Social Anxiety or Self Defense Mechanism?

My Anxiety Is Not Disordered by Cynthia Kim 

The article above provides some thought provoking insights regarding social anxiety and those on the Autistic Spectrum . . .

I found I could relate well to her assessment of certain individuals with social difficulties. If you know me, you obviously know I have social peculiarities. I don’t often care to be around people, I prefer talking via typing rather than gabbing on the phone. I don’t mind going for coffee with a friend, but I don’t particularly care to go to their barbecues, the nights out on the town, the movies, or the mall with them. I don’t know if I necessarily have social anxiety or if I am simply teetering on the edge of some misanthropic cliff, deciding whether or not to jump.

imageI find spending time with others to be draining, emotionally taxing, and generally uncomfortable. Even with people I love dearly, I need breaks. Decompression. I often feel I should say to them, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

The difficulty comes in explaining why. I just do. I am not afraid of people, well, most of them. I simply do not care for the vast majority of them. I don’t understand them. I love to watch them, study them, dissect them in my mind. I liken my people watching to the desire to take apart a clock to see how it ticks.

Social pretenses are somewhat lost on me, expected norms of interaction don’t come naturally whether it is within a group dynamic or one-on-one, I often feel a certain discomfort. I like being alone, I relish my solitude, but I also enjoy the company of loved ones, I just can’t seem to enjoy it for extended periods of time.

I am not anti-social, selectively and cautiously social is a better descriptor. There was a time I suffered through it all, when my fight or flight triggers were tripped I ignored both options and forced myself to muddle through, seeking and finding release and relief was not something I allowed myself.

Now though, I say no when I know it will all be too much. I steal away and take a few minutes to regain my center when I find myself in a situation involving others, only returning when I know I am able. I feel a certain level of comfort simply knowing I can do so, sometimes just knowing I can is enough to keep my composure.

As this blog article says, it is a self-defense mechanism for some of us. It’s a way of maintaining balance to a fragile portion of who I am. I know what anxiety is, I have social obstacles certainly, they can lead to anxiety if I do not address them, but I think the anxiety is a consequence of the social quandaries I face, not a cause . . .

Crystal R. Cook

3 thoughts on “Social Anxiety or Self Defense Mechanism?

  1. oh my goodness, you just perfectly described me and what goes on in my head. Get outta there! It’s a scary place. It’s taken YEARS for my family to understand me and why I do what I do or don’t do what I don’t do. They know not to take it personally if I disappear or not to bug me if I withdraw into myself for a little bit when escape is impossible.
    It’s so awesome to read someone else write what I battle everyday and that it’s ok to be like that.
    : )
    this is why I just love you to death!!!


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