If you're familiar with social anxiety, you know what it feels like to be afraid of every human being, sometimes yourself included. You're afraid that people are judging you, hating you, wishing you away. You feel like you're being slightly strangled as you're trying to think of what to say, sweating, heart seizing in anticipation of the reaction to your "Hi." You cry sometimes thinking that whether or not you have people who call themselves your friends and a family that loves you, you'll always be alone. The feeling in that moment, the fear of being alone, is visceral. Your entire body feels it. You're hollow.
What's strange is that you can tuck these things away. You can smile, make small talk, go out with your friends and genuinely have a good time. So the next day, when you have to go to class and see them again, why are you suddenly worried? Why do you suddenly think the girls you drunkenly split a pizza with last night hate you this morning? Why do you think you're the least likeable, most awkward person and your head and heart pound thinking of having to have more conversation. What is there to be afraid of that you haven't done before?
The terrible thing about anxiety is, once your anxiety levels get too high, the rational part of your brain actually shuts off. Then, since the irrational part of your brain is the only part working, you're not going to be able to think through the anxiety, you're just going to continue repeating worrisome fears that the rational you might know are silly. Unfortunately, what you have to do isn't easy: you have to calm down. If you can calm down a little, you can start rationalising again. You'll still be anxious, but you'll be able to begin to interrogate the truths of your fears. You'll be able to say, wait a minute, these people are my friends, of course they like me. You'll be able to say, I'm not alone, I have my family, my friends, my boyfriend.
What also helps is practice. Go out with a group of people when you don't want to. Go on that blind date you friend arranged but that you planned on backing out of. Go to the gym even though you're scared people will stare at you. Honestly, it's gonna suck. Every time. You will be anxious every time. But then you're not letting the anxiety win. You're saying, okay, my body feels afraid of this, my heart is racing, I'm sweating, my mouth is dry, but my mind is not afraid. I know in my mind that I will be okay. And do it.
Video: What Social Anxiety Feels Like