Signs and symptoms of social anxietyPerceived rejection or is it, someone, who struggles with feeling socially awkward or who struggles with social anxiety.

I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day and my husband bumped the back of a person’s chair which was behind him, I suggested to my husband that he moves to another chair. When the lady made eye contact with me who was sitting next to the person whose chair my husband bumped. I said to her that there should be more space now for her partner to sit, the space is quite cramped, but we made a plan. She ignored me flat out. Initially, as a very outgoing person, I experienced her behaviour as rejection towards me because if it was me, I would have thanked her. A few minutes later sitting in the hairdresser I started doing some introspection, had I spoken in a rude tone, did she maybe not hear me. All of a sudden, I realized that so many times as people we perceive people’s behaviour as a reflection of our behaviour when in fact in this instance it could have been that the lady that ignored me, might be struggling with social anxiety and because the place was so small and overcrowded, she did not hear me as she was overwhelmed herself. This encouraged me when I perceive rejection from someone to see it as a redirection, not to retaliate in rejection, but rather to respect the person’s inability or lack of response, to treat them with kindness, respect and love. After all, people’s social anxiety partially stems from the fear of rejection, alongside some other symptoms.

As stated by the Mayo clinic:

“Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms of Social Anxiety”

Social anxiety disorder includes fear, anxiety and avoidance that interfere with relationships, daily routines, work, school or other activities. Social anxiety disorder typically begins in the early to mid-teens, though it can sometimes start in younger children or in adults.

Emotional and behavioural symptoms

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include constant:

  • Fear of situations in which you may be judged negatively
  • Worry about embarrassing or humiliating yourself
  • Intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
  • Fear of physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment, such as blushing, sweating, trembling or having a shaky voice
  • Avoidance of doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
  • Avoidance of situations where you might be the centre of attention
  • Anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event
  • Intense fear or anxiety during social situations
  • Analysis of your performance and identification of flaws in your interactions after a social situation
  • Expectation of the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation

For children, anxiety about interacting with adults or peers may be shown by crying, having temper tantrums, clinging to parents or refusing to speak in social situations.

Physical symptoms

Physical signs and symptoms can sometimes accompany social anxiety disorder and may include:

  • Blushing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Feeling that your mind has gone blank
  • Muscle tension

Avoiding common social situations

Common, everyday experiences may be hard to endure when you have a social anxiety disorder, including:

  • Interacting with unfamiliar people or strangers
  • Attending parties or social gatherings
  • Going to work or school
  • Starting conversations
  • Making eye contact
  • Dating
  • Entering a room in which people are already seated
  • Returning items to a store
  • Eating in front of others
  • Using a public restroom

Social anxiety disorder symptoms can change over time. They may flare up if you’re facing a lot of changes, stress or demands in your life. Although avoiding situations that produce anxiety may make you feel better in the short term, your anxiety is likely to continue over the long term if you don’t get treatment” (Mayo Clinic,2021).

Mayo Clinic, June 19, 2021, Social Anxiety Disorder (social phobia), Retrieved from:

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