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social anxiety issues

So I’ve just started university, many of my friends are moving away to the city and adult things are starting to happen for me. The problem is, I think I have social anxiety. I hate to self-diagnose but anxious thoughts and physical reactions have been affecting me for around two years now and I’ve done a lot of research and thinking about it. I just haven’t seen a therapist or anything yet because I’m not 18 and scared of telling my parents. The symptoms I have currently are a nervous stomach, irritable bowel problems (lmao), sweating, feeling of being constantly watched, unable to speak to/in a crowd, can’t talk on the telephone, panicking about conversation, etc. 


My biggest fear right now is the adult world. Being in school, I was very sheltered with friends and a community I was comfortable with, so the anxiety was easier to manage. But now that I’m doing independent stuff, the social part of life is suddenly quite hard. I can’t walk into a lecture, tutorial, the library or even around campus without feeling naked and exposed, like everyone’s eyes are crawling over me like insects. I might add supermarket to that list too - pretty much, I get very anxious if I’m walking around without a purpose or destination. My parents want me to spend time with school acquaintances who go to the same uni, but that would make me really anxious and intimidated and being around those people takes me back to my school-self which I want to grow away from. I feel the need to always please my superiors (like my boss or lecturer idk) and I hate being a nuisance. I’m also really scared that, while I’m still in contact with school friends, I won’t make any new, nearby friends at university and I’ll become a hermit because I’m too scared to interact with the world. Any advice lmao?

Re: social anxiety issues

Heya @georgiabread,


Fellow socially anxious uni student here! I firstly just wanted to emphasise that starting uni is a massively life transition even for the most well-adjusted people! It can definitely take a while to settle in and adjust Heart


You mention you haven't spoken to a professional about this yet - is it something you'd consider doing? Even if you're still under 18, you'll be covered under confidentiality laws which means they can't tell your parents anything. Most unis have free counseling services which are often a good place to start. What do you think?


What sort of hobbies/interests do you have? It might be worth looking to see if there are any clubs or societies on campus which interest you, as they're an easy way to make friends (particularly if you're studying on a big campus/cohort). Meeting new people suuuuucks when it comes to anxiety, so I find it helpful to know that I already have something in common with the people I'm with.


Will also tag a few fellow uni students for their thoughts


@letitgo@Esperanza67 @mrmusic @N1ghtW1ng 

No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish

Re: social anxiety issues

Hello @georgiabread!


First of all, congrats on making it to university! I was also scared about the idea of not making new friends at uni when I first started uni. What helped me was going to any events at my uni that were specifically targeted towards first-year students as they enabled me to meet other like-minded people. What do you think of this?


Obviously, this may sound a lot easier said than done, and so this is where @lokifish's advice about possibly considering seeing a professional comes in. You've mentioned that you haven't seen a therapist or anything like that because you're 18, but I was wondering if you've heard of headspace? They're a mental health service specifically designed for young people. Maybe you could check them out? What do you think of this?



Hope is just around the corner; you think it's not there when you first look straight ahead, but it actually is when you turn around

Re: social anxiety issues

@lokifish I’ve been thinking about the uni counselling but I need to do more research on it I guess; also it’s a bit scary to make that decision to get counselling but I’ll try working on it. As for clubs and things, I’m part of a creative writing group which I’ll try to participate in more. It’s hard cause my uni mostly has STEM clubs and I’m an art student lol. But thank you for the kind reply! I am thinking a lot about your advice <3

Re: social anxiety issues

@Esperanza67 I think there’s a few events and things - movie nights, games of quidditch (amazing right?) - but it’s hard to find the courage to commit to those events and actually go, especially without friends in the first place.

I’ve checked out headspace quite a bit but haven’t been able to access their online counselling yet. I would prefer to have a face-to-face talk with someone, where uni counselling would come in I guess. Argh it’s just that initial anxiety about approaching counselling that gets me!!

Re: social anxiety issues

Hey there @georgiabread,


Both @lokifish and @Esperanza67 have given some fantastic advice Smiley Happy University clubs and events can be a great way of meeting new people but it can definitely be hard to go to them. It's awesome that you're already in a creative writing group, I hope that continues to go well for you Smiley Happy It can be hard when universities focus more on science and mathematics rather than the arts. Do you think there's anyone else in your degree who would be interested in an arts group? Your lecturer or tutors could be able to help you set something like that up if you're interested. 


It's great that you know what you prefer. While headspace does offer online appointments, if you're close to a centre they do also have face-to-face psychologists. Though I can imagine seeing the university counselor may be more convenient. It's absolutely okay to be anxious about seeing someone, do you think you'd be able to email the counselor at your uni about your anxiety? Having a prior conversation with them may help ease some of the initial anxiety, what do you think?


I am finishing with ReachOut this week, say good-bye here. I'll miss you all!

Re: social anxiety issues

Yeah @georgiabread I totally agree with you: finding the courage to go to these events without knowing anyone going is really hard (even though quidditch games are tempting)!

For me, my personal experiences with uni counselling have been really positive, because not only they can be free to access (yay!), but they offered more tailored advice towards helping you transition through uni. I remember when I did my first uni counselling appointment I was really nervous (despite having already seeking therapy several times in the past!). But my counsellor was so nice and lovely and reassured me that I wasn't the only student going through the struggles I had with uni. She also gave me out her email address so I could easily contact her if I had any questions following the appointment.

Let me know if you have any questions about uni counselling, I'm more than happy to share more of my experiences with uni counselling with you Smiley Happy.
Hope is just around the corner; you think it's not there when you first look straight ahead, but it actually is when you turn around