She started at the age of six in primary school. Elizabeth and Mary excluded me from activities and friendship groups. I wasn’t good enough.
To make matters worse, the boys repeatedly said, “Go home.” But where do they want me to go? I was born in Coventry, but I was clearly not good enough to belong to it either. Then the label began at the school’s parents’ evening: “It’s really bright, but quiet.” “She needs to speak in class.” How do you speak up when your heart is incredibly fast, your mind is empty, and your mouth is dry because you’re afraid of humiliation and you know people wish you weren’t there?
Then there was the Asian community, which I adore, but also comes with tremendous pressure. Everyone is an uncle and expects you to talk to everyone with enthusiasm. Sometimes uncles and aunts pinch my cheeks with emotion and make comments about my size which vary from very skinny to full. The judgment and scrutiny was terrible. I was freezing not knowing what to say or how to respond, so I would hide behind the sofa any time people visit our house to avoid them.
My confidence started to wane when I started to think there was something wrong with me. I made myself invisible by hiding from social situations. Not that I didn’t want to socialize or connect with people – quite the contrary, I’m a social person and love to make friends – but it was safe to dodge the spotlight and avoid interaction. Unfortunately, I’ve stopped activities that I loved so much like making people laugh, going to events or parties, and playing sports. And my fear of social situations worsened as the belief “I’m not enough” became more deeply rooted in myself.
Hiding from social situations to protect myself became normal. This is what people do when they are shamed, traumatized, or repeatedly told that they are not good enough – they hide and become quiet, which can lead to loneliness and socialization. worry disturbance.
Fortunately, after several years I was able to regain my confidence. I started attending meditation sessions with my parents, not out of anxiety (I didn’t know I had anxiety until I became a therapist), but out of curiosity. Unexpectedly, I soon learned that regulating my breathing during social interactions was a game-changer whenever I felt fatigued, or my stress response was triggered. It has helped me feel calm and be able to respond better during interactions.
Then at the age of fourteen, a major turning point occurred at my sister’s Indian wedding, which took place over several days with hundreds of guests. I had no choice but to talk to people – there was nowhere to hide. At first, I had some positive interactions with people I hadn’t seen for a long time. They saw my right, saying, “I missed your pleasure” or “You have read so many books and have fun things to say,” which began to reignite my spark and remind me of my worth.
Despite two negative comments like “I didn’t realize there was a third brother” – highlighting how invisible I was – I felt seen and heard. Over the course of the week, I had enough positive interactions that began to substantiate my social fear of not being good enough and regain some confidence. After the wedding, I felt more open to socializing and continued to build on that trust by interacting progressively more.
To keep up with the latest reviews and comments, sign up for our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by click here
In hindsight, I dealt with my social fears by accident. There haven’t been any books or information on social anxiety in 30 years. So far, it is the third largest Psychological health A global issue, but rarely talked about, and it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, background or occupation – including the most trusted people.
If you’ve been feeling anxious or have lost faith in social distancing since the pandemic, you’re not alone. The epidemic was a form of trauma to the fabric of society. For some, past traumas were re-released, and for others, anxiety increased or first appeared. Of course, there is a spectrum of how socially anxious you feel from shyness, social awkwardness to social anxiety disorder, but fighting any social fears in silence is difficult.
To get past social anxiety, you have to understand it and open up. Since social anxiety makes it difficult to trust people and overthink that you won’t be supported, talking to friends is even more important to dispel these thoughts to break the vicious cycle. Each of us needs to feel seen and heard, and we need to communicate in order to survive. Therefore, the more positive interactions you collect, the more evidence you have against fear-promoting beliefs to rewire your mind and live away from social fears.
The book “How to Understand and Deal with Social Anxiety” by Meta Mistry will be released on September 8