Social Phobia, Me Again.

Updated on May 04, 2013
M.E. asks from Tampa, FL
18 answers

As a child I was a social outcast, a nerd. I was overweight, had horrible acne, bad perm, oversized, thick glasses. I was a mess. I was a complete introvert but managed to have a few friends. One became my best friend and was very loyal to me. She moved away when we were in highschool but as adults we still talk every few months.

I was depressed a lot during the teen years. Once I lost the weight, my skin cleared up, and I got contacts, I felt slightly more confident. My reputation for being a nerd followed me into high school as I could not lose that classification. Kids don't forget it and form clicks.

In college things changed. I met a lot of people, joined a sorority and felt happier. However, I still felt socially awkward. I wasn't the girl other girls went to for advice, help. Nobody really needed me. Friends told me I was fun when I was drunk. That's the only time I relaxed. My now husband was my best friend.

We moved to Florida a few years ago. No family around. Rarely talk to old friends except on Facebook. As

As an adult, I still feel extremely uncomfortable in social situations. I don't feel this way with men, only women. If I have to be in a group with a bunch of women my age, I feel a social phobia. I over analyze everything to the point where it's like sensory overload. I force myself to relax if I feel this way, but not sure if it helps. A bunch of social daisy scout events are coming up that I almost sure I'm expected to go to with my daughter. We are both quiet and I think other women feel it because I'm not exactly the type that other women pal around with. I can get in a few words here and there with other women but most times it's exhausting. I don't want to be the quiet mom with no friends. But maybe this is not my crowd. Should I go to these events and suffer through it?Beg my mother in law to come with me so I don't feel so out of place?

My social issue is such a problem that I almost want to take my daughter out of scouts next year so I don't have to deal with the social phobia. I won't do that if she is enjoying it and having fun

Any suggestions? I know some of you have said "go to a counselor." It's a consideration. Sometimes I wish we could move back to NJ where all our friends are. I don't always want to be here, but my husband's job is here so it's a forget it.

I think this runs in my family. My mom doesn't like group situations and is usually better one on one with people. My Dad was terribly shy. My Aunt claims she is lonely often.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks for the helpful advice. I really just am painfully shy and not sure how to fit in with women I don't know very well.

I tried some techniques that other suggested for a girl scouts outing. I sometimes talked to the kids, made myself useful, acted relaxed. A woman started walking with me on a hike and talked to me. She was nice but a bit of blabbermouth, so I had to distance myself after a while.

Later in the outing, I heard a woman say that her phone died and she couldn't take anymore pictures of her and her granddaughter Normally, I would ignore this, but I decided to be nice and offered to take pictures for her and send them via text. The woman was so grateful. We started talking and she shared with me that she was dying of cancer. I shared that my sister had just died. She said she was my angel and that's why we met. Amazingly, conversation went smoothly after that with other women.

Featured Answers



answers from Tampa on

There is nothing wrong with being shy or an introvert. However, I agree with the other mothers who suggest professional help. I say this only because you sound on the verge of depression because of these circumstances. Perhaps therapy will teach you techniques to deal with these situations without leaving you feeling so empty and down. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

You might need therapy to help you in these social situations.

I have an easier time relating to men then women. You might have to seek people with higher IQs to be friends with as you might have more in common (nerdy). Most of my life I have had a few women friends but we are not the type to go shopping all day long.

Try a hobby or a craft or go back to school to meet.

Good luck to you.

the other S.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Columbia on

Hi Mary,

I find it fascinating that you just posted about the other mom not being friendly, and now here about feeling socially awkward. Have you considered that the reason that the other mom isn't friendly is because you're putting out an uncomfortable, awkward vibe? And that your body language might be saying to others "I really don't want to be here!"

I do think that you need to talk to someone about your anxiety and how to move past it. Yes, it is anxiety. But you can learn to find coping mechanisms. And you CAN make just need to learn to reach in the right direction.

The Daisy troop just isn't "your crowd," so don't worry about it. Just be there for your daughter and focus on her. Her activities are not required to be your social gatherings. You don't have to make friends with the mothers. It's okay.

I advise that you think of the things you love to do...and then start looking for groups and activities for YOU that are related to those things. Quit trying to force yourself out of your comfort zone. If you're a reader, join a book club. If you're a crafter, find a club that does that. Or a local class. When you're doing things you love and feel comfortable with, you'll find it easy to engage people in conversation...especially when what they enjoy is the same thing you do! Just be yourself.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have the exact opposite problem. At social events I become so nervous, I motor mouth. I am a know it all, and cant control my blabbering. I try a few breathing exercises. I try to tell myself to just be myself. I can sometimes control it, most of the times I just start my ramblings and then I know I have lost them when the glaze comes over their eyes.

I have made a few good friends since becoming an adult, but no life long besties. I have 2 people left from High school that I associate with, but our get together's are few and far between.

I would go, for the sake of your daughter. Does it matter if you are the quiet mom, that doesnt gossip, or be a chatty kathy? Sometimes quiet moms are needed. If your daughter sees you doing the social gathering game, it will help her later with her social needs.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

once you realize most of us are socially awkward in some way and all have issues from childhood maybe you can get over it?

I was dorky in school. i went to an all girl catholic school in the city and skateboarded in the 90's and listened to manson had teal hair and a spike collar. i didnt fit in although i was friends with all clicks and enjoyed my childhood mostly. i didnt make life long friendships though
I tend to have no filter in social settings and speak to freely. i'm probably the one you go home and say I cant believe Jen said X she's a freaking nut. oh well i have fun.

Instead of trying to click with every mom try and find one that seems laid back and talk to her. perhaps a dad? i feel more comfortable with guys. at my daughters events i talk to the dads more then the moms.
why dont you have a few questions thought of in advance about this summer or their kids (people love talking abiout their kids) prepared in your head and go from there

ETA I agree with FLAIMING TURNIP (although who names themselve flaming turnip...freak!)

You cant click with everyone find the people who want to getto know you

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Mary, I think that some sessions with a counselor would really help you and will make these things so much easier for you. You don't want to keep your children from their activities because you're still carrying around baggage from your childhood, right? This is definitely the kind of thing you can be "coached" into improving. A good counselor who is skilled in this area would help you to bring up those old feelings of rejection and inadequacy (sp?) and process them so that you can let them go and would also help you with coping skills and a "script" for social situations.

I don't have social anxiety, but I'd rather give a speech in front of hundreds of people than walk into a party or social situation alone. The thing is, more people than you realize have trouble breaking the ice at these things. I remember when my kids were younger it seemed like when we went to school or sport functions, everyone was greeting each other like they were best friends. In reality, there was only a small percentage of people in any setting who were actual friends, they were just louder and more excited than the rest of us who were standing around feeling awkward. So here are some things that work for me:

1) When at all possible, I connect with a "buddy" before hand so that I don't walk into a social setting alone. Usually just a quick interaction. When going to the company holiday party, I'll ask a colleage "hey what time are you heading down to the party? 5:30? Great I'll swing by your cube and we can walk in together." For a sports or school function maybe a quick text: "hey are you going to X? OK great we'll see you there" or "do you want me to pick you up on the way? You know how crowded the parking gets at these things..."

2) Learn people's names. It's so much less awkward when you can smile, wave, and call out "hi Julie, how are you?" when walking in somewhere. And learn their kids' names. This is harder to do when they get older (I have 4 kids and they all play sports) but it's worth it. When you know who people and their kids are, you can initiate conversations like "wow that was a great play that Nate had earlier!" or "Annie did a beautiful job on that art project, what talent she has!" It's hard to resist someone complimenting your child.

3) Find a job to do - one of the first times that I met my husband's extended family when we were engaged was at his grandfather's funeral. We went to sit shiva at his grandmother's house. I knew very few people and they were all in a state of grief, so I went into the kitchen and helped with making sure that the ice buckets were full, refilled utensils and napkins, put more rolls out, etc. It gave the close family members time to spend with their guests and not worry about logisitics and in doing so, I got to quietly get to know the more distant relatives who were also helping out in the kitchen.

4) Have a script, a list of ice breakers for a variety of situations. Compliment someone's shoes or scarf, talk about the weather, or your local sports teams, or ask if they're doing anything fun this weekend. Ask who their child's teacher is, how their child has liked 1st grade (or soccer, or whatever). Trust that many people are feeling just as awkward as you and will welcome you breaking the ice first.

I hope some of the suggestions help and would definitely seek out the help of a trained counselor for this. It's an anxiety that is well worth conquering, for yourself and your kids!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

You don't need a counselor or therapy because there is nothing wrong with you. Not everyone is the belle of the ball (thank god), and you don't have to distinguish your self-worth by the number of friends you have or make. Look at it this way- others have to be worthy of being your friend. :)
I agree with the other mom and find ways to volunteer and keep busy during these types of social events. This way you have purpose, and people will get to know you that way (and in a way you are more comfortable with). That was excellent advice, I think.
Again, there is nothing wrong with you. If we were all cut out the same cloth, what a boring world it would be.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

It isn't easy but you need to accept that how you see yourself is not how anyone else sees you! This is one of those simple well duh statements, of course they don't, but then when you are around other people you think well what did they mean by that, and we project like the great projectors we are!

How I can go about accepting this simple truth is based how people did perceive me. See I am ADHD and if you are a normal person and you use projection to understand me you aren't even close, hell you are not on the same planet. So if people are missing the mark with me, so badly, it is logical that I am missing the mark with them.

So why do some people choose not to be my friend, projection. They think I blurt out the right answers because I am a not it all, although I do know a lot the term know it all doesn't fit me, I tell people the correct answer because I think that is what they want, because they asked the question. I mean you ask a question you want the correct answer, right? Yeah, no, normal people ask questions for a whole mess of reasons and get the right answer is actually near the bottom if you were to poll the masses. Oops!

I am not trying to do anything other than answer a question, I am not trying to look smart, I am not trying to make someone feel dumb, I am just answering a question and how ever else someone sees it is their issues not mine.

Clear as mud?

So I push a lot of people away right? Yup! but here is the beauty of people, there are some that choose to get to know me, to understand this strange creature. They are few and far between but they are true friends!

You should only want to be friends with those that get you so look at everyone else as social Darwinism. It was going to die out by no fault of your own.

I could fake being someone else and have more fake friends but I am very content having real friends even if there are only a few. :)

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Mary, you are not socially defunct because you don't like Girl Scouts. Not everyTHING is right for everyBODY.

You are likely projecting on to your daughter (who may indeed hate the whole Girl Scout thing as well) that there's something WRONG with you cuz you don't want to do this.

There is nothing WRONG with you. Different strokes for different folks, see?

It's ok to not feel "in place" in the situations you describe. It's just a question of finding the place where you DO feel in place.

A person can live a long fulfilling satisfying life just doing what suits THEM. Find what suits YOU and stop thinking you're lacking in some way because things that suit others don't suit you, ok?

Be comfortable with who you are. You are JUST FINE. We ALL are just fine. Different, but FINE.


7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

sorry, i'm compelled to do it!
i'm not socially phobic quite to your degree, but the older i get, the less i want to spend time with other people unless they are truly kindred spirits (rare.) but when your kids are small, you have to, don't you?
my little mumsie, who was very shy, gave my husband, who is naturally introverted, some great advice years ago, advice which both of them have used so successfully that few people ever guess how hard it has been for them. allow yourself to be the quiet one. if you have an attentive expression (even if you're inwardly yawning), you will be perceived as a great listener. don't feel obliged to 'get a few words in'. if the group is yakking so energetically that there are no conversational lulls, you don't need to put yourself out, do you? but if the group is smaller, or quieter, or there are awkward silences, the golden rule is to ask them a question that solicits their advice. or compliments them. or hearkens back to something they were holding forth on a few minutes ago. anything that allows them to focus back on themselves. it makes them feel interesting, and it takes the spotlight off you. the only drawback is that people will end up loving you so much for using this technique that they will seek you out and you will have to use it even more. but hey, that gives you the opportunity to perfect it!
then escape as soon as you reasonably can to blissful solitude.
don't twist yourself out of true trying to fit into a where group you don't naturally fit. a mildly interested expression and some active listening skills can get you through the most grueling social challenges.
good luck, mama!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You could try counseling if you feel that the phobia is debilitating, but it sounds more as though you are painfully shy. Many people are- including my husband. He would rather pal around with us at home than go to a large gathering of people he "kind of" knows. I'm much more outgoing, so he will often go out with me but I know his limits and respect them.

Having said that, I have found him to be much more comfortable meeting new people in small groups (not 1:1). We have invited 1 or 2 other couples or families to go and do things and that has made it much easier for him. Too many people... he shuts down. Too few people... lots of pressure to maintain a conversation. Small group... things to chat about and can move on to someone else if the conversation lags.

My suggestion to you is that you find our from your daughter who she really connects with in the Daisy Troop. Get 2 or 3 names and start inviting those girls (and their moms) to go do something. It's tough, but if you invite them to join you at the park on a Saturday morning you are putting all of you in a "low stress" environment where supervising your children will offset any pressure.

You should absolutely go to the events to support your daughter. If having your MIL there will make you more comfortable, then invite her. It's not easy to make friends as an adult, but having a few acquaintances will make these events (for the next 15 years) much easier.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You're judging yourself too harshly - we often see ourselves as who we were and in your head, you're the awkward, socially "unwanted" person - so you see the picture of you from outside as that person.That creates the downward spiral of the social fear you have.

And here's the surprise, almost ALL of us feel that. at least to some degree. Only the super social or clueless don't have small feelings of social doubt. You are not alone.

One thing that helped me was Toastmasters. I'm outgoing, but public speaking is tough. In Toastmasters everyone speaks in different capacities. You have to present a mini speech and your fellow members evaluate it. It was my turn to evaluate someone - good points/needs improvement/good points. No problem. The epiphany came when I left. I didn't really remember the person's talk - at all - just very vaguely. I realized then that when we thing people are paying a lot of attention to us, hanging on our words, picking up everything we say, etc., WE ARE COMPLETELY WRONG.

We pay attention to each other on a very basic level, but most of it goes away when we move on to the next thing. We only really pay attention to our loved ones and friends. Everyone else is just basic attention.

I don't know if that helps, but maybe if you can just accept that you ARE the quiet one who likes to listen, will talk when comfortable, likes to help, loves her daughter, etc., that is what you will give off as a vibe. Loving and caring is who you are, not social phobic -you're just not a social butterfly, and that's totally OK. Really, life would be nuts if everyone was the same :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You really do need to see your doc. I can tell from your other posts, and this one, that you have major social anxiety disorder, you aren't just shy. It appears you are unable to read social cues and you want to avoid social situations at all costs - that is not just shy. My mother suffered from this. Please don't let this affect you or your family any more. My childhood was less than fun because my mother failed to address her mental issues. The fact that this runs in your family also solidifies my thoughts on what you have and what you need to do to help it. Moving won't solve your problems.

This is VERY common and VERY fixable. They make plenty of safe medications to help you, you can do therapy, tons of things. You really have to get ahold of this - do it for your daughter. She deserves to be able to participate in things.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi Mary

I was one who suggested counseling on your last post. I mean it kindly.

Here's the thing: I do get where you are coming from. I hatedhatedhated being around women earlier in my life. Went through a rough awkward period in school, too, and trusted no one. My mother also contributed to that thinking: she was always under the impression that other women were a threat to her sense of self and never enjoyed their company-- instead, they were competition. It was sad, because she had only a few short 'girlfriend' relationships with other women and they all eventually fell apart sooner or later. Up until my mid20s, I had more or less a total of four real female friends...until I started getting help with other problems in my life and during the course of healing, this was also addressed.

I get the social anxiety piece of it too. Where your whole body feels like it is shutting down; chest feels tight and breathing is shallow. One can feel nearly terrified meeting up at something social, or painfully out of place. I used to feel that even with people whom I knew and who had been welcoming in the past. It can be debilitating and for people who have dealt with this, we know it's a huge impediment.

You can decide to be complacent about this and chalk it up to 'it runs in the family', but it will be hard for your daughter. Even if you are both introverts (I am myself), she needs to see a healthy, manageable sense of introversion from you. You are her model. You had this modeled for you and you are seeing how difficult it is to navigate things socially as an adult; the same thing may very likely happen to her.

So, you can decide to not address it, but you will also be the co-author of whatever social difficulties your daughter will have to cope with later, or you can try to address it now and show her a more secure, happier mom around other women. The fact that you are considering keeping your daughter out of Daisy Scouts suggests to me that you do need some professional help in dealing with this so that it doesn't further impact your daughter. That would be a hard price for her to pay for your fear. This would be like me saying my son couldn't take a rock-climbing class because *I* have a fear of heights. It's not fair to her.

I think you know what you need to do-- let us know how we can encourage you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Wow - you're just shy. It's not a disease. Don't beat yourself up over this! I am not generally shy but can get really shy in new environments - like a Daisy meeting with other moms. I am certain that you will not be the only mom who feels out of her element. Look for the other ones who are kind of sticking to the outside of the groups. I bet they would welcome another mom who's less than relaxed in that setting.

I also learned that one way to feel comfortable is to ask the people running the meeting if you can come early and help in anyway - bring juice & cookies? Set up thing, make copies, decorate the room, etc.

Then you'll already be there and comfortable when others begin to walk in. You can be the person who reaches out and helps to make them feel comfortable.

I learned that when you get to elementary school there are a lot of parents who already know eachother becuse they have older kids. They've been in that all-purpose room together dozens of times already, they've sat together at little league games for hours, they talk about their older kids who are moving to middle school, etc. They're not uncomfortable now - but I bet they were years ago when their oldest child was in 1st grade.

Dr. Phil once said something that stuck in my mind: "You would not be so concerned about what people thought about you if you realized how seldom they did."

And finally - consider finding a church that has a club ministry for young girls and boys. Our church has Pioneer Girls and Boys Brigade for elementary school age kids that does almost all of the same stuff and Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts - but at a church. That may be a better fit for you.

Good luck mama. I prayed for a best friend - and we've become besties for the last 7 years - (my oldest was in 4th grade). It is a wonderful thing to have a best buddy - and God cares about the details of your life. He does.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I hear you. I have problems with this, too. There are a lot of things that I do because I'm really doing them for my kids, and I don't want them to have the same hang-ups I do.

Be busy. I have a friend who knits for this exact reason. She's not anti-social; she's counting stitches.

Maybe try this: Send an e-mail to the scout leader. I promise you - if she doesn't have an assistant leader already, she needs and wants one. If she DOES have an assistant already, then there are still things you can help with.

-Offer to bring an ironing board to meetings, and iron on the girls' patches. Or even a sewing machine, if that's feasible.
-There are always things that need to be cut out, or glued, or passed out to other moms or whatever. If not for that meeting/event, then next week's meeting/event. Or the kids need help with doing something.
-I find kids are easier to socialize with, anyway. If these are events that aren't regular meetings, you can still say hello to the kids, and at this age they'll no doubt try to monopolize their attention. Let them. Help them tie shoes. Herd kids in the right direction. That sort of thing. I do this ALL THE TIME. I might be socially awkward with the parents, but to the kids, I'm the "cool mom."

Even if the troop leader doesn't NEED you to do these things, you'll get brownie points (couldn't resist the pun!), just for offering, and it was e-mail, so relatively painless points, too. You never know when "relationship points" will add up. Take the easy ones where you can get them!

And, hang in there. When your daughter bridges to Brownies, it'll get easier. A lot of Brownie leaders I know are encouraging the kids to have more independence, and tend to ask parents not to come to every meeting. Or if they do come, to expect to be busy helping. Perfect.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Mary, I feel for you as I've had some social awkwardness as well. I can tell you that I've studied the friendship thing for a few years (probably a little introverted to study this ;) ) and have figured a few things out. Some of the things I'm about to share may apply to you. Take what works for you and throw away the rest :).

1). I first started with therapy to work through my issues. You have to resolve issues to be properly present in relationships.

2). I continued meeting people and decided what I was looking for in friendships and a social life. My children have friends now, so I just concentrate on finding friends with like interests. I look for getting out and doing fun things together and don't worry about developing deeper friendships. If it happens, great, but I'm more concerned about getting out and being/feeling socialized.

3). I have started a women's social group which has a theme and description of what I'm looking for in socialization. Some like-minded women have joined and I've gotten together with three of them outside of the group. Two of the three I like best because I have more in common with them. These are the ones I'll probably stay in touch with. Btw, we have gotten together as couples too and hit it off.

4) Keep yourself busy with hobbies, volunteering, pets, work - PT, FT, out of the home, etc. I found when I was less busy, even when I had two small kids to care for and was for all intents and purposes "busy," my mind wasn't. So I would overthink...I didn't see that one coming. Just remember to stay a healthy busy, so you don't neglect yourself or your loved ones in any way.

5) You don't have to worry about how you come across to people you're not trying to befriend, like the daisy women. Just think of it as being polite - "going in and out." You don't have to spend a lot of time socializing at Daisy Scout events - just every now and again or when it's required.

I wish you the best of luck. You CAN have a healthy social life!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Definitely go see a therapist / counselor! I've been where you are now and it's not only unfair to yourself but also your daughter =( It'll be hard at first and you'll definitely find yourself in some challenging situations but keep at it ..... again if not for yourself then for your daughter! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions