The Problem of Social Anxiety

A frequently discussed topic in today’s society is the issue of social anxiety. I have heard people talk about anxiety so often that it almost feels like an epidemic among my age group. Its something I struggle with myself. I am constantly experiencing a complete absorption of what other people think about me. I allow fear of doing the wrong thing or behaving the wrong way control the things I do. I won’t call the doctor to make an appointment because I am afraid of saying something wrong and being embarrassed. I am afraid of trying to make new friends because I worry about rejection. None of my experiences feel uncommon though. I feel like I hear other people repeat my worries constantly. In their own situations and in their own lives, but the fear and worry is universal. I believe that this worry stems from the individualistic nature of our society. It is so common to see people quote something that says “Put yourself first” and “Do whatever makes you happy”. These kinds of ideas change the value of self-love into an isolating self-concern. Social anxiety sounds like an issue that stems from others. If you’re too worried about what other people think of you then you should focus on making yourself happy. Do the things that you like to do regardless of the opinion of others, right? I think the solution is a bit more complex. When you are spending your time worrying about what other people think of you what you are really doing is spending a lot of time thinking about yourself. “What are they going to think of ME?” “Are they going to think I’M beautiful if I wear this?” “Will they think I’M stupid if I do this or that?”. Your concern lies within your own self image. It’s so hard to hear, but focusing on yourself will never make you happy. Humans aren’t perfect. We can’t reach perfection because true perfection can only be found in Christ. Life isn’t about being perfect in your own eyes or about being perfect in the eyes of other people. Our goal is to have no concern with ourselves at all. Jesus had no concern for his own being. His intention in every action was to love and serve others. He didn’t care about what other people thought of him because he wasn’t thinking about himself at all. If we live out this truth than social anxiety goes away. If we take a step back and stop worrying about ourselves and start loving the people around us, then we are living like Christ. To love others is to truly understand love.

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