• Welcome! It’s great to see you. Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

    If you'd like to talk with people who know what it's like

social anxiety and work



New member
Mar 10, 2015
Over the past year, I've become more and more anxious at work. It's easily the best job I've had and I enjoy what I do. The problem is being around other people for so long every day. I work in a team environment with the same group every day and as long as we're focusing on tasks, I'm fine. But any time we're standing around and chatting--one-on-one or in a group--I want to run away as fast as possible.

It's not that they're bad people or doing anything wrong. It's simply that my mental and physical discomfort exhaust me to the point that I struggle with the face time. The closer I've gotten to my coworkers, the more standoffish I've become. I don't feel any kind of attachment. I can't keep eye contact. I've even noticed that I don't care much about anything they're saying, no matter what it is. And I hate that. I feel like such a horrible person after coming to that realization.

All of this makes a lot of sense considering my past. I'm the only child of divorced parents and I moved frequently through my upbringing. I went to a new school almost every year. I've lived in four different states and more towns than I can remember. Every time I made friends, I was ripped away from them and didn't develop the social skills for long-distance friendship. Maybe I learned to leave people behind because it protects me from the pain of missing them the way I still miss my dad.

Now I'm finding that I'm still in that arm's length mentality because I'm yet again in a situation where I'm poised to move on in about a year's time. Perhaps my latest defense mechanism is to avoid that attachment altogether.

But, really, if I can just find some way to get past the physical and mental exhaustion, I could at least fake it well enough so I don't hurt anyone's feelings any more than I already have.


Well-known member
Jul 12, 2012
My suggestion to you would be to try to focus on one person at a time.

Avoid the group situations for now, and instead, invite someone you sort of like (or at the very least, don't mind the company of) to go to lunch with you some time. If lunch is a bridge too far, just ask them to go have a coffee or water (depending on whether there's a coffee machine or just a water cooler at work). Try to get to know that person a little better, one ten-minute conversation at a time.

The fact that there's only one other person there to focus on should spare you some of the mental and physical exhaustion. And once you know at least one of your colleagues a little better, it will be easier to be in a group when that person is there. You can use them as a "bridge" between you and the others, if you'd like. Or alternatively, you could get to know a few more colleagues in the same "one at a time" fashion. With every person that you know a little better (and who knows you!), you'll feel more at ease.

I understand that you may be avoiding any kind of attachment because you'll be moving on at some point, but guess what: unless you marry or move in with someone, that's the nature of all relationships. And as you know, being a child of divorced parents, even romantic partners don't always stick together forever. That's life. Is it painful when you have to say goodbye to someone you've come to know and appreciate? Of course it is. But is avoiding that pain worth never having any friends, and always feeling awkward and supremely uncomfortable in social situations? I say no. How about you?