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.
I 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