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Autistic people with social anxiety - What are you afraid of or worried about?

What is the primary object of your social anxiety (what you're afraid of or worried might happen)?

  • Being rejected

    Votes: 3 9.7%
  • Being excluded

    Votes: 1 3.2%
  • Being criticized

    Votes: 4 12.9%
  • People thinking you're dumb

    Votes: 2 6.5%
  • Feeling like you don't belong

    Votes: 2 6.5%
  • Getting physically assaulted

    Votes: 1 3.2%
  • People thinking you're weird, abnormal, or different

    Votes: 4 12.9%
  • Making a fool of yourself

    Votes: 3 9.7%
  • Something else

    Votes: 9 29.0%
  • I'm unsure what I'm worried about or afraid of

    Votes: 2 6.5%

  • Total voters
    31

Matthias

Well-Known Member
My understanding is that social anxiety in autistic people is different than social anxiety disorder which often involves a fear of being rejected.

For those of you who have anxiety around people, what are you anxious about, afraid of, or worried might happen if you approach other people and interact with them?
 
I'll bite...

Many people here on the forum know that I photograph people I don't know all the time as part of my street photography... But then for me the camera lens is almost what I talk through, to start a conversation

But...

One enormous area where I struggle is small talk at a event where it is primarily people mingling/networking event, etc... I almost freeze up socially, and walk around the room feeling extremely awkward, because everyone is in groups already, perhaps a form of anxiety, I'm not sure what

However when there is a performance of some sort to focus on I am generally fine, because I don't really have to mingle and can watch the performance
 
I'm mainly afraid of people asking me how I feel about something, and not feeling comfortable saying that I don't know how I feel.
 
In my case, I can get attached easily. I allow myself to connect and it can feel good to do that. But then I often feel a need to step away, to shut down, and will usually avoid the person if I don't want more interaction. I can't explain it to them, and I have tried in the past, but it is just easier to do it, and easier still if I don't interact like that in the first place. I don't like feeling this way, and I'm therefore anxious this will happen.
 
For me it's pretty straight forward. I walk weird, I look weird, I act weird and so I was mocked in the past. I learned that only when I'm not being observed is when I can move the way that's comfortable for me. So today, whenever anyone is watching me, I feel pain and pressure like I'm on stage acting in a play. The anxiety comes from the fear of messing up my act. Even though I haven't been mocked in years even when I mess up this act, the pain is already directly associated with people seeing me and no longer with what they think or do. I feel this pain in things as simple as walking by my parents as I go outside.
 
I am similar to @Sherlock77 , but I don't think this is about anxiety, so much as the intuitive system of communication used by NT people not being so available to me, and processing differences. Anything I can develop or work on has been done, this is the core I am left with. I think if autism was better understood a lot of anxiety associated with these differences would be alleviated.

We're a bit different, and /or from our perspective, they are.
 
Unpredictability, I like to know everything, every little detail for me to even attend something socially usually. We like to know things with certainty, it helps us predict.

I wouldn't say I worry about people's judgement or opinion. More about being self aware and having self control to handle myself without becoming volatile if something didn't go to plan or I got caught up in some trivial confrontation.
 
It's not a fear, but I hate “small talk” and like to avoid it like the plague. I do not like chit-chat...it's pointless. "Hot enough for ya?" AAAHHHHHH!

For me, it's being out of my comfort zone…unpredictable. I do not like not having control over the situation and environment. I know I cannot control the actions of others, therefore, I am possibly subjected to their stupidity, which I’d rather not be involved in.
 
I knew pretty early on that I was not normal and after a whilewas always afraid of being singled out, like my first day in kindergarten when I saw this fascinating thing that I took for a detailed model house. I was sternley admonished by the teacher that I should never play with girl things. From then, I was afraid to do much. Little things like that and criticisms of me led to being very introverted. Starting in Jr. High I never understood the social dynamics that were developing and it just got worst in HS. I never fit in, felt embarrased constantly, and so became fearful of rejection. That ruled my social life until 25, when a desire for a relationship became overwhelming and I started to learn to be social and recognize accepting people.
 
I knew pretty early on that I was not normal and after a whilewas always afraid of being singled out, like my first day in kindergarten when I saw this fascinating thing that I took for a detailed model house. I was sternley admonished by the teacher that I should never play with girl things. From then, I was afraid to do much. Little things like that and criticisms of me led to being very introverted. Starting in Jr. High I never understood the social dynamics that were developing and it just got worst in HS. I never fit in, felt embarrased constantly, and so became fearful of rejection. That ruled my social life until 25, when a desire for a relationship became overwhelming and I started to learn to be social and recognize accepting people.

I never understood social dynamics, but then I never really cared much about it. Most of the time I enjoyed by myself and I still do.

Just had a flashback of my little plastic guitar that I use to carry around at kindergarten. That use to be my comfort. Wow...thanks for bringing back that memory.
 
I often feel worse when I'm around a group of people but I'm not sure why I feel worse. I sometimes worry I will make a fool out of myself or that people will think I'm weird or criticize me but most of the time I'm not thinking about anything so I don't even know if what I experience is due to anxiety or something else. It kind of seems like my brain automatically reacts negatively to other people for some unknown reason. I'd really like to pinpoint the cause of it since it's a big problem for me.
 
I get this feeling of sensory overload. It is like my brain can’t handle picking up on social queues and formulating speech simultaneously. Then frustration enters the picture. And it becomes too much for my brain to process. It feels like my brain is uncoordinated.

Then there’s the psychological aspect of having been ridiculed and socially ostracized throughout my life.

My brain freezes up, and I literally become speechless and unable to communicate effectively. I become so anxious in social settings that I avoid them altogether.

But I was diagnosed late in life because there was essentially no such thing as an Asperger’s diagnosis when I was a child. Had I known back then, I may have not developed social anxiety - at least not to this extent.

That’s my two cents - or should I say three cents because of this absurd inflation going on.
 
A complicated answer for me. I'm guessing a healthy combo of:
- fear of being criticized (mostly family)
- fear of being judged (by family and strangers)
- hating small talk (with everyone)
- some paranoia with certain people with negative social agendas of which I've been an easy target in the past
- being generally uncomfortable around people. Maybe something to do with the uncertainty of the situation, of what will come out of it.
- fear of not meeting others' social expectations which is usually the case
- interaction with anyone is draining
- the love for solitude and peace overshadows my motivation for social interaction (the lockdown part of the pandemic was such a relief for me!)
- also knowing that others have a social agenda (something they need to get out of a social interaction that I cannot provide) and I never do. I'm very laidback but others seem to have expectations. Can't we all just chill out for once?

I'm pretty good at masking, something that I pretty much developed out of forced interactions growing up. But it's a Catch-22 as I'm guessing it may have caused my social anxiety in the first place.
 
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"Something else" category.

1. What I am thinking vs the words that come out of my mouth. I struggle with getting points across to people in a meaningful way.
2. I tend to monologue vs. converse. My conversational reciprocity doesn't work well. Tends to make people back-peddle.
3. I do not have the skills to jump in-and-out of a group conversation,...almost always causes me to avoid these situations,...or, I sit and observe without contributing.
4. Nobody seems to be interested in the things I am,...or at least not at the intellectual level that I am.
5. Group conversations are often too quick and jump from one topic to the next,...and I can't seem to keep up. I am still thinking of an earlier topic and the conversation has moved on to others.
6. Most people do not understand how I make connections between topics. I am an "out-of-the-box" thinker that when expressed often causes confused facial expressions.
7. I don't like noisy restaurants, bars, crowds,...anywhere there is excessive talking.
8. I keep my self in a rather "neutral" emotional state, as I don't modulate my emotional states well enough to be socially appropriate,...and it can be rather embarrassing. So,...I appear as if I am not enjoying the moment,...when, on the inside, I might be. When people around me are laughing hysterically,...I might give a small smirk. When people are crying around me,...I struggle to keep a straight face and not react (it's hard). I know that people notice this behavior, and may be misinterpreting what they are seeing.
 
But I was diagnosed late in life because there was essentially no such thing as an Asperger’s diagnosis when I was a child. Had I known back then, I may have not developed social anxiety - at least not to this extent.
I don't know? Perhaps I could have benefitted from social counseling too. I think some of that is offered nowadays, but I do not know how effective it is.
 
I'm not really worried or afraid of anything, I just get anxious by being there at all. Having to be in their world, their stores, their public space, is what makes me anxious. I'm not afraid of being bullied, I don't worry about fitting in. I just get anxious because I don't want to be there. :)
 
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