Book Blogging and Social Anxiety

“There was a boy in her room.”

First line in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Hi, guys. I’ve been meaning to write a post about social anxiety for a while because it’s something that has a great impact on my life. Occasionally, I’ve mentioned that I suffer from it here on my blog, but I’ve never really gone into much detail. Not that I’m going to spill all the detail of my personal life in this post, but I want to let you know how it affects the way I do book blogging. I also really want to start a conversation about this because it’s something so many people suffer from, even if they don’t know about it. It’s going to be a long one, so settle in.

What is social anxiety?

The short definition of social anxiety (also called social phobia) is a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations. It’s natural for people to worry about a social situation once in a while, but for people with social anxiety, it turns into an intense fear/worry both before, during, and after a social event.

Some signs that may indicate that you have social anxiety:

  • You worry about everyday activities, such as meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working or shopping.
  • You avoid or worry a lot about social activities, such as group conversations, eating with company and parties.
  • You always worry about doing something you think is embarrassing, such as blushing, sweating or appearing incompetent.
  • You find it difficult to do things when others are watching. You may feel like you’re being watched and judged all the time.
  • You fear being criticized, avoid eye contact or have low self-esteem.
  • You often have symptoms like feeling sick, sweating, trembling or a pounding heartbeat.
  • You have panic attacks, where you have an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety, usually only for a few minutes.

I’ve taken this list from the NHS, and they have a lot more information if you’re interested.

How do I combine anxiety and blogging?

After reading the symptoms above, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that many people with social anxiety instinctively want to hide in a hole somewhere and never interact with anyone. It’s just easier sometimes. Nevertheless, we’re still human, so we still need social interaction to not go crazy or slip into depression. Too much interaction, though, and there’s also a depression waiting for you. Thanks, universe.

All of this meant that when I started my blog, I had spent a lot of time thinking about my expectations, what I wanted from it, how much I wanted to give. I had to realize how my anxiety might limit me and then accept that. Without accepting it, I couldn’t then later start working on it and push my limits. And that’s the important part! Social anxiety is something you can work on, but not all at once. It was a big step for me to even start this blog because it goes against every instinct I have to draw attention to myself. But then, when I somehow didn’t die, I got the courage to push those other limits. Here’s a list of some of the things I had to work on:

  • Answering comments on my own posts without having to worry about it for several hours.
  • Invading other people’s spaces and interacting with literal strangers. The whole point of creating a blog was to talk about books with other people.
  • Tagging authors in positive reviews on Twitter.
  • Be active on Twitter in general.
  • Entering/hosting giveaways. Winning a giveaway means interaction with the host and that’s a high risk. Hosting a giveaway means interaction is a certainty.
  • Any interaction with authors whether it be for review requests, interviews etc.
  • Participate in blog tours and review ARCs because those get a lot of attention.

With these limitations, I was very aware of the fact that I wasn’t going to be an immensely popular book blogger, but I accepted that. I’m still working on a lot of these, but there are also some I’ve scratched from the list such as blog tours and ARCs after learning I had zero interest in those. For the things I’m still working on, there are ups and downs, and I thought I would give you a few examples of what I’ve experienced.

In case you’re new to my blog, I should tell you that I love discussions, and the prospect of a good discussion is one of the things that can draw me out of my shell. So when a popular BookTuber posted a video in which she claimed (several times) that she wanted to discuss different aspects in the comment section, I couldn’t resist. You should also know that I’m one of those people who, if I don’t have a strong opinion on a topic, will naturally argue the opposite because I believe that to be beneficial for everyone. That… can be dangerous, as I learned that day of the BookTube video. You see, I decided to comment on that video with what I thought was a kind response that, however, disagreed with her. To my own big surprise, she actually answered me, and that’s when I learned that she didn’t want a discussion as she had claimed. She just wanted to be confirmed in her own opinion by her followers, and I hadn’t delivered on that. I also learned that I had stumbled upon a nest of cancel culture people, and they just seem to be allergic to respectful conversations or something. The short version is that it got pretty ugly, and I had to delete the comment to keep my sanity. But I still felt awful for weeks and didn’t sleep at all the night afterward. It was a step backward for me in terms of commenting on other blogs/videos, and even though this happened seven months ago, I’m still not back to commenting on strangers’ posts.

On a more positive note, I made progress on getting over my fear of entering giveaways last year. I saw one on Twitter for a book that I really wanted, and I knew I was going to buy it anyway, so I held my breath and entered because you never win these things anyway.
Well, I did win. And freaked out.
The giveaway was hosted by the author himself, and he said just to DM him with my details. Now, I don’t know who would just casually DM one of their favorite authors and just be cool about it, but let me tell you, you don’t want that added anxiety I experienced in that situation. However, when I finally responded, everything was fine. I didn’t die, and more importantly, I didn’t embarrass myself (yes, that is more important). I will probably still be scared if it were to happen again (unlikely), but hopefully less than this first time, and that’s one way you can work on social anxiety. Getting to know new social situations and steadily becoming more and more familiar with them, so that you can feel in control. This might lead to me one day getting the courage to host a giveaway because that’s something I really want to do.

Now, I think I’ve rambled on for long enough, but before I leave you, I thought I would give you some book recommendations, in case you’re interested in reading about anxiety in fiction. My own favorite is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which does a really good job of describing that fear and how it all works. It definitely helped me put my feelings into words. Another book recommendation is Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. This one focuses a lot on anxiety’s consequences on one’s life but also shows how to treat the condition. Lastly, we have Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, which portrays how constraining social anxiety can be. It’s about these limitations I was talking about and how you push them to live the life you want.
These are all Young Adult because I’ve never come across social anxiety rep in Adult fiction, but if you know of any, please leave them in the comment section below.

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for months, and I always thought of it as that post I’m going to put up when I have nothing else. I tried to make it helpful, but it’s just as much a post I had to do to get something off my chest. So please remember that I’m no healthcare professional, and that my experiences might not be the same as everyone else’s. So stay safe and happy reading.

16 thoughts on “Book Blogging and Social Anxiety

  1. Thank you so much for writing this post. I also have social anxiety although I have it pretty much under control when it comes to bookblogging. In real life though, it’s another matter.
    I love hearing other people’s experiences because it makes me feel less alone when facing these difficulties.
    I also wanted to say that I’m so happy for you and so proud of the steps you’ve taken.
    Every time I write a wrap-up on my blog I include posts from blogs that I really appreciated, linking back and giving credit, would you mind if I featured your post? It’s totally optional and I would not feel bad if you said no, I would never want to do that if it added any preassure on yourself.

    Loved the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me that you loved this post and that it made you feel less alone. That’s really all I wanted with this post.

      And it’s very considerate of you to ask before linking to my post, so thank you. I’m cool about that part of blogging, so I’d only be honored to be featured in your wrap-up post.

      Thank you so much for such a lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Line, I think this post might be one of your best yet! I love it almost as much as the Lost in Translations (nothing will ever quite top those 😊) because so many things you say here are so relatable. So I’m very glad you didn’t let it waste away in your drafts folder!

    The pounding fear and over-preparation when I have to make phone calls, the uncomfortableness when I’m in a group of new people, the constant feeling that others are judging me, the overthinking of what other people said to me – I definitely relate. Although I’ve never really considered myself to have severe social anxiety because those things aren’t absolutely crippling for me, like the way I’ve heard some people describe it. I do eventually relax in large groups and am more at ease once I get to know people, and the only things that really make me panic are the phone calls πŸ˜… So I can only imagine how awful it must be to constantly have to deal with all of the symptoms you mentioned in their fully fledged form…

    And what you said about your blogging fears hit a bull’s eye. I mean, it took me over three years to unprivate my blog because I was so scared of other people reading it. And quite a few of my real-life friends don’t even know it exists because I felt so awkward about telling them (and now I feel even more awkward because I kept it secret for so long πŸ™ˆ). I don’t even have twitter because I don’t like the thought of having to invest energy into even more social media, especially when I’m always hearing things about how brutal book twitter can be πŸ˜… I’ve never commented on a single YouTube video, even though there are BookTubers I’ve been watching for years now, and some whom I even know personally. YouTube is such a big platform that it genuinely scares me, so I am completely in awe that you actually commented on something there! Though I’m very sorry you had such a bad experience.

    And yes, I also usually reply to my own comments quite a bit later than I read them πŸ˜… I may or may not also have done that with yours πŸ™ˆ(Sorry!) But I just don’t want the pressure of constantly seeming available, and I also feel like if I reply to one of them, I have to reply to all of them immediately, because otherwise people might see that I replied to someone else and not them and then feel like I don’t value them as much. And of course, all replies need to be as perfect as possible! So stupid, I know πŸ˜…πŸ™ˆ But I hope it makes you feel less alone!

    Anyway – thanks for this post! As you can probably tell by this monstrous comment, you really gave me a lot to reflect on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the longest comment I have ever seen! πŸ˜‚

      It means a lot to me that you liked it so much ❀️ I’ve been so nervous about posting it, but seeing that it has an impact on other people really makes it worth it.
      Social anxiety comes in so many different forms and not everyone has it to the same degree, so many can easily live with it. Although, your phone call situation sounds very relatable. I hate when I’m not allowed to write an e-mail instead. And I’m glad you’re able to relax in large groups after a while. I don’t do that, ever. In comparison, we’re a group who went to high school together (so 10 years ago). We still see each other, but I’m never relaxed when I’m with them.

      And yes, my real-life friends aren’t allowed to read my blog either! My two closest friends know that it exists, but I haven’t told them the name of it, and I live in constant fear of them or anyone else in my life finding out. But I understand not wanting to pour energy into more social media platforms. I think that’s also my problem. I simply don’t have to energy when I’ve answered comments on my own posts and left some on others’. To then go on other platforms… no. My YouTube comments are also very rare, but the good thing is that people usually never respond (except that one time), so it almost feels like a “free comment” if that makes sense. I have stuff I want to say, so I do that and that’s it. Nothing is free on Twitter, though, so I completely understand not wanting to invest time and energy on that. It’s a horrible place, but I get so many ideas for discussion topics from it πŸ˜…

      Replying to comments long after I read them? That’s the only way I answer comments πŸ˜… So no need to apologize! I do it for the exact same reasons, but also because I just need to mull it over a bit, you know.

      Thank you so much for this delightfully long comment πŸ˜„

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you thought that comment was delightfully rather than annoyingly long πŸ˜‚

        Yes, writing e-mails is so much better than having to make phone calls! Although I agonize over the e-mails, too, and proofread them about fifty times before I can convince myself to hit “send”. But I’ll still take them over phone calls any day!

        Also, I’m really relieved to see someone else not tell their friends about their blog – I just thought I might be really weird like that. I don’t even know what scares me so much about it, but somehow the thought of telling them is paralyzing… Or them finding it themselves and reading a ton of personal stuff on it that I haven’t told them πŸ™ˆ

        But I’m glad you managed to overcome your fears a bit, and that giveaway story sounds so cool! Even though it must have been nerve-wracking, DMing and actual author seems like an amazing experience!

        Also, I forgot to mention this in my first comment, but I’m so happy you included Fangirl and Eliza and her Monsters in your post! It really makes me want to read Queens of Geek, because if it’s anything like the other two, I’m sure I’m going to love it! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. About not telling my friends… I think I started out by feeling that I could write more freely by not telling them instead of always wondering what people who knew me would say if I somehow acted a little differently. I think I’m more comfortable in writing and may show other sides to myself here compared to real life (if that made sense to you, I’m impressed πŸ˜‚)

        It was a crazy experience to DM an actual author! He was fascinated with my name because it’s so weird for English speakers. He thought it was made-up, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that πŸ˜…

        And yes, I did include Queens of Geek in the post, but it doesn’t exactly live up to the quality of the other two in my opinion. I included it because the social anxiety rep is amazing. The rest of it was more mediocre to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Same! That’s exactly how I feel about the telling friends part! Which is why I actually have a much easier time telling people I DON’T know that well about my blog… Only one of my really close friends knew about it from the get-go, but the nice thing is that she doesn’t really like to read in English that much, so she only looks at my posts very sporadically and asks me to summarize my reading experiences for her in German instead. So knowing that, telling her wasn’t too bad, either πŸ˜‚

        And that’s so funny 😁 Line is actually a pretty common name here as well, so I never once thought it was strange… But I already appreciate this author’s fascination with different languages!!

        And good to know! Although I still think that sounds really interesting, so maybe I’ll give it a go eventually 😊 Once I’ve read those twelve unread novels I’ve still got left at home, the Farseer trilogy, Way of Kings, Drowned Country and all those other wonderful books I keep stumbling across here, probably πŸ˜…πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a great post. I’m starting to realize that I may have a serious anxiety problem, so reading this was helpful in a lot of ways. I also can relate to the blogging fears. I still don’t feel comfortable sharing it with my friends or family, and posting on social media is beyond stressful. But I’m working on being more open and interacting with the community here, which was why I started my blog to begin with. I’m grateful you decided to post this, thank you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I posted a comment earlier, but it’s not showing up so sorry if it comes off like I’m spamming.

    I’m still coming to terms with my anxiety problems, so thank you for posting this. It feels good to know that I’m not the only one who feels like this on a regular basis. I also can relate to the fears that come with blogging. I started my blog for similar reasons–I don’t have anyone among my friends to geek out with over books, so this is my attempt at being more social. And I’m sorry to hear about that experience with the Booktuber. It’s a damn shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to manually approve the comment when someone new comments on my blog, and I’ve done that now so it should visible 😊

      I’m so glad you found my post helpful! And I think it’s great to hear how you’re working through your fears. Starting a blog helped me a lot, so I think that’s a great step you’ve taken even though it has its challenges.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for writing this extremely relatable post!

    Social anxiety is such a weird, uncomfortable thing to be living with. Just existing in social situations is exhausting for me. I have to practice everything, from making a phone call to going to a store to talking to a stranger, keeping in mind all the possible answers and situations I might get. I can’t even be myself comfortably in big groups where I know and have a good relationship with everyone. Maintaining friendships is a hardship. I don’t talk to people unless they address me first and sometimes not even then. But, I’m working on it and, as you said, it takes time and a lot of effort.

    Same with you, it was a big step for me to put myself out there and start blogging and it takes pushing my limits a bit further every day in order to exist in the community the way I want to. Leaving comments on other people’s blogs is something I still struggle with, and I take a considerable amount of time overthinking even how to reply on comments on my own posts. Somehow it’s easier to be present online than it is in real life, as long as no one in said real life knows about that online presence. We can’t let people know we have interests, right?

    I’m so sorry you had that horrible experience with that booktuber. Why would they ask for discussion when they didn’t actually want to discuss anything? Why are people like that? I must tell you, though, you are much braver than I am; I would’ve completely disappeared from the internet after thatπŸ˜…. And congrats on overcoming the fear of participating in giveaways! Everything gets easier once we make that big scary first step!

    And thank you for the book recommendations! I’ll definitely check them out. The closest I’ve come to encountering a socially anxious character in fiction is Mr. Fitzwilliam “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before” Darcy πŸ˜‚.

    Anyway, thanks again for writing this, it’s always great to find people with similar experiences! Sorry for all the rambling πŸ˜….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And thank you for this extremely relatable comment! I’m guessing it wasn’t the easiest thing to write such a long comment, but I appreciate it so much!

      I also have such a hard time maintaining friendships, so I get where you’re coming from. The few close friends I have are the people who have insisted on being a part of my life, no matter how distant I become. But you’re right that being online is easier, and sometimes that’s just because you get to spend those 3 hours thinking about an answer to someone. Even when that answer turns out be: “I hope you like the book” πŸ˜…. And no, we can’t let people know we have interests. That would make people able to judge those interests as wrong, so they must remain secret πŸ˜….

      I hope you end up liking the books if you read them. They definitely helped me a lot, so I’m always on the look-out for more, although I’m not sure if Mr. Darcy will be all that helpful πŸ˜‚.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. I loved all your rambling 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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