Social Anxiety and Introvertedness


Blue Belt
I have this very weird blend of being introverted but terrified of being alone. Sometimes all I want in this world is to be left alone and sometimes I am utterly desperate for other people around. ts fun! In the last few years I've really developed anxiety issues, particularly with talking on the phone. I've even had my first full blown panic attacks not that long ago. I've found that having a calm place or activity is the best thing with anxiety gets too much, Hum a song, go for a walk, draw something. Just take your mine off of the worries for a bit. At least I find that helps me. When it comes to phonecalls I DEFINITELY use scripts. That's helped me a great deal.


4-Stripe White Belt
Hello, I am an introvert and have had GAD pretty much for as long as I can remember (though it got formally diagnosed when I was 16). I also have chronic depression and just had to take 3 months off work with stress/anxiety/depression 8)

My social anxiety used to be so bad that I couldn't go to the counter in strange shops. I absolutely HATE public speaking and being in big groups of people, and I recently found out I'm dyspraxic too which explains my ditziness/clumsiness (which makes me even more self-conscious).

I have been a lot better lately, and that's because I started saying 'fuck it' and telling myself that I do not remotely care if anyone thinks I'm awkward, frigid or weird, because they don't know what I've been through and if they decide to be arsey about it, that's their problem! So I tend to chat 'fuck it' to myself when the anxiety is playing up xD
Weirdly though, I've always been okay at cons. I get a little bit nervy, but I figure that I'm in a room full of other nerds, many of whom also have their own quirky idiosyncracies, so I feel a lot safer, even behind table. That said, chatting to people and trying to sell stuff all day does wear me out and I usually need at least a day of being a hermit and talking to no-one after the con is over :L

You didn't mention if you're getting help OP, but I will say that CBT helps me a lot. I've had it a few times as my anxiety likes to manifest in different ways once I control one aspect of it (for example I hardly ever have panic attacks anymore, but I do get dizzy and faint w/palpitations) - but it really helps to be reminded of coping mechanisms etc. There are some useful worksheets on this website which I've used in the past (the 'worry tree' and worry diaries are especially good) but I would recommend getting a referral to a counsellor if you are able to/haven't done so already. I only say this because I have refused help in the past and it was NOT FUN.

Don't pressure yourself to be "normal" though. There's nothing wrong with being an introvert!

In any case take care, be yourself and at least take comfort in the fact that there are many people in this thread who feel the same way as you. :)
Weirdly though, I've always been okay at cons. I get a little bit nervy, but I figure that I'm in a room full of other nerds, many of whom also have their own quirky idiosyncracies, so I feel a lot safer, even behind table. That said, chatting to people and trying to sell stuff all day does wear me out and I usually need at least a day of being a hermit and talking to no-one after the con is over :L
Yeah I wanted to know how it feels. I may go to some cons in Michigan before I sell myself at a con so I can get used to the noises and how people act at cons. Maybe best for me.

For everyone else: SORRY FOR IGNORING THIS TOPIC, LOL. Zelda got a hold of me. OTL. But it's nice to see so many people with similar issues to myself. Makes me feel better. ;;;w;;;


White Belt
I'm an anti-social type of introvert all the way, and I've never been diagnosed due to fear of talking about feels to anyone, but I'm sure I've got some issues. There's this intrusive blend of paranoia of people's characters, fear of communication and self-hate that I experience, which makes doing things on and offline difficult. I can answer questions, but extended, direct communication is near impossible. This can get a little depressing because I haven't trusted anyone enough to open up since high school.
The physical act of talking isn't my thing either, sometimes not even online since I know I'm not very educated/intelligent, I don't want people to see just how dumb I am. (Just stating a fact, not trying to get attention) Asking me to mentor or expecting a certain level of quality from me is beyond my mental capabilities. I will tap out.

Personally, I don't have the best way to deal with my problems. Most of the time I ignore them, other times taking small steps to ask a question helps with the paranoia... depending on how I'm answered. Exploring my experiences via the characters in my comic, sitting as the third party observer, has helped put things into perspective a bit.

When it comes to networking I don't see it as a huge problem? I'm not very good at it since exuding enthusiasm in general is hard, but at the same time it's not like I'm advertising myself. I don't mind being the faceless shadow in the back, pushing my comic into the spotlight.
This can be a bad thing, I guess? When talking about comics I have seen that most people like getting to know a bit about the creator, knowing who the are. But I'd rather just... lose those people, let them see me as a douche, than reveal my personality or personal stuff. Talking to readers isn't too bad, but responding to negativity is honestly easier than responding to praise. Yes, I'm weird. Lmao!
I've been kind of following this conversation for a while, and I guess I'll make some comments, and maybe return here at some point and make some more.

First of all, I am definitely an introvert. When procrastinating, I have often taken various different website's Myers-Briggs personality test. Anyway, I always come out as INTP. The 'I' stands for introverted. Some of this conversation almost seems to view introversion as a negative thing. What introversion really means is that some social and workplace environments may not be the best places for some people. Annoyingly, I've spent most of my working life in variants on the retail/customer service theme, and I really do think that such work can have bad effects on me, and leave me mentally exhausted. Introversion is not a bad thing; in the right context it is a great virtue.

So if introversion can really be a great virtue, here is why...
I will often seem aloof in a social situation, being quiet, and maybe like I'm not participating, paying attention, or even like I'm daydreaming... just when someone thinks that... BOOM! I may well drop something very witty in, as if from nowhere. I might even come at something from a very unusual perspective, leading people to think 'I hadn't thought of it that way'. If conversation falls to the level of Rugby club 'banter' I will either withdraw completely or even throw in some curveball non-sequiturs (I do love a good non-sequitur) to get the conversation to resemble the witty imaginary Radio 4 panel show I sometimes wish my life was more like.

OK, so life isn't always much, or at all like the above for me. Most of my interactions are done with a certain fear of... I don't quite know what. Some of it comes from the fact that I have become stuck in a series of bad jobs, and that so many jobs I get an interview for... well, it's so difficult to care, and so much harder to feign passion for whatever it is that the company does. Certainly, they don't really want me and my highly-overdeveloped Walter Mitty complex trying to re-invent the wheel all the time.

I know I'm not very educated/intelligent, I don't want people to see just how dumb I am.
Dani, from what you've said, I'm more inclined to think you're intelligent, but that having to bother with the triviality of interacting with people is something you just find annoying/exhausting/repetitive/pointless, maybe? Introverts are not 'dumb' - there are just different intelligences, different personalities. Certainly it takes creativity, organisation, dedication, imagination... and other things besides to make your own comic. You probably just have a fear of being (wrongly) seen that way. Certainly there are some people who take my aloof nature the wrong way, and either don't liked me for it, or think that I don't like them. It's very unusual for me to dislike anyone, because I will be playing Devil's advocate in my head and won't give up on that except in the most extreme cases.

As for interacting with readers:
My favourite author (Muriel Spark) wrote an autobiography almost out of obligation. She didn't really want to talk about herself, didn't see herself as relevant to her books... and she called her autobiography 'Curriculum Vitae' almost as if to say that it was to be an obligatory statement of some of the facts of her career. There's a whole way of looking at literature called 'the death of the author' that makes the point that a work that an author creates has a life of its own, that an author's opinion of their work, and there life story are not necessarily relevant to how the book is to be received.

I can't remember which Sherlock Holmes story it is in, but there's one where Holmes is locking himself away from the world, and complaining to Watson that all the cases being brought to him are so unworthy of him, that 'the game is not afoot'. Whilst I don't have the superiority complex that Holmes does, I can relate to that in some way.

Anyway, why are we all here? (I mean on this forum, as opposed to why is there something and not nothing... we can start a new thread to explore that if anyone wants to) We all like comics in some way (reading, discussing, writing, drawing etc). I'm sure most of the people on this forum are introverts, because we would all like to be immersed in someone else's imaginary world, or imagining and then rendering our own (if not both). If I wasn't an introvert I would probably have done something awful like been captain of whatever sports team the beautiful people are into [aside: the only sports club I've ever been a member of was a Lawn Bowls club. I was about 12. hahaha. oh dear.]

Having said all this, give me something I believe in, that has maybe originated with me, and I can do public speaking, with some style. Last month I tried some open mic poetry. The anxious bit really was when another poet tried to strike up a conversation about a line I'd said:
her: 'I really liked your T.S. Eliot reference!'
me: 'err... what T.S. Eliot reference?'
so she has to remind me. I remember. Awkward conversation comes to abrupt end, without me having the ability to articulate what I'd like about her poems.
(The 'big talk' of the poetry was fine - OK, I was running on nerves, and it was hardly the greatest performance ever, but I was much more comfortable with that than the small talk afterwards)

Someday I'll maybe share with you all the story of how I presented an original idea to a lecture theatre using a large painted canvas (but only if you're really good and eat all your greens). Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that if I get put to things that involve creativity and ideas and all that stuff and I can do all kinds of weird and wonderful things. Left wasting my talents in jobs I'm not suited for, you'll find me wanting to hide away from people, and not wanting to do much at all.

Anyway, I'm sure I've got mild issues with anxiety, but I'll maybe come back and delve into that some other time.

Until then... any of you write about these sorts of things in your webcomics? If not, maybe you should... it could serve as a form of therapy for yourselves, and maybe help your readers figure a few things out too....


White Belt
Dani, from what you've said, I'm more inclined to think you're intelligent, but that having to bother with the triviality of interacting with people is something you just find annoying/exhausting/repetitive/pointless, maybe?
Aw, thanks for the nice words. I'm not dumb because I'm an introvert, not too many people can find peace being physically alone. Those moments when you can turn on some chill music and draw, or watch something like Late Night Restaurant or Chef's Table in completely solitude, or going on a hike to a quite place is so nice. I'm dumb because I'm slow and my memory is bad, you can't tell on the net because I can take my time figuring out what to say, but it takes a good moment for words to form in my brain. Not just with saying words but with translating what other's say too (sometimes not translating them correctly), or it can take a little longer for my brain to signal for my body to do something. This is worse when I'm nervous, things may not even translate at all leaving me to forget really obvious stuff, or doing and saying the wrong thing.
On top of that I really should be further along than I am for my age. I work with student pilots every day who are younger than me and already have bachelors degrees, I just have my high school diploma.

Now I know other people may have a similar problem, I don't see them as dumb or lacking. (I can't even tell when someone has a mental "something" half the time since it has no affect on my evaluation of them) I also know that not having a college degree doesn't make you dumb either, my grandpa never even finished high school and he could probably give a Mineralogy student a good run for their money. I'm just dumb because it's factual for my cynical, self-deprecating mind... as well as a fact for other people who've experienced me being a mess, or forgetting basic things first-hand. I could probably name some people who've experienced the same thing interacting with me online.

any of you write about these sorts of things in your webcomics?
My problems are probably some of the few "self-insert" things I put in my comics, actually. One of my main characters is a cynic with slew of mental/physical problems, along with major depression, and drawing them is honestly very... pleasant? in a way. Although I can't say I can completely relate since I don't know if I have depression, but I do know I feel like garbage a lot. Lmao!
Like I said before, though. Looking at it from an objective standpoint sort of puts things into perspective a little. (Doing the research is also enlightening)
Until then... any of you write about these sorts of things in your webcomics?
One of the leads in my holiday-comic struggles with social anxiety! I'll get into it a bit more when I find the time to continue the story. It's not the focus of the story, but it is part of it - kind of like how my anxieties aren't the focus of my life, but are definitely part of it. :)
Until then... any of you write about these sorts of things in your webcomics? If not, maybe you should... it could serve as a form of therapy for yourselves, and maybe help your readers figure a few things out too....
Haaaah... My antagonist's host has a multitude of mental issues due to abuse. He tries to be strong, but he can't. It's a plot thingy I wanna share once I get to that point of my webcomic, but that's so far aheadddd.


4-Stripe White Belt
Can relate. I'm a probable Aspergers (my son was diagnosed earlier this year, and it's probably passed on by me, but I'm equal parts too scared and too poor to confirm it medically), and am highly anxious in any social setting that I can't pre-rehearse. Small talk might as well be an undiscovered foreign language for my ability to engage in it.

People assume (and I learned this through my wife many years later) that I don't like them, even in circumstances when I'm trying to engage. Obviously, I've been misreading social cues for years.

I had a panic attack before tabling at my first convention, five years ago. That was fun.
But success in creative endeavours is what I want most out of life, and if that means talking to strangers and making speeches, then I'm just going to have to do it.

If you just want to make the comics, but aren't too concerned about the career side, there's no need to force it. But if you want the career success, it comes with a whole lot of social and public requirements that have nothing to do with the creative work itself. And if you're not naturally vivacious in social situations, only practice will make you better, along with all the false steps, embarrassment, mortification, and panic that goes along with it. Shitty, shitty practice.

No one told me this when I was putting together my life's dreams as a child. But it is - and pretty much has always been - the reality of it.

Edit: in terms of my writing, I sort of write around it without addressing it directly, sort of a subconscious acknowledgement of my self-imposed isolation. Plenty of loners in my books, trying to sort their problems out on their own.
I have tons of anxiety myself for starters I find it hard to be super active on forums like this cus I'm really conscious of posting/replying to threads because (1) I hate getting into any arguments that might bring me unnecessary stress, (2) I don't like being badmouthed, (3) I don't like being criticized (yes I admit it). Hence, I take days (or weeks or actually never) to just simply check out the threads I did and reply to them (I'm not snubby, srsly just anxious). That goes on my own social sites. Whenever I see someone follow me on twitter or something like that there's this thought at the back of my head that "jeez this person who followed me might not like stuffs I post." So I just continuously tell myself "it's my wall so I have the freedom to post whatever I want and if they unfollow because they don't like what I do, it's okay. It just means that we're not meant to be friends."

Another thing I'm super anxious is emails. Especially commission emails. Whenever I send something to a client, I get super anxious at their response cus I'm really scared that they might say "your drawing sucks." Thankfully, I haven't gotten such harsh comments like that. The worst thing I got is just the client didn't respond at all which implies that they didn't like it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

IRL, I'm really introverted and shy unless I'm already comfortable with that person I'm with. On conventions, it takes me an utmost amount of effort and courage to be this super upbeat and friendly person (cus srsly who wants to approach snubby artists) which honestly really nerve-wracking and energy consuming. There are times that I'm super freaking stressed at socializing and I just log out for an entire day and just do my own thing.

I never really went to see any doctors (cus doctors are expensive) but I'm aware that I have some mental issues. So really, I'm one of those people who just "deal with it." Last year was actually so freaking miserable because I was so stressed on how I'm not having responses on my comic, how my sub numbers stagnated for half a year, how I'm not selling much on cons, why people unfollow/unsub me, what my parents think that I don't have a consistent paying job and how worthless I am, comparing myself to others, basically anything miserable I can think of under the sun and sometimes I just went to the point that I don't feel like doing anything and just lie down on my bed crying. It also totally affected how I behaved online and IRL as well. Really fun times.

And I just told myself I had enough of being a miserable b*tch so I try my best to "rewire" my brain and change my focus on to the more necessary and less stressful things and try to just be happy and do whatever I want to do without concerning much of what other's might think. For me, not listening to other people's opinion is not selfishness but a necessity to function well.

Oops I went off topic, Anyway I don't think there's anything wrong with being an introvert it's nature IMO. There are tons of successful people who are introverted. And despite introversion, we still have the ability mingle and socialize with others though on our part it's more challenging and energy consuming. So take rest if you've been into events that involved socializing a lot.

And networking is a really tricky thing. You can't just DM some stranger, tell them about your comic out of the blue and expect that they'll care and read it cause trust me, you're gonna be reaaaaaaallly disappointed and honestly, if you're just "networking" to get people to read your comic and you're not doing anything for others in return, it might be better if you just buy ads on Topwebcomics or Project Wonderful. Networking is more of what you can do for people rather what they can do for you and I learned that lesson the hard way. I highly suggest not to make things not just about you but try to help as many people as you could because helping people and and, not expecting anything from them in return is more fun. ;)

I think quite a number of us anxious and oddly tempered misfits are drawn to artistic expression because communication can be so frustrating. I have no official diagnosis and little interest in obtaining one, but I have pretty extreme bouts of depression, some agoraphobia and social anxiety (and phones make me very uncomfortable). As others have mentioned, performance, as been my key to functionality. When I simply have to interact with or engage people, I take on a role, or adopt a character. It provides a buffer I need between the hyper-critical internal me and the outward me that needs to deal with a situation.

When there's no expectation on me in public, I tend to hide as completely as possible in music.
It's really interesting (and more than a little reassuring) to see how many creative folks struggle with this sort of thing. I've been anxious all my life, and I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and depression as a teen. I've been on medication ever since and honestly, once I found the right ones for me, that's been the biggest help. That, and having to be An Adult - if I don't go to the shops/do the laundry/cook the meals then no one will, so I've gotten quite good at following a routine to get it done. It's had a positive impact on my comic making too, no more waiting for inspiration to strike if you've just got to get it done!


4-Stripe White Belt
I think quite a number of us anxious and oddly tempered misfits are drawn to artistic expression because communication can be so frustrating. I have no official diagnosis and little interest in obtaining one, but I have pretty extreme bouts of depression, some agoraphobia and social anxiety (and phones make me very uncomfortable). As others have mentioned, performance, as been my key to functionality. When I simply have to interact with or engage people, I take on a role, or adopt a character. It provides a buffer I need between the hyper-critical internal me and the outward me that needs to deal with a situation.
I'm pretty much the same way. I produce and create, and that helps me to deal with it. I don't really feel the need or desire to have an "official" diagnosis, and honestly have no interest in therapists, which would likely be far more of an ordeal than a comfort and would more likely ironically exacerbate either or both conditions. I've had a particularly nasty last month with regards to anxiety, but it's at least quantifiable and identifiable, even if logic doesn't always resolve the problem. It still is a little better when I can look at something and tell myself "you're not being rational, this isn't a rational fear" because after enough of that, I eventually do accept it and, with time, I'm able to beat back the anxiety.

I think that the most important thing is to know yourself well enough to know how you operate and know how you can sometimes trick yourself...and that you'll do it better than anyone else, because you know what works on you. Don't let yourself get away with it. Call BS on yourself sometimes, even. It honestly doesn't matter what this or that profession or book labels you with, whether it's anxiety, depression, asperger's (which is crazy overdiagnosed in the past decade), or just painful awkwardness -- you're still you and whatever term they affix to it isn't going to necessarily help others understand, or you to be able to deal with them better.

People like to label things and try to fit them into boxes, but that doesn't always work and, in my experience, tends to lead to more unpleasant surprises. Take a holistic approach and, perhaps most importantly of all, know yourself. The approach you take beyond that has to be up to you.

I do think that the staggering rate at which creative types -- usually those who don't fit comfortably into the expected, or the mainstream -- suffer from these forms of mental and emotional problems is more indicative of a serious problem with society and the culture we live in, and less so of problems with us. Not that we don't have problems -- just that society itself is a larger problem that is more prohibitively difficult to fix, and so few people are willing or able to affect positive, significant change.

In our way, I believe most of us try to do that with our art, and it may be what motivates some of us more than others to produce.
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Hello humans, it is good that this thread is a thing and is very supportive :)

I am a longtime sufferer of social anxieties to the point of mistakenly self-diagnosing twice, with BPD and Asperger's Syndrome. I no longer think I have BPD, but I have not seeked confirmation either way yet. I was tested for Asperger's after my self diagnosis and the belief of plenty of others that this would 'explain' me - as being 'highly intelligent' (in certain areas) and very introverted and anxious. The testing however showed me as being nowhere on the Autism/Asperger's scale and this showed me how it was my anxiety that was truly debilitating me.

Having spells of really low mood and anxiety had made me really afraid of others, in a way I still am today. However, getting out of an environment like school/college/home and being at university has improved my quality of life. Since I have hidden my true self, a queer idiot obsessed with science fiction and fantasy, behind a timid fragile intellectual image, it has been good to meet people where the spark is there that just tells you that you will be okay with them. This is very rare though and I can't describe how it happens.

The main advice I'd give for helping yourself without the help of those rare people who understand the pain and the joy of meeting someone similar is how I help myself -

Countering your internal voice: this is hard and requires you to keep going, and I still find it hard after a few years of doing it. But the simple idea is that when those things like "I can't" "I hate myself" come up, of countering with ideas like "it's okay" and "no I don't hate myself". I think I started doing this when I realised that it was really hurting me to say things to myself that I wouldn't say to other people.

Thinking about the world: this is a way of thinking that helps me get over any FOMO. I remember that historically the world we live in is a very new idea, and that people in the past would have much less around them to do, and a much smaller circle of people, and I think that if they could manage, without seeing this band or going to that pub, then I can too. Anxiety generally means I miss about a third or more of the things I say I want to do or say I will do, but by thinking about history and people who need time alone, it's helped me not hate myself as much for staying in, and made it less of a chore to go out, because on the other side of that coin is the charming idea that history has been made both by people staying in and thinking/relaxing and by people going out
doing things people do when they go out.

Hope these tips help, they might, they help me, still suffering with low mood a lot and I'm not sure what to do about that.

Lots of love xx
I'm an introvert and have social anxiety-- mine is largely focused on being the center of attention. I don't like to call attention to myself and when I'm put "on the spot" with all eyes focused on me I tend to freeze up. There's some other issues tied up in there too but that's my biggest hurdle. (Weirdly, this doesn't apply to conventions; I think in that case it's because I can surround myself with art, so people are looking at my art, not me, and that deflects attention enough it doesn't bother me.)

I got a prescription for anxiety medication a few years ago, and that has helped enormously. I'm now removed enough from the anxiety to recognize when my brain is freaking out over a problem that is not really a problem, and am able to say "Oh, Anxiety Brain is lying to me again about how terrible this is. Calm down, Anxiety Brain. We're gonna be ok."

However! Tips I used a lot before I got my medication include - making sure you go to new places with someone "safe." Someone close to you that you feel very comfortable with, and possibly being vulnerable in front of. That way you have someone to rely on if you get overwhelmed by new places or people.

If you're doing something totally new to you, either look up a How To online or be with someone who knows what they're doing. It's harder to end up in a panic spiral if you have someone there to go "it's cool, we can fix this" and help you break things down into simple steps. A lot of this kind of panic has faded for me as I got older. When I first got my car I was like "OH NO A FLAT TIRE WHAT DO I DO?" and now I'm like, "Ok, well, I can try to change it myself, get it to a nearby repair shop, or just call roadside assistance...." Experience means I have a better idea of alternatives and possible solutions if something goes wrong. (I also now have a much better support network of friends I know I can call on if I need help, I don't have to do everything myself.)

I have a lot of phone anxiety and hate talking on phones-- it always helped me to write out a script as to what I was gonna say, so I didn't have to come up with things on the spot when my brain was panicking.

Basically, I guess I react to anxiety by constantly trying to plan ahead and make contingencies in case something goes wrong. Then I can do my best to avoid any anxiety-inducing situations, or at least be better prepared if they do come up.

It seems a little strange, but I actually don't have any real trouble with doing art or going to conventions. I think a lot of this is, again, tied to experience-- my mom is an artist and I grew up going to fine art fairs and helping her out with her booth. By the time I was 17 and started doing conventions for my own art, I had a decent idea of how things might go and how to talk to potential customers. I had some difficult times during the travel and set up part of things in the beginning, especially if I ended up getting lost or running late-- but a combination of experience and much better planning means that hardly ever happens now, and my medication means I'm not as likely to collapse into a puddle of panic and tears if it does. As for art... maybe because I got a lot of encouragement in it growing up, but I've always been pretty confident in my abilities. And I learned fairly early on not to attach personal feelings to commissioned work. Some projects I enjoy more than others, but either way, what's important in those cases is what the client wants, not how I feel about it. (Doing like 25+ children's book projects for a vanity publisher, some of which were REALLY bad, helped a lot too.)

I do struggle with the amount of people at conventions as an introvert-- mostly I'm fine for the 8-10 hours running the booth, but then I am DONE. I go back home or to my hotel room and talk to NO ONE. I don't even like listening to music. I just need -quiet.- This is kind of a bummer because it means I can't hang out with anyone after the show ends, which makes it hard to network with people, and I also can't share hotel rooms with anyone-- so even if I had a table assistant, we'd have to have separate rooms (which kind of defeats the point.)


As for writing some of these things into my comics... I'm not sure yet if any of this will come up in Lanterns of Arcadia. I do have a shorter, self-contained GN project that I occasionally poke at, which stars a little girl with similar social anxiety problems, mostly because I wanted to do a story that would have helped teenage!me if it had been around then. That's definitely a future project, though, nothing I can finish anytime soon.
Oooh I'm glad I'm not alone in my extreme introverted-ness. It took me a long time to understand what being an introvert actually meant and how it shows itself in daily life. But learning about why I get exhausted when having to talk to people, why I simply can't pick up the phone to call someone or why I feel extremely uncomfortable around large groups of people and loud noise helped me a lot. I just always thought I was anti-social, despite getting along well with people.

My family sent me to many group activities when I was a child, including performing in stage plays or saying cute little poems in front an audience for father's day and stuff like that. That has helped me immensely to mask my anxious tendencies and it takes even close friends a long time to recognize me as an introvert. Most don't believe me until they happen to be around me when I show obvious signs or have to leave group activities early for literally no reason other than: I've reached my limit.

I feel I live quite well with the level of anxiety I experience. I learned to work around it and know what triggers me. When prepared mentally I can handle most situations, planning ahead and knowing what is going to happen is a great help. Being with a friend when going into the unknown is also an immense relief. Things may be stressful, but when everything works out I am very proud of myself in the end.
I am not diagnosed with any general angxiety disorder or social angxiety, but it definitely flares up every time I get pressured or stressed. I guess it's kind of the deal of being autistic, so there's that. I see myself as an introvert, even though I can talk people's hears off if anyone let me, but damn I will avoid the "nice weather isn't it?" talk. And I'll need a day or two after a big gathering to proces impressions.

I get the whole talking in phones are the worst. It is definitely one of the most stressful things anyone can put me to >.<. A nice trick I learned that makes it easier is to put the person on loud speaker and put them on a table in front of you. That way they are not speaking directly into your ear and I think that makes it a lot more bearable.

As far as coping I found that my angxiety is largely connected to my stress level, so as soon as my stress is managed, so is my angxiety. I don't know if that is of any help though. One thing I have found out however, is that if you manage to notice you are having a panic attack is occupy your brain with something else. Either remove yourself from the situation, go into a different room, go get a glass of water, go for a walk, or occupy your mind. Count something, try to remember that weird detail from that show you watched, memorize Latin verbs or song lyrics, whatever focuses your mind on something else.

About networking. I talked once with a psychology friend of mine about it (he's also autist), because I didn't get it either. But he told me it's not so difficult. He told me, that as son as you are talking with people about your craft, in his case talking with other psychologists at conventions and seminars, about his practice and experiences etc. he was networking, even when he didn't notice. That is to say, in our case, just being on this forum, talking with other comic artists is networking, so you are already doing it!

I hope some of this was informative and/or helpful to you :)
Not sure if it's social anxiety per se or something else, but I'm definitely an introvert and have had huge amounts of trouble interacting with people for my whole life, to the point where I couldn't even make myself do simple things like order food in a restaurant or talk to a cashier in a store at all until I was fifteen. I still have a lot of trouble, but not nearly as much as I did then; I started working really hard at overcoming my problems in my mid-teens because I wanted to be able get to the point of directing shows in the theatre I'd been doing stuff with for a long time so much that I could actually make myself talk to people for it. Still had a panic attack before giving the curtain speech before my first show, but I did get to that point, and everything theatre-related became relatively easy to deal with eventually. This gives me hope that once I figure out the right routines and what I'm supposed to say for other things they'll be easier too.

Not so much normal conversations, unfortunately. Anything I don't have a script for is very hard, I'm apparently real bad at picking up on social cues, and I can never manage to hit that balance between looking too shifty by not looking directly at people and looking too hostile by looking them in the eye. I still have days where I just can't handle things, especially unexpected things (sometimes as minor as requesting a drink refill in a restaurant, or as major as having to talk to somebody about finance/insurance/etc. all of a sudden), but most of the time I can make myself get through it.

E-mail's usually the best for me, but it can be hard, too. I usually give myself a certain amount of time before I have to hit the "send" button (otherwise I can waffle on it for hours), and if I'm especially nervous, I might ask a family member or trusted friend if either are available to look things over for me. I'm worried about going to cons for this reason, too -- I find them really overwhelming as an attendee (so many people, lots of noise, and they're always so bright, too), but I'm hoping it might actually be better if I'm sitting behind a table and have a defined role to do. I'm planning on going to some small, local conventions in Michigan next year, so we'll see how that goes!

As far as panic attacks go, those got a lot better for me once I realised what they were. I have always had a fair amount of medical anxiety on top of the other stuff, so they'd sent me into a spiral where I got convinced I was probably dying, but now that I know what's going on taking deep breaths and drinking water if available help a lot. Pacing around or moving always helps, too, or just tapping my foot or what if I can't move. If I can write up a sort of cheatsheet/semi-script for whatever I'm doing, that also helps, because then I know what I'm going to say and if I forget because I'm too busy trying not to panic I can look at the sheet. Probably that'd be awkward at conventions, though.

Maybe the most helpful thing for me so far is working my way up slowly. I've been trying to go to little artistic events around town that have people I don't know but with a purpose (short conferences and stuff rather than mingling events) and making myself talk to a few people, and it's always slightly less terrifying the third or fourth time I do something like that.