"All you need is some confidence," said the people who are not aware of the gravity of social anxiety. Some do not even know that it is actually a thing. Few of the inquiries I get when I am trembling before a class presentation or recitation are, "Why are your hands so cold?" and "Why can't you just relax?"
But let me make it clear to you: there is a reason "social anxiety" is anxiety, not a mere byproduct of nervousness.
Anxiety is a different, more intense thing. It is an overwhelming feeling that starts in the pit of my stomach and spreads through my core and on to my entire body. It leaves me heaving, shaking, and gasping for breath. My actions and emotions before a five-minute class report on crisis management could be likened to those of an average person before he goes bungee jumping off the Eiffel Tower.
My anxiety doesn't only happen during class presentations, let me tell you. Approaching a salesperson, greeting an acquaintance, and picking up the phone require as much effort as defending myrself against a crime I committed but would not want to confess before the eyes of the police. Even the mere thought of initiating interaction already sends chills down my spine.
I cannot make friends, either. My whole life outside college revolves around the Internet. I do want to belong, but I only end up interacting with people whose words I can only see through my computer screen. Nevertheless, it has its perks: I can leave whenever I want to, and I will not be criticized for my clumsiness or looks because I am invisible.
I have been advised a few times regarding my issues. Some have said that "it only takes confidence"—an arrogant piece of advice given by arrogant people. Some have also said, "Just be positive." The latter, I appreciate. But still, they are clueless.
If thinking positive were that easy, what would stop me from doing it? If thinking positive was something I could do on my own, I would have done it before someone even told me to.
I do not ask much aside from a little understanding. No, I do not demand all three of my friends to check up on me every day; just consideration and open-mindedness. Friends, there is a gray area to everything. Let us break the stigma.