiety, the fear associated with embarrassing themselves is real, as the previously-mentioned post from Bridges to Recovery noted.
4. You Get Nervous When You Have To Introduce Yourself To New People
Meeting new people can be fun and exciting, it can be a chore, or it can be one of the most stressful things you'll do all day. Health reported that a hallmark of high-functioning anxiety is nerves and worry that doesn't interfere with your ability to still live your life. For people with high-functioning social anxiety, they might still be able to be social and meet brand-new people, but that doesn't mean that it's not difficult to do so.
5. You Get Stressed Before A Big Social Engagement
As the previously-mentioned article from Health noted, worry, nerves, sleeplessness, and more can all come into play when you're dealing with high-functioning anxiety. Experiencing stress related to a big event that you know will be difficult for you isn't at all unusual for someone dealing with high-functioning social anxiety. Again, it doesn't necessarily mean that you don't go to the event, but it is more difficult for you to do so than it might be for some of the others in attendance.
6. You Struggle To Find The Words When You're In A Group
Because a part of social anxiety has to do with a certain amount of fear about how other people will see and respond to you, embarrassing yourself in front of people can, of course, be a real concern. That means that you might be even more cognizant of the potential impact of what you're saying than you would be otherwise. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America noted that struggling to find words can be a sign of social anxiety because you're worried that people will know that you're anxious or see that you're awkward or uncomfortable. It's really difficult when you know what you want to say, but can't figure out how to do so, especially when it seems like many others don't have that same concern.
7. You Worry About & Dissect Past Social Interactions & Think About Doing Things Differently
Self reported that worrying about past social interactions and thinking about all of the things you could have (or should have) done differently is another sign of social anxiety. If you can't seem to stop stressing over that thing you said to a coworker's partner last year at the company holiday party or that thing you said to the barista at your favorite coffee shop a month and a half ago, it could be you telling yourself that there's something else going on.
If you struggle with true social anxiety or a high-functioning version, talking to a qualified therapist might help you get to feeling better faster. You don't have to go it all alone, even if you didn't realize that you were struggling more than other people before.
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