Is this social anxiety?

I always feel awkward and anxious, and find it hard to make friends. And even when I hang out with my friends, I also feel awkward, like I don’t really fit in, or I’m too boring because I don’t talk much. Sometimes I even avoid social contacts due to nervousness. I stay in my room all the time, and it’s extremely depressing, because I feel like I’m missing out in life, and wasting my time in Australia, not knowing anything about its culture and lifestyle. It’s not that I have culture shock or anything, I feel like the problem is in myself. Is it social anxiety? Should I seek help?

Reading in between the lines it appears that you are an international student who has not found your feet socially in Australia. You don’t believe that your problem connecting with others is related to what you call “culture shock”. Still, it is a significant change moving to a new country, and the challenges related to this transition may be contributing to your current problem.

Even if that’s the case, you are describing symptoms of social anxiety, and, as a result, low mood. Staying in your room to avoid contact must feel very isolating and frustrating. Whilst avoiding social situations is one way of coping with nervousness, over time it tends to make the situation worse, and even increases our anxiety and isolation. The fact that you are contacting our Ask Counselling website is a sign that you are well aware of your problem, and reaching out for help, which is a good first step. . The good news is that this is a common issue for a lot of people, and there are many helpful strategies and approaches that can work well to overcome these issues.

Regarding whether you should seek help; it seems that you would already know what you need to do in order to reduce your isolation and feel more comfortable around friends (being pro-active in reaching out, joining activities with other students outside your curriculum etc.), but you’re struggling to manage your social anxiety enough to do this. To get a clearer picture of what is going on for you, and better assess the anxiety and mood difficulties you are describing, it may be beneficial for you to speak to a counsellor or psychologist. Feel free to connect with Counselling and Psychological Services to book an appointment.

If you would like some further information about social anxiety, you may be interested in having a look at some online resources.

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