I will write out texts to friends, hover over the send button, and then erase the words. I will go days, weeks, months without talking to people I miss with all of my heart because I am too nervous to send the first message to them.

There is not a logical reason for this — but I will try to rationalize it anyway. I will tell myself they would have sent me a text if they were interested in talking. I will tell myself they are probably too busy to answer me back and it would be rude of me to bother them. I will tell myself there is nothing interesting for me to say and the conversation would end shortly after it began. I will convince myself it is better to remain silent than to reach out to them because they probably don’t want to hear from me anyway.

My anxiety makes me doubt whether anyone cares about me as much as I care about them. It makes me second-guess whether I am wanted even when someone begs me to come out with them.

My anxiety convinces me to say no to plans and cancel the ones I have already made. Even if I have been feeling restless, even if I have been dying to leave the house, I will always find an excuse to stay home and hibernate. I will tell myself I do not have enough time to spare because there are a million other things I have to get done. I will tell myself it is too much of a hassle to shower and get changed and put on makeup. I will tell myself everyone will have more fun without me in the room.

I look like a flake because I am too embarrassed to tell my friends the truth about my anxiety. Someone might think I’m rude for staring at my phone in the middle of dinner, when really, I’m feeling awkward about having nothing to add to the conversation. Someone might think I’m snobby for avoiding them in public, when really, I’m too nervous to walk over and say hello. Someone might think I’m mean for leaving a party early, when really, I had a panic attack in the bathroom and cannot stand any more social interaction that day.

My anxiety causes misunderstandings. It makes people assume they mean nothing to me, when really, I am busy worrying I mean nothing to them.

I hate how my anxiety causes me to drive people away — but I’m not sure how to fix the problem. I cannot turn my anxiety off like a light switch. I cannot choose when I am in the mood to socialize and when socializing is a chore. I cannot control how nervous I get around people.

I am not trying to push anyway away. I am not trying to distance myself. It happens on accident. It happens without me even realizing it.

If my anxiety has pushed you away, I’m sorry.

And if you are still here, I’m trying.

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