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Still Shy At Your Age? I Don't Believe It!

Posted 8th March 2015 at 14:06 by indigo777

Why is it that the social anxiety forums are so youth orientated? One female poster said she felt too old at 30 to use the forum and it often feels like I am entering a student forum and feel embarrassed mentioning my age. Not surprising when there is special sub-forum for the over 30's. Itís the same on blogs or facebook groups with social anxiety being almost always spoken to as if from the point of view of a teenager or someone in their early twenties. Yet there are many people aged 40+ with serious anxiety problems who occasionally comment on the forums. They donít often stay around long or post much though. Perhaps they also feel like they donít fit in or perhaps their chronic social anxiety changes to a more general anxiety as they get older. Although I can speak much better to people one to one I also now have paranoia, depression and a whole host of other anxiety related problems for instance. Even though many people claim age has no relevance itís clear from past experiences that most people relate best to people their own age and also ignore you once they realise that you are more than about 5 years older than them. Some even seem shocked as if they just assume that no one at all uses the internet past about 35 years of age.

Is this age obsession more to do with cultural rather than any scientific reasons I wonder. Is it something to do with shame and guilt? The notion that we are supposed to simply grow out of shyness by a certain age and that it is only acceptable behaviour for children or young people? If we donít grow out of it by adulthood itís our own fault for simple not doing enough and we should be ashamed? Perhaps itís also the assumption that shyness and social anxiety are exactly the same when one is considerably worse than the other. Despite ideas about gender differences being very unpopular and the obsession with equality I also think that shy men are much more unacceptable in our society than females. Perhaps due to past cultural behaviour whereas men were expected to be brave, confident and more assertive and always make the first move. You read about blushing young women all the time in literature but almost never young men and confidence in men is seen as a key attractive quality by females on dating sites.

If you look at depression itís far more widespread between ages. There are loads of depressed people over 40 and even into old age who suffer serious depression and lots more of them that use the internet without any embarrassment of their age. This has also been seen historically and rather ignorantly as a sign of weakness but now itís seen as a major illness that can affect almost anyone and of any age. Perhaps because of more public awareness itís not got quite the stigma it once did. That cannot be said for social anxiety however which is still virtually unknown by the general public and still seen as simply shyness which you will grow out of with a little effort. I imagine there must be loads of older people who although not as shy as they once were they are still racked with other forms of general anxiety and stress. However they just learn to cope and plod on.
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  1. Old Comment
    Belinda's Avatar
    Interesting blog- I'm in my 40s too and I have similar feelings. I remember when I was young though I used to really hate the way people used to trivialise my 'shyness' as 'something you'll grow out of' so at least now I'm a bit past my peak (did I ever have a peak?) people can't patronise me quite as much!

    The only bit I disagree on is that SA is more acceptable in women- I always felt really disliked and rejected for blushing, talking in a whisper, looking timid and all that business. I don't think that I've ever really felt as if anyone saw it as appealing because I was female. Maybe being a bit bashful is more acceptable in women but full on social anxiety seems to be seen as pretty unacceptable in both sexes?
    Posted 8th March 2015 at 20:24 by Belinda Belinda is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Yes, any gender issues are always contentious and often only lead to futile arguments about who has it worse. Its just that I have read books and seen TV programs where young women giggled and blushed and this was seen as attractive but not the other way around. However this is almost always in relation to fancying someone and not full blown SA which affects friendships and everyday life as well.
    Posted 8th March 2015 at 21:07 by indigo777 indigo777 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Belinda's Avatar
    ^ Yes, I suppose giggling and blushing is seen as OK flirtatious behaviour in girls but not boys. My reaction is more to blush and look absolutely petrified which unfortunately is not particularly appealing!
    Posted 8th March 2015 at 21:35 by Belinda Belinda is offline

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