Everyday social anxiety

Person sitting having their hair curled by a hairdresser, image of back of head

My social anxiety can heighten when I am least expecting it.

The other day, I had a haircut and I was surprised at how anxious it made me. Sure, it's not uncommon to be stressed about having your hair cut exactly how you pictured it, but that wasn't even it. I felt anxious having to make small talk with a stranger, and fixated on making sure my face didn't appear too unfriendly in the mirror. Some people may scoff: you felt anxious talking to a hairdresser? But social anxiety really can crop up for me anywhere, and I am sure that I'm not alone.

As someone who used to suffer badly from social anxiety in high school, I have made loads of progress to the point where most of my friends are surprised that I ever experienced it. That doesn't mean I don't randomly feel it at times. I can be entering a new shop and suddenly stress about talking to the staff, or I will be in class and start dwelling on how to make conversation with a peer.

I think at moments like this, it is important to remind yourself how well you are doing. Even if you've worked hard to get rid of your social anxiety, like I certainly have, there may still be times when meeting new people or having conversations is going to stress you out. But think about all of the times where it has gone well! There are also ways that you can improve, which for me included taking myself out of my comfort zone (shocking, I know!) when I first started university by working up the courage to talk more. Working in any retail environment similarly reduces the problem, fast.

However, it's equally important to seek help if your social anxiety is debilitating, because sometimes you can't face it alone. So for me, I'm going to celebrate how far I've come, and all the amazing relationships that I have fostered from reducing my social anxiety significantly. That being said, I'm still nervous to see the hairdresser anytime soon, but that's a future problem...


Tagged in What messes with your head, anxiety, mental health awareness