My roommate Lauryn and our friend Aaron were watching “The Incredibles” at my place the other night, and I walked in on the scene where Edna is showing Mrs. Incredible her super suit. Her super power is that any part of her body can stretch out as far as she wants, so in presenting the suit, the machine demonstrates how it can stretch with her. I watched this scene quietly and as corny as it sounds, all I thought in that moment was ‘Dude.. that’s how I feel right now- stretched REALLY thin’. That describes how I’ve felt for a good portion of this Fall semester, which is already the second-to-last one as an undergraduate. Sometimes it’s like people would be trying to talk to a portion of my left arm and not really notice I wasn’t fully present. Hellooo, I’m all the way over here.
Well, I’m not here to list all of my extracurricular activities, or show off my busy google calendar- honestly, those things are what I would talk about in passing but they’re just noise and frivolous details compared to what’s going on internally.
Yep I said it- social anxiety. I am not using this word lightly, nor do I want to undermine the experiences of anyone who has/had the disorder. Rather, I would like to ask you to read this in the lens of me being vulnerable in sharing my own personal story with the intent to make space for more honest conversations about mental illness and the stigmas surrounding it.
In our day and people-pleasing culture, we spend a tremendous amount of energy to try to”fit in”-to be sociable, interesting, likable, and relatable. Perhaps you are extra blessed and could care less about what people think of you (not trying to act “idgaf”, but actually dgaf), excel naturally at socializing, feel confident wherever you go with whoever you meet, and find complete peace and happiness in who you are. Shoot, the old me would have loved to be you instead (okay…maybe even now). Regardless of if you’re another victim to people-pleasing like me or if this is not a general concern for you, it is innately engraved in our human heart and mind to harbor the desire to be accepted by others (“fit in”) and have a place to feel belonging. Somehow, these two desires got skewed and synonymous to one another, when in fact they are quite the opposite.
At this moment, I can call myself a very “social” person and most people would agree with me. I am naturally very relational, strongly value close relationships I can deeply connect with, and have decent interpersonal skills.
Okay, get to the point-So why is someone like you, then, talking about this particular subject matter?