Reaching out to the loner

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    I’m sorry for my social anxiety

    Today one of my husbands closest friends got married at a hall a drives away from where we live. While I know the chosson, I haven’t met his kallah, or any of her friends. So I’m at this wedding and I know about 3 women – wives of other guys my husband is friendly with. When I say know, what I really mean is women I’ve met once or twice.

    Today I told my social anxiety to silence its numbing tune. I resolved to break my boundaries and get out of my comfort zone. I was sure I would just force myself to talk to these women that I barely know or have never met.

    But I’m writing this from the car in the wedding hall parking lot when I have taken refuge.

    My social anxiety has waged a war over me, and it’s never lost one battle.

    In my head and dreams I don’t struggle to be friendly and outgoing, I’m interested in other people, I easily introduce myself and acquaint myself with new people I encounter, I’m eager to share my thoughts and experiences with others. But when I step into a big room full of people everything I want be is overtaken by this awful part of me, this constant fear of rejection, this indescribable lack of self confidence. And all I want to do is get out.

    The truth is all I really want is to fit in, like anyone else. All I really want is to smile and be enjoyable to be around, but there’s something that’s stopping me, something big. And I wish I could just tell people “nice to meet u, I’m sorry if I seem off standing and awkward, I’m experiencing intense levels of anxiety right now while I worry about whether I’ll say something stupid or you won’t like me, but I really do want to talk to you and get to know you I think your really cool and my behavior doesn’t mean I don’t like you, it means I don’t rly like myself”

    But I don’t think that would go over well, or any better than my current method of awkward half smiles and clasping my hands to suppress my anxiety in a small way.

    I know this is my issue, and I can’t blame anyone for my lack of social skill, but I just wish someone, anyone, would reach out to me. Once I can move passed my anxiety I can be a normal person, in contrast to the stranger I introduce myself as. I wish, more than anyone will ever understand, that I could reach out to u and reciprocate, but I’m terrified.

    I remember when I met my best friend since high school. I had just moved to a new school and knew very few people. We were in a few Hebrew studies classes together and happened to sit next to one another. As my best friend describes it, she stalked me down until I opened up to her. She continued to say hello to the strange new girl who didn’t speak to anyone, she continued to reach out to me, and after a few days we were already on the path to the closest friendship I’ve ever had.

    She took the time to reach out to me because she somehow saw beyond my awkward existence and knew I was just incredibly shy. She changed my life.

    It’s probably not shocking to hear I don’t have many friends, but this girl opened up a social world for me, she helped me get to know the others and made my junior year of high school incredibly more tolerable.

    I’ve got way too much time to kill right now so I’ll stop myself before this turns into a novel. My point is, take the extra moment to reach out to the person standing alone on the side of the room, you could make his or her day, week, of even life time. It might sound crazy, but for someone who’s greatest struggle is connecting to others, it means so much to be reached out to. Please see past a persons anxious defenses, there’s a genuine individual somewhere in there.


    I hate when people approach me.


    Yeah same here but experience has taught me that hiding out in the car will only make your social anxiety worse! you can’t hide forever!


    Very well said. +1

    good luck at the wedding!

    I. M. Shluffin

    That was very poignant and so accurate for a lot more people than you may realize. I myself often find myself doing nothing on my phone just to pass the time at weddings where I know no one. You may not feel comfortable in social events where n>1 , but you undoubtedly thrive in more sparsely populated situations, e.g., home. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. But you obviously deeply desire that feeling of anxiety-free functioning at weddings, etc. I don’t know if you’re looking for suggestions, but if I would direct you to make conversation with any one person at a wedding, it would be that woman sitting at a table staring at her phone and looking just as ill-at-ease as you feel. Which is basically the advice you gave us.

    That friend of yours sounds so special. If only we could manufacture people like that in a factory.


    “Today one of my husbands closest friends got married”

    Just how many husbands do you have!


    I was not only an introvert but I sincerely hated being around people I remember once going to a Chanukah party where I knew a lot of people and chose to sit at a table by myself someone I knew from the next table over says come over here why sit alone I know his gesture was a sincere one but I refused.

    Back then I didn’t like myself so why should I imagine someone else will so it became a self fulfilling prophecy I wouldn’t give them the chance to reject me so I did it first, after going through therapy I became more comfortable in my own skin and started giving people a chance to see the real me now I am totally opposite I am never afraid of a social situation and I am often the life of the party.

    Now I am not suggesting you need therapy or suffer from low self esteem but you have to like who you are and then you will allow others to like you.


    @cherry ‘ here is an apostrophe for the grammar police, I’m sure you can figure out where it belongs. Hopefully if your sharp enough to make that comment, the real message of my post wasn’t lost on you.

    @shluffin thank you for your kind words, that is exactly how I feel. Once I’m comfortable I’m actually the most outgoing in the room, it’s just so hard for me to get to that place. And agreed, I wouldn’t survive any social functions without my phone!

    @groq valid points, and it’s okay to suggest I do, I know I do. I majored in psychology, and went to therapy for many years, I believe everyone could benefit from therapy. And I ageee that it stems from a place of insecurity, as I mentioned in the post. Sometimes it’s hard to love yourself, it’s a work in progress for me.


    I remember walking into a wedding with a friend, the one who was popular, confident, got all the right jobs in school, and of course a top name in shidduchim when she told me “I hate these social events. People think I love them but I don’t.” Maybe you can ask for the pickles/soda, compliment someone in a nice top, or come up with another ice breaker scenario you can keep up your sleeve, and then discuss how you know the chosson/kallah. You are definitely not alone though.

    Btw, you write very well.


    Quite honestly, weddings are so loud I find it difficult to carry on a conversation anyway. So I don’t mind sitting there in silence. I think the OP is making too much of this at a wedding. I could see maybe in other settings it’s more fo a concern. Having said all that, I tend not to stay past chupah anyway.

    One final word: Unsocial, you are assuming that no one else there has a similar issue? Maybe they are all waiting for someone to reach out first.


    Unsocial, I have family members who dealt with the same issues. I don’t have an MD and I’m not a psychiatrist, but you are describing an anxiety disorder and one way of treating that is with individual or group therapy; another, for some, is with medication. So, if as it seems this is causing you distress, see your doctor and go from there. I wish you all the best in finding a solution.




    unsocial: as i sift through the sand that is TYW in general and the coffee room in particular, every once in a while I come across a gem. Your post was one. enlightening and powerful. while hashem may have handcuffed you in one way, he’s given you a talent in a different way. maybe you can start there. write.

    moi aussi

    unsocial, the good news is that you are able to analyze your situation and you know what’s missing in your life. Furthermore, if you got married you can’ be such a hermit 😉

    I know a 19 year old guy in my family who is a “real” loner. He has no friends, doesn’t connect with his parents or siblings. He simply wants to be left alone (with his computer). His family has tried to reach out to him, but he is not receptive to anyone or anything. Bein Hazmanim he barely goes out of the house (just for davening). In Yeshiva, he has no chavrusas (his father pays someone to learn with him, but half the time he doesn’t show up). He wishes he could live on an island by himself where nobody would bother him, nobody would talk to him, nobody would offer him anything nor request anything from him.

    I wonder if he will ever marry…

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    I used to be very quiet – I think I was selective mute as a kid – and now I don’t stop talking, and I’m very outgoing. I don’t know how or why I changed exactly. I never had therapy or anything like that. It could be that I used to be quiet because we moved around so much that I never had a chance to be really comfortable anywhere and find people that I was comfortable with. And maybe that changed once I eventually found people who were like me and whom I could be myself with. Or maybe I just had poor verbal skills and they improved with age. I really don’t know.


    moi aussi -He wishes he could live on an island by himself where nobody would bother him, nobody would talk to him, nobody would offer him anything nor request anything from him.

    I wonder if he will ever marry…

    It seems he goes to minyan so that’s a start. It is not that hard to find an abandoned island. Give him a cell phone some food and a tent and leave him on the island for two weeks and see if he survives. Try to give him some independence such as letting him buy and cook his own food. I think part of the problem is that for most of his life people have dictated to him what he can do. He is rebelling and withdrawing inside. He may or may not also be depressed. His father needs to find a yeshiva that caters to this boy’s needs and make him happy. Once he is happy he will socialize. Once he socializes he will marry. You need to take it step by step.

    moi aussi

    Thank you Abba_S for your advice, you must be a therapist/psychologist.

    He goes to minyan like a robot. He wouldn’t need a cell phone on the island, his phone is rarely activated. Regarding food, he weighs 48kg (he’s 19), he eats to survive (no joy in eating). I wouldn’t say he’s depressed per se, maybe autistic traits…?

    Where does one find a Yeshiva Gedolah for such boys? Most specialized Yeshivos cater for younger kids.


    moi aussi I am not a therapist/psychologist and have no knowledge nor training in this field. The only reason I said to give him a phone is so you can contact him on the island, to verify that everything is okay.

    Has he been checked out by a doctor to verify that this problem is not caused by a chemical imbalance? Have you or anyone else spoken to Rabbium about a yeshiva that will cater to his needs. They know the boy and are better suited to find a yeshiva that will meet his special needs. His weighing 48 kg means he lives outside the US, and is 106 pounds, I was 125 ponds when I got married 34 years ago so he is not so underweight. I am now 185 lbs and the doctor wants me to lose weight so that is not a problem.

    Have you tried giving him ice cream. You may have a problem with choosing his favorite flavor. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like ice cream. This will put him in a happier mood and increase his weight. Also try to have him listen to happy music, this too will put him a happier mood. Try taking him to an amusement park, with exciting rides, this will show him how people interact while having fun and may awaken his social skills.

    Please check with your medical provider who knows the boy before taking my advise. Likewise you may also want to seek the advise of a Rabbi who knows the boy before following my advise.

    I hope it works but it is going to be a long process to get the boy to social interact so don’t give up hope.


    I read an interesting book that helped me get over my occasional social anxiety. It’s called Rejection Therapy by Jia Jiang.

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