That’s a question I’ve been trying to find an answer to recently.
Because if you knew me in real life, you wouldn’t really know me.
That’s a weird thing to say, but it is true in a way.
I was clearing out my apartment the other day, and found a piece of paper from an early year at school. Everyone had their own piece of paper, wrote their name in the middle, then it was send around the class and everyone would write something (nice) about that person. And mine did say a few nice things, like I was sweet and a good friend. But all the boys had written some version of either “You’re good at football” or “You’re quiet”.
A quiet type that stays quiet during class
– Apparently the nicest thing a classmate through ~3 years had to say about me.
When people meet me offline, most would still label me as a shy and private person (or they think I’m so rude and arrogant because I’m acting like I don’t wanna talk to them when I’m really just nervous. Or maybe it’s just my brain telling me that’s what they’re thinking. I don’t know. Anxiety can be confusing.)
So yeah, I’m dealing with social anxiety. And I’m shy.
(I never see people use that word to describe themselves, it’s like “I’m an introvert, but I’m not shy“ – LIKE WHATS SO BAD ABOUT BEING SHY???)
Anyway, there seems to be a disconnect between the shy person I am in real life, and the way I openly share something as private as mental health struggles on this platform.
To me, the two things are very different. When you’re talking to people in real life, it’s so hard to know if they’re genuinely interested in talking to you, or if they just feel obligated to small talk because you happen to be there. My anxiety tells me that people don’t want to talk to me when I can’t clearly see how I’m providing value to them.
Hey Anne, can you help me with the math homework for Wednesday?
Yes, that’s totally cool, I have no trouble talking about that with you.
Hey Anne, we’re going to the Irish pub, wanna join us?
Why are you asking me? Do you just feel obligated to ask me because it’s the nice thing to do and in reality you don’t want me to come?? You think I’m just going to ruin the fun, don’t you? You’d much rather go without me, wouldn’t you?
And the stupid thoughts just go on and on and on.
Online however, the people who don’t want to interact with me won’t even click on to my site. They’ve already shown interest.
And of course, I don’t see their faces staring at me, making me all self-conscious. I have time to think, rewrite and breathe. There’s no stress, less pressure on me to respond immediately. It’s not nearly as intimidating.
It’s true that trolls and anonymous hate exists online, and I do worry about that. But I’ve never really been subjected to that. And people who does something like that are so obviously losers, being rejected by them carries no weight.
With people offline, however, it’s not as easy to be indifferent to their opinion. Like, in my class at uni there’s some really awesome people that I’d like to be friends with, I want to be part of the group. I wish I wasn’t so controlled by what other people think of me, but I’d be lying if I said it’s not something I worry about.
I wonder if this sounds simply ridiculous to someone who hasn’t experienced it. But this is the best way I can explain how I can seem so shy, but at the same time happily share parts of myself online.
Can you relate to this? How do you feel about sharing your life on and offline?