Does social anxiety get worse with age?

Why social anxiety?! Why?!

I remember when I was in my teens and early 20’s, I literally didn’t care less what people thought. I danced on the dance floor like an idiot, I would happily sit in a pub by myself waiting for a friend, I would not hold back with messages or anything I wanted to say to people.

But somewhere along the way, it all changed…

By the time I had gone passed 30 I was a wreck. I don’t know if it was all the negative results of my past, or if my brain just suddenly decided you’re weird and everyone hates you. But I slowly found myself more and more unable to make eye contact with people, go to places alone without a panic attack, willingly meet new people…

Social anxiety really fucks with you. A lot. Before I even leave my house of a morning I have already spent at least ten minutes overthinking whoever I might bump into on route to work, who might be judging what I’m wearing, what new people at work might think of me etc.

As I’ve expressed in many other blog posts, having ADHD really doesn’t help with social anxiety. I have those ‘impulsive’ moments where I will do or say something in the heat of the moment, which is likely to be considered a bit weird. And then my social anxiety will repeat whatever cringe thing I did for the next 4085 days, or longer.

Back in 2017/2018 I had cognitive behavioural therapy for my social anxiety. For a while, it helped. I managed to try out some new things and at the time I had just come out of a relationship and started hanging with a new group of friends, things felt slightly more positive at that point.

But then, as always, I didn’t quite fit in and went back to my old routines. I’m not sure if Covid/lockdown basically made it a thousand times worse. But now, the idea of even going somewhere where there might be people I don’t know very well or haven’t met properly terrifies me.

Even the idea of being around certain people that I do know creeps me out. It’s like, I don’t know how to function socially anymore. I’ve always been known as a ‘socially awkward’ person by most friends and family. Or ‘a bit weird’. But it’s got to a point where that’s all I think about, how unlikeable I am, how stupid I am, how annoying everyone thinks I am, how creepy some guys think I am etc. It’s all too much for my head.

But part of me wonders, is it naturally just worsening with age?

Maybe, the older I get, the more I think about everything I’ve said and done. I’m all for learning new things about yourself and self-growth. But I think somewhere along the way I have overanalysed every single friendship and relationship I’ve ever had, and come to the conclusion I shouldn’t be around people that much. It’s weird.

Sometimes I would give anything to go back to being that young Zoë who just did what she did and couldn’t care less what other people think. Then the other part of me knows that young Zoë wasn’t always the best character and I’m a lot better now. But the social anxiety, it’s not as logical.

I always thought social anxiety was something you could just ‘grow out of’ once you meet the right people.

Oh how wrong I was…

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