If you’re suffering with social anxiety disorder, you may or may not have been called ‘ignorant’ at some point in your life, or at least you may feel like you come across that way. I have, myself, been called this on many occasions. I don’t blame people for their opinions as if I had never experienced social anxiety disorder myself then I may even interpret someone’s behaviour in that way.
Why do I appear Ignorant?
1) Small talk and manners:
Perhaps a friend or family member greets me and says, “Hello, how are you?” I’m not entirely sure why but this question provokes a tonne of anxiety, but it takes me all the effort in the world just to respond: “I’m good…you?” On days when my anxiety is too overwhelming I may just say, “Good, thanks,” and then smile. Or in the worst case, I say, “Good” and have forgotten to include the “thanks”, nevermind the “and you?” And then it’s way too late to say anything else without feeling like a complete knob so I quietly panic inside my head…and yeah, that’s anxiety for you.
Here’s another scenario. So, perhaps I’m over a friend’s house, or my boyfriend’s house, or whatever. And his mum cooks me some dinner, she’s left me food on the side so I can pick it up and take it out with me, her back is turned whilst she prepares the remaining food for the rest of the family. I pick up the plate of food and I know I need to say “thank-you“, otherwise I’m going to look rude. But my anxieties tell me: ‘oh god, what if I say it weird’, ‘what if she doesn’t hear me and then I look stupid and feel awkward’, ‘what if…what if…I make her feel awkward…’etc, etc. and before I know it, I’ve walked out of the kitchen with my bowl of food without saying a single word. UGH!
2) Acting myself only around certain people.
A conversation with my little brother, no problem. I can goof around and say whatever comes to mind without hesitation because there’s no judgement between us and for some reason, I don’t care what he thinks about me. I feel the same around my boyfriend because to him I am an open book; he knows all my flaws and loves me regardless, and continues to show a lack of judgement.
Then let’s say I have a conversation with an authoritative family member, someone I’ve known my entire life. I’m bound to be comfortable around them, right? Of course not. Because I know that if a family member holds an authoritative position over me then that person often holds the capability to judge or criticise me. Mostly for the right reasons of course, as they most-likely just want the best for me. But despite knowing it’s for my own good, having social anxiety disorder means I have an overwhelming fear and sensitivity to both judgement and criticism, which means I end up unintentionally trying to avoid conversations with that person. It’s not that I don’t want to talk that person, it’s more that I am afraid. But in the other person’s eyes, it may appear to steer more towards the latter, and this is when they may see me as ignorant.
3) Hiding my anxiety
Often, I will try and mask my social anxiety by acting laid-back, especially at times that are supposed to provoke anxiety for the average person e.g. the house just caught on fire. This is due to being so used to hiding my anxiety that I have become almost incapable of portraying my emotions, this isn’t to say that I don’t feel overwhelmed at the time, I just need to be in private before I can show them. On many occasions I’ve had comments such as, “I wish I were as laid-back as you, you don’t worry about anything.” HAHA! If only they knew… Due to my anxiety seeming so invisible, people often assume that I definitely DON’T have any form of anxiety and therefore, I must just be ignorant.
Thankyou for reading! (Easier said than done if you get me…). Subscribe for more :).
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