When Did You Develop Social Anxiety?

I’ve seen and read a lot of interviews where people talk about when they first developed social anxiety. For some, it was high school. Others, once they reached puberty. Or when they left home for college. But me? I don’t get that. Social anxiety disorder isn’t something I developed. I’ve been debilitatingly shy for my entire life, or at least as long as I can remember.

For most of my life, my social anxiety never really worsened or progressed over time. I was always equally shy to strangers and acquaintances and teachers and peers, from pre-school through college. The only way my shyness varied was in individual relationships with close family and friends. Sometimes I’d feel comfortable and could talk to them, but other times, I’d drift apart from those people, family members included, and I’d be as shy to them as I was to complete strangers.

So for me, I never “developed” social anxiety. It was always there. I was always as shy as I always was. The only thing that changed was my frustration with my social anxiety. It grew until I couldn’t take it any longer, at which point, I took action to help myself. Now, I’m finally seeing improvement in my overall shyness, though I admittedly still have a long way to go. I may not have developed social anxiety, but I can undevelop it.

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