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To wonder what every happened to just being shy?

(139 Posts)
drinkingchanelno5 Wed 21-Dec-16 17:37:08

I notice this everywhere now. Everyone has 'social anxiety' that seems to prevent them living a normal life. Being shy from time to time is normal and happens to everyone at some point! Seems to me that labelling yourself as 'anxious' rather than just shy is somehow reinforcing the issue, and gives you a reason to not try to overcome it because it gives it a medicalised label. They are called social 'skills' for a reason - they are skills that can be learned and need to be practised.

And yes I know some people have genuine anxiety issues, but people seem to reach for the social anxiety label automatically and it really grinds my gears! Or AIBU?

Katy07 Wed 21-Dec-16 17:40:57

YABU - plenty of us DO have anxiety issues. I had them for 40+ years BEFORE I had the diagnosis of Asperger's and thus the label. I've tried overcoming all sorts of issues - some I've achieved, others have got worse as I've got older. You know what really "grinds my gears" - ignorance like yours. angry

ghostyslovesheets Wed 21-Dec-16 17:42:13

yes YABU

I am shy but I am not crippled by it the way someone with anxiety is

PollyPerky Wed 21-Dec-16 17:43:47

Katy with respect, you have a condition - Aspergers- which is not the same thing as the OP is posting about. Your anxiety is most likely linked to that (and yes before you have a go, I'm trained to work with people like you.)

I don't know about 'social' anxiety but I do know a lot of people seem to want meds for 'anxiety' which often seems to me, to be 'just' nervousness about all kinds of everyday life and perfectly normal to be like that.

Doublegloucester Wed 21-Dec-16 17:44:35


TinselTwins Wed 21-Dec-16 17:45:03

I know several toddlers who have been self(parent) diagnosed as "selective mute"… for being by my mind normal toddlers and hiding behind their mothers skirt if someone unfamiliar puts them on the spot by talking to them.

But YABU regarding social anxiety, you seem to think it's a lazy way out, it's not, people with social anxiety try HARDER than everyone else to be normal and polite and likable… then just agonise about what they might have got wrong in the interaction/situation for hours/days afterwards

People with social anxiety don't appear "Shy", they can be overly chatty sometimes

hungryhippo90 Wed 21-Dec-16 17:45:56

Did you intend to come across as a goady fucker?
There is a whole world of difference between being shy, and anxiety.

yorkshapudding Wed 21-Dec-16 17:47:05

FFS. No wonder people are reluctant to ask for support with their emotional health.

I love how you put Social Anxiety in inverted commas..nice touch hmm

You seem confused so I'll try to explain as clearly as I can. Nothing has 'happened' to shyness. Shyness exists. But does Social Anxiety. The two are completely different things, not interchangeable terms. Shyness is a personality trait. Social Anxiety is a mental health issue.

YABU by the way.

Redglitter Wed 21-Dec-16 17:47:13

I'm not in the least shy but I suffer from crippling social anxiety. I don't want meds besides they don't help. I'd do anything to get rid of it. The impact it has on my life is absolutely awful

Saucery Wed 21-Dec-16 17:47:55

Socially anxious or shy, there are skills you can build on to overcome barriers. Never met anyone who just used the former as the excuse you are portraying it as.

gentlydoesit89 Wed 21-Dec-16 17:48:12

Maybe it's become more socially acceptable to acknowledge anxiety as the stigma relating to mental illness has began to lift over the last few years. People are more aware. Unfortunately it's this kind of ignorance which leaves people undiagnosed as they're scared.

I got told for years I was just shy and wasn't taken seriously. Years of panic attacks and being too scared to leave the house at times later, I've had the audacity to get a proper diagnosis and give how I feel a medicalised label.

Sorry if that 'grinds your gears'.

oldbirdy Wed 21-Dec-16 17:57:35

My son has "selective mutism" and severe "social anxiety" (inverted commas intentionally ironic). At the age of 15 he is not yet able to order in a cafe, get on a bus or train independently, or speak to many of his teachers. He started on anti anxiety meds at the age of 13 when he was unable to do ANY homework for fear of making a mistake, he would sit frozen and tearful. When visitors came to our house he would literally hide under his duvet throughout their visit. It was getting worse and worse. He tried CBT first but it wasn't effective.
I took him to the doctor who tried to use a scale to get him to say how much of a problem things were. He was too frozen to even point.

In the spirit of your post being simply ignorant rather than offensive, there is a huge difference between ordinary shyness and anxiety that cripples. Shy children respond over a relatively short period to being 'jollied along' or included. They warm up. They are appropriately reserved for their age (yes, toddlers are often shy. If your 10 year old hides behind your skirts it is no longer cute, appropriate or acceptable). Shy people find a way to give important messages. Selectively mute children have managed to disguise a broken arm, be put on the wrong bus and know it, without being able to talk.

Shy still exists. So does social anxiety. It's not trendy and it's not funny.

drinkingchanelno5 Wed 21-Dec-16 18:02:08

OK, IABU. Noted.

DotForShort Wed 21-Dec-16 18:04:04

Of course social anxiety exists. However, I do see where you are coming from. There is a current tendency to pathologise entirely unremarkable behaviour. I am concerned about this trend in the culture at large.

amigoingabitcrazy Wed 21-Dec-16 18:04:53

Shy is being a bit awkward a nervous meeting new people. Social anxiety is when I meet a friend and accidentally bump into someone I didn't expect to see. Sweat, shake and stutter uncontrollably and then think about the encounter and everything that I may have done to embarrass myself for 6+ months.

They are absolutely not the same.

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 21-Dec-16 18:08:01

I do think there is a conversation to be had. Not this conversation, but a conversation.

I work with youth. And I talk a little bit about drugs (as part of budgeting). In every group of about ten, there are normally two who are self-diagnosed with anxiety and self-medicating with weed. They don't see medical professionals and they don't try any other treatments. They often report not being able to sleep or eat without weed.

The conversation is, it's great that youth are now happy to talk about mental health concerns but there is an epidemic we aren't dealing with. Adults and the medical profession are failing and the message about marijuana's magical healing properties (which I think creates a dependent and unhappy generation) is getting through.

PurpleMinionMummy Wed 21-Dec-16 18:17:32

I haven't noticed people labelling being shy as social anxiety instead. It grinds my gears when people say dc is probably 'just shy', when he actually completely blanks people in some situations and is frozen to the spot. That's not normal shyness.

myyoyo Wed 21-Dec-16 18:18:29

'I'm trained to work with people like you'

Pollyperky you seem just as dim/goady as the op.

myyoyo Wed 21-Dec-16 18:19:01

...and clearly your training wasn't very effective

Marmalade85 Wed 21-Dec-16 18:20:19

I agree with you OP; everyone seems to have 'anxiety' now. I think it's quite American.

lyricaldancer Wed 21-Dec-16 18:20:24

biscuit What a goady OP.

Also shaking head at the poster who is 'trained to work with people like you'

LunaLoveg00d Wed 21-Dec-16 18:20:39

I know what the OP means. We all have times when we lack confidence in social situations. I think of myself as fairly confident but last night I had to attend a Christmas meal with a group of people i didn't know that well, and to make matters worse due to train delays, everyone was seated in the restaurant when I arrived. That wasn't a great situation but you grit your teeth and get on with it. And it was fine.

Social skills take practice. Making small talk is a skill and the more often you do it, the better you get at it. The Queen is the expert as she's been doing it all her life. But if you go into social settings with the mindset that it's going to be awful, you won't know what to say, everyone's horrible or in a clique then you're creating a self-fulfiling prophecy.

I am a strong believer in self-help. If you feel socially anxious then there are lots of things you can do about that. Lots of self-help courses and techniques you can try. People who are trying to overcome their difficulties are to be admired. People who sit at home and bitch about how horrid everyone is and how they can't/won't do certain things while making no effort at all to improve their social skills are what the OP is talking about.

lyricaldancer Wed 21-Dec-16 18:21:27

Cross posted! See I wasn't the only person to have noticed.

CigarsofthePharoahs Wed 21-Dec-16 18:21:46

Social anxiety is very real and very crippling. I can tell myself many times over that it's ok, nobody will make fun of me, I wont make myself look an idiot. But it's no good. I freeze up, my mind goes blank and then I do make myself look like an idiot. It's like walking into a very solid but invisible wall.
I'm currently taking sertraline for anxiety and depression. It's helping.
Shyness is what my toddler does when he meets someone new. Look a bit puzzled, hide behind me for a bit then slowly relax and start playing.
Alas my 6 year old is showing signs of anxiety more like mine. I am doing my best to be calm and reassuring with him as I know how it feels. My mum was exactly the opposite, making me "face my fear" only made it worse.
I haven't met anyone who has claimed social anxiety when they haven't really got it. Perhaps some people do. I hope not.

UnbornMortificado Wed 21-Dec-16 18:22:34

Proper anxiety is crippling.

In the past it's made me genuinely suicidal. I do see your point about everything being labelled though.

I'm more shocked at the people like you comment tbh hmm

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