Many people mistake my social anxiety for simple shyness. I can see this because i mean, i am shy, but there is a difference between the two. However, I know that many shy people along with those that have social anxiety can both relate to the exclamation “You’re so quiet!” or “Oh my god they actually talk!”.
You may think that it’s a minor thing to say. Like meh, what’s the big deal? And it’s really not one, but it happens over and over again and you start noticing. Those phrases start to build up, become tiresome, and you begin to feel defensive every time they are spoken.As Rankine states in Citizen, “…memory goes far back though remembering was never recommended”(pg 61).
Now, while that is one of the many similarities, being shy is usually not viewed as a negative trait by the person who has it. Shyness is a part of them, usually they don’t mind it. Personally I don’t mind the shy aspect of me, but my social anxiety is something that I do mind. My shyness doesn’t actively prevent me from doing things. My social anxiety does. I will go out of my way to avoid doing social things, even if I might actually find it enjoyable. I don’t talk to new people because I know it will take me forever to be comfortable with them. I know that people don’t mean to confuse the two, and that its part of the reason they don’t understand why I don’t just “get over it”. But maybe this will help others begin to understand, even if it’s just a little.