The Life and Times of the Socially Anxious

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Story By: Lily Patterson

You’re at a party. You’re laughing, probably holding a cup of something, or using those hands to wave high in the air, dancing, or grabbing a friend around the shoulders, drawing them into a tight hug. You’re physically there, your feet are firmly planted on the ground,your face branded with a wide grin, elastically stretching and contracting to produce laughs and words. But you feel entirely absent, as though you’re plastered to the ceiling, looking down on your autonomous body down below.

On the surface, anxiety disorders, but specifically, social anxiety disorder, work quietly and maliciously. They’re specters, just like many mental health issues. Social anxiety is not to be confused with shyness, or being a homebody, or even being a so-called introvert. Of course, these qualities can inform and reinforce social anxiety, but they are not one in the same. And, surprise, surprise – although you might have guessed due to this article’s publication in Iris, a female-centric publication – anxiety affects women disproportionately. From adolescence to late middle age, women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder as men.

Social anxiety involves excessive, deep-seated fears and compulsive behaviors stemming from one’s relationship and interactions with other people. Cases can range from mild to severe, and resulting thought patterns, emotional and behavioral responses can similarly figure across a broad spectrum. Someone with social anxiety might be entirely avoidant of all social situations and interpersonal relationships. Or, they might experience mental compulsions, forcing them to take part in all social activities possible, and to concede any and all demands, requests, and opinions of others for fear of ostracization. And these are just two paths this breed of anxiety can take.

Here’s a scenario to help explicate: imagine you’re walking out of the library. You pass a friend, who’s walking through the doors, mid-conversation with someone else. You say “Hey, how’re you?” and they look back, caught off-guard, and respond with “Oh, hey Lily,” and continue to walk. What’s your assumption? Likely, that they were busy chatting with their friend, and, moreover, happened to be walking through the door to the library next to another person, which is an awkward maneuver in itself. Easy enough, right?


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How Art Can Save the World

Story By: Taylor Lamb

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Anti-Trump protest which took place in Las Vegas. Photo from Las Vegas Review Journal.

If you have read any of my articles before this point, you can probably guess my political views and, subsequently, how I reacted to the results of the recent election. I was hurt, confused, angry, scared… I felt betrayed. I felt as though my country had let me down. I skipped one of my classes because I couldn’t bring myself to face a lecture full of people who aren’t affected by the results in the way that I am, as a black woman. I couldn’t bring myself to face a lecture full of people who were possibly happy with the results. I wasn’t in a good place. Many people felt the same way. I had conversations with people wondering: What do we do? Do we cry? Do we fight? Protest? I had people tell me that they wanted to do something to impact the world, but they weren’t sure what. There are a variety of things one can do to improve the world, and I definitely can’t impose my views on anyone else. But if you’re looking for something that will change the world as well as something to find solace in, here’s my suggestion: create art. 

That probably wasn’t what you were expecting. Art is definitely devalued by society, and I might say this is even more true at UVA. Art majors are looked down upon. If you have a high GPA, but you’re not a STEM major or in the Comm School, people say it doesn’t mean anything. And here I am saying that art will change the world. Those might not add up in your mind, but this is not a new opinion I am introducing. I myself did not know this until college. Perhaps it is the world’s best kept secret, but art is the soul of the revolution. Look to your major movements, look to the leaders of the movements, and they will say the same. Throughout history, marginalized people have used art to express themselves, to inspire people, and to improve the world. I’m talking all types of art–literature, music, paintings, sketches, theatre, etc.


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The Wing

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Credit: Edith Young for Architectural Digest (http://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/audrey-gelman-the-wing-women-only-new-york-social-club)

Story By: Lilly Patterson

This October, a new kind of clubhouse opened on New York’s East 20th Street. The space offers up a cafe and comfortable workspaces; a meticulously curated library; a locker room (more aptly named a ‘beauty room’) that defies its sweat and grime-ridden namesake; and most important, the buzzing of women intent on redefining the world both around and far beyond them.

The Wing – co-founded by former PR powerhouse Audrey Gelman and business development maven Lauren Kassan – provides a home base for women on the up-and-up to collaborate, communicate, and forge friendships and alliances. Members include actress and writer Lena Dunham, rapper Remy Ma, J.Crew president Jenna Lyons, and Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine, among many other notables. Though the concept is inspired by women’s clubs of the early 1900s, it’s clear there is nothing antiquated about the necessity of this sort of female coalition to combat the male-centric world outside its doors. Here I pose a few questions to Audrey and artistically-inclined member, Edith Young. We discussed their college-to-real-world trajectory, what membership and leadership at The Wing means to them, and their advice for all young women, no matter the path they’re on.

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Credit: Edith Young for Observer (http://observer.com/2016/10/audrey-gelman-is-reviving-the-old-fashioned-concept-of-womens-clubs/)


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Right Now

Story By: Pinky Hossain

Right now, being a Muslim woman is hard. Right now, Muslim women have every right to be angry. Right now, Muslim women are tired of white people telling them it’s going to be okay. Right now, Muslim women are completely and utterly over people telling them that they were overreacting about the election when they said they felt that their safety in America was compromised, especially when this:

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this:

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and this:

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is happening, among so many other hateful actions.


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Social Drinking: What’s so social about it?

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Story By: Madeline Baker

We all know UVA’s unofficial motto: Work Hard, Play Hard. I applaud anyone who can balance a rigorous academic and extracurricular schedule with an impressive social calendar. I struggled with this balance my first year at UVA. My first semester wasn’t much different from any typical college freshman’s: I was free to do whatever I wanted on the weekends and I took full advantage of my social independence. Taking shots of cheap vodka in my dorm room before hitting the Corner was a staple of my Friday night. After several weekends filled with random frat parties and nights spent on the Trin dance floor, I came to the realization that I wasn’t actually having fun, I was just pretty drunk and doing what everyone else was doing.

I hated feeling like I didn’t belong in my environment. I drank to feel normal and part of the culture, but this only made me feel burnt out and alone. The motivation I had at the beginning of the semester quickly dwindled. I had lost interest in my schoolwork, as it seemed the only reward for a stressful week of tests and papers was another night spent drinking.  I thought this was what my college experience was supposed to be about: staying out late and drinking with friends. It was what I considered to be social. It was how I fit in with everybody else and how I “bonded” with my hallmates from my dorm. I wasn’t sure if I was the only one feeling this way, but it seemed like everyone else was having a great time. I couldn’t understand why everyone looked so natural in this part-hard environment, and I felt so completely out of touch. I drank in high school, but not to the extent I was drinking in college. First year was my first experience with head-pounding hangovers and gut- wrenching nausea. I didn’t know if I could keep this up every weekend, but so long as my friends were doing it, I sucked it up and continued to drink.


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