Not many people know this and it will probably seem like a bit of a shock especially as I travel the world by myself and have now been to 75 countries but I suffer from bouts of social anxiety.
If you haven't heard of it, it's a phobia that makes you feel unable to leave the house and is similar to those of a panic attack (which I experienced many of in my twenties) and although I don't believe in labels, this is a recurring symptom for me.
And as I'm writing this, I'm experiencing another bout of it. I'm sat in an apartment that I found on Couchsurfing and have been sitting here alone for the last three hours unable to go out. The longer I sit here, the greater the anxiety of going out is rising. It feels silly as there's no real logical reason why I'm feeling like this but the very thought of opening the door and going outside fills me with dread.
As an introvert with social anxiety, it doesn't happen often but when it does, it's hard to overcome.
The only way for me to combat it is to tell myself it's not a logical fear. It makes me feel as though I can't face the world but I know I have to. When I'm travelling with others, staying in dorms, and being in the company of people I don't even feel it but being alone for a long time seems to trigger the symptoms.
I'm writing this post to try and inspire others who get the symptoms to overcome it too. It does not stop me from travelling and does not hinder my experiences but only because I don't let it. Sometimes the thought of going out is too overwhelming but the worse thing you can do it is give into it. Make plans, arrange to meet someone so you have to leave the house, plan the next part of your trip to take your mind of the anxiety or just open the door and take a few deep breaths to tell yourself that it's okay out there.
For me, surrounding myself with others is the best cure, but it's just getting to them that causes the mind block. If I can travel solo experiencing these symptoms, anyone can. Don't let fears stop you from living your dream. They are only what's in your mind and not real.
So for now, I am going to open the door with a deep breath, and get myself back out into the wide world…soon