By the time teens reach young adulthood, their beliefs about relationships and the way they interact with others feel ingrained. For someone who has struggled with maintaining friendships or being bullied throughout adolescence, it may feel impossible to overcome social anxiety as a young adult. They may internalize that social anxiety is part of their personality, rather than an issue that can be managed. However, positive, healthy relationships are essential for getting through this transitional period of one’s life. Transitional living programs offer a built-in support system for teens with social anxiety who are working on developing meaningful relationships.
Social Anxiety Creates Real Obstacles
Many people associate social anxiety with being shy or reluctant to meet new people. However, many people with social anxiety continue to experience social anxiety around their close friends, which makes it more difficult for them to open up and trust others completely. Social anxiety refers to a physiological response of stress and discomfort around others, not just obsessive thoughts about rejection and how one is perceived.
Social anxiety can feel like a Catch-22. While young adults recognize that socializing more may reduce their feelings of loneliness, they may actually be more uncomfortable in social situations. This can affect not only close friendships and romantic relationships, but also everyday interactions with coworkers or the barista at the coffee shop. It is common for young adults with social anxiety to be hesitant about going out in public alone or reaching out for support. However, social support can be one of the most effective buffers against social anxiety.
Making Friends in Young Adulthood
A study by both Oxford University and Aalto University found that the number of friendships people tend to maintain begins to decline in one’s 20’s. This is particularly true for women, who invest more effort than men in finding and maintaining friends that meet the best friend ideal and let go of others that they value less.
Young adults not only become busier, but they also become more aware and afraid of rejection, usually based on past experiences. This is part of what makes seeing the potential for new friendships so difficult. change your thinking and stop worrying about being rejected. Most people are similar in that they would like to create additional friendships. Initiating conversations and showing interest in someone’s thoughts, opinions, and well-being will be met with reciprocal behavior more often than not. And this can become the beginning of a friendship.
Bonding Over Similar Interests
Through adolescence, proximity is one of the primary reasons teens develop relationships with others. As people begin to take their own paths in young adulthood, social media may help young adults maintain contact with friends. Sometimes, young adults may recognize through this process of separation that they may not have very much in common with the friends they used to have beyond shared memories. During this period of their lives, young adults have the opportunity to explore their interests and evaluate the qualities that they value in relationships. Rather than feeling the need to look for approval from all of their peers, they begin to seek out relationships with people who share similar values, which helps reduce social anxiety.
Supporting Each Other’s Shared Goals
In a transitional living environment, teens learn that support can be expressed in a lot of different ways. Some relationships are based on shared interests in activities, while others are based on emotional support. As girls and assigned female at birth explore their personal goals, they become better at expressing what they may need in relationships to others–even if that means alone time or listening rather than giving advice. Being able to advocate for oneself with others and receiving consistent support from peers helps young adults overcome their fear of rejection that underlies social anxiety.
Journey Home Can Help
Journey Home is a small residential treatment program for girls and assigned female at birth 16 – 21 years old. This is a program enforces a community-based treatment option for young girls and assigned female at birth. It is specifically designed for residents who have successfully completed a therapeutic treatment program but may need more help in transitioning back home. Journey Home West focuses on healthy living, education, responsibilities, and social integration as key components of the program. Young people leave this program feeling empowered, happy, and healthy.
For more information about social anxiety in young adults, contact us at (801) 444-0794. We can help today!