Note: This is a question from a Social Anxiety online community.

The Question

Is avoidance part of social anxiety? 

— CC

(this question was heavily summarized — please see section “The Full Question” below “The Answer” to read the asker’s full question)

The Answer

The answer to this question is definitely “yes.”

Anxiety is uncomfortable, so when we experience it, we visibly show the discomfort though shaking, nervousness, trembling voices. On the other hand, we might choose to run away or avoid situations that are known to cause anxiety in us. The latter can develop into a more serious Avoidant Personality Disorder or in some extremes, Agoraphobia (a condition where a person feels unsafe outdoors, so they never leave their home… Jodie Foster’s character in the movie Nim’s Island had this).

The beauty of avoidance is that it allows us to live without a lot of the uncomfortable feelings of social anxiety. The disadvantage of avoidance, however, is that we will have less opportunity to grow socially, leaving us with less friendships, less experiences, less romantic opportunities, and poor social skills. I know personally how this avoidance pattern goes, and that’s how I ended up with zero friends and an inability to carry on a conversation when I finished high school.

The interesting thing is that CC is almost about to graduate high school. This means that CC cannot avoid all interactions, because CC needs to go to school. By being forced into these situations through work, school, in a way, it forces CC to being in a social setting and forces the anxiety. That can help the anxiety get better, it can cause a person to become acclimated to being in social settings, or it can make the person dread interactions.

In Nim’s Island, Jodie Foster plays an agoraphobic named Alexandra, who writes adventure books. I am not sure if she was agoraphobic (you can think of it as someone who stays home to avoid the anxiety-provoking outside world) then realized writing books could allow her to stay indoors forever, or the other way around, but in the movie, you can see how she has to structure her life around her condition. She writes about adventures because she herself has none, she has an assistant bring her food, and she has no social life.


If you continue on an avoidant path, your life will be similar to Alexandra, because your options in life will be limited. You will choose only jobs where you can stay invisible and/or work by yourself. You will avoid social gatherings and appear as unsocial. You will not give any effort to finding a significant other. You will likely bury yourself in video games or other entertainment. Your social circle will likely be family and people you meet on the internet (it’s not the same as real life friends, trust me). And worst of all, many things you would like to do would be out of your reach, because of all the socializing required to get there… and you’ll probably shrug it off as something you didn’t want anyway, like the fox dismissing the grapes in Aesop’s Fables.

Does the above scenario worry you at all?

In addition, I told CC that it is great to recognize these avoidant or anxious behaviors. A lot of us act without knowing why we do so, so it’s difficult to understand and modify our behavior. If you find yourself acting avoidant or anxious in social situations, don’t just shrug it off as being introverted or not being interested in people! It’s possible you are experiencing cognitive dissonance, a mental anguish caused by conflicts between your actions and what beliefs, leading you to make excuses for why you are the way you are. You are human, and most humans want social interaction, so buckle up, and begin reading my articles, subscribe by email, and develop yourself socially.

The Full Question

Alright so I fairly recently stumped open the fact that I most likely have social anxiety, as I’ve learned that avoidance plays part of it a lot.

It seems I did have the following things in the past:

  • Standing up against the bully, with shaking legs and pounding heart,

  • Not owing a phone in 2018 so I avoid a lot of uncomfortable formalities such as WhatsApp,

  • Doing presentations if I have to (otherwise I avoid) sloppy as I know my ‘best’ would be awkward and humiliating, this way only being hilarious

  • Remembering one random social interaction (date is pretty much between 5 years and today and asking myself if I choose the correct words, etc.

  • Avoiding giving true answers to question being asked as I know they would lead to awkwardness (I’m into Anime, etc.)

  • Shrieking up by a sound which notifies a customer is there (whether calling by phone or door) in work experience

  • Several specific situations that I really can’t recall, but I had shaking legs and a pounding heart, mostly when I face authority

And I remember that at some point for some days I did have fear of something (“finally I am getting hated by everyone” kind of thing, kind of relieved of the anticipation), which later on revealed to be non-important

BUT I made it through 12 years of school and the only things I’m good at literally will make me become a book author, so do you think I should seek a therapist, even though I’m more or less content with social anxiety, because as an introvert I won’t mind being that much alone…? Or should I brood out and wait till it worsens?

  • Oh, and one last note, for some reason when I write those kind of post when I reveal a side of me I haven’t revealed before, I’ll regret it in the morning when I wake up. One of the stronger things I get reminded of when I had to think about whether that was social anxiety or not.

Hmm, I don’t really feel lonely in a sense, as I have people on the internet to talk with (literally Reddit) and thus feeling a sense of community. The thing is, though, that this does not translate well over to the real world; All my interest, hobbies and the way I speak do not match the education and social group I’m currently available without seeking to; but I do not really want to seek other people that probably would have the kind of interests like me, because like I said before, I can find them on the internet. Also that would be a little bit hard in my country as the main language is not English. You might have discovered already that I’m a non-native English speaker.

But my teacher says I’m well too quiet and that I do well too less social interaction with my class mates. The thing is, I gave my best to have minimum social interaction, in a way, because that would be otherwise awkward after all.

If I look back, I probably haven’t made friends in a class to more than one. This way if before nobody was bullied, I was destined to become a bullying victim.

In my country you can basically more or less level up your social status by going up the schools; I couldn’t care less; as I can seek all kind of wisdom and information on the internet, especially thanks to being able to speak two languages on a good term.

But at some point I did care. I wanted to get away from the personalities that loved to hurt others when they’re bored, or are anti-social in general. The hilarious thing was they all couldn’t care less for others, but as soon as they were in their group they were social with each other. Ridiculous.

So in a sense, I probably accepted that I’m just not fitting in the social group I’m currently thrown in, which probably at the end leads me to questioning if I was rude or not, because the way I think what is rude and what is not, they do not think like that.

I don’t really know how to put this, but I definitely hide almost everything from others, because I’m literally afraid from being judged. Not because it would be painful, but rather because the days in school would be uncomfortable and annoying. I am a person who keeps school and home separate, so in a sense I do all in my might to avoid both getting interconnected.

Speaking on a phone is always uncomfortable. Even doing a presentation is, that is for sure. I think several times of the presentation weeks ahead. In the 8. grade it was literally the reason why I dropped any hope in achieving a higher educational status because I had to do one presentation every week. For some reason I managed not to get revealed in those presentation, but like I said before I just did them sloppy or not at all.

So in a sense, they’re symptoms of a SA, but I believe they have unusual reasons why they’re there, right? That’s why I’m still a little bit confused.