What Social Anxiety Feels Like

To understand anxiety, it is necessary to come up with vivid metaphors.

When I become anxious in a public place, a bothersome and uncomfortable feeling comes over me. I feel embarrassed as if I spilled soda all over myself and my clothes are wet and dirty. My thoughts are turned painfully inward, and it feels as though I am the center of (unwanted) attention.

I feel vulnerable and want to escape. I am extremely self-conscious, as if everyone's eyes are on me: judging my appearance and pose. I may even feel conscious of my walking and start to deliberately putting one leg in fromt of the other and may even trip. I keep thinking, "I look weird," and "I act awkwardly." It is as if I am a criminal, escorted by the police in handcuffs on a perp walk. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin and just want to disappear, to find an exit, to escape.

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