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Sudden Social Anxiety?

From the U.S.: I’ve noticed that I’m starting to dread going to work because I know I will have to deal with customers that come through self-checkout. I considered myself to be a people person and fairly outgoing for a while now, but recently I’m starting to avoid people and wanting to spend more time alone. Also, I’m starting to second guess myself when I interact with people; often I will find myself wondering if I said too much, too little, offended someone, or bored someone. I’m starting to become agitated when I go into work and often I’m hoping one of my managers will send to break or lunch early, just to get away from all the people coming through self-checkout.

Sometimes when the store starts to get busy, I start to become tense and uncomfortable. When I get off work, I will have times where I don’t anyone touching me or being near me, or I will be so exhausted I want to do nothing more than sleep or be lazy. I’m wondering if by working with people, and having to interact with them on a constant basis, I’m starting to develop social anxiety. Can you develop social anxiety by working with the public when you haven’t had it before?

A: I’m reluctant to call this social anxiety. Not everyone has the energy and emotional strength to deal with the public all day long. A checkout line is hectic, with each person expecting you to be pleasant, accurate and speedy. It can be exhausting. It may just be that the social demands of your job are wearing you out. You therefore have nothing left at the end of the day.

Before deciding there is something wrong with you, please consider that it may be that there is something wrong with the “fit” of the job for your temperament. Look around for a job that is a little less socially demanding (or at least a little less relentless) and see how it goes.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

from Ask the Therapist


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