18 People Reveal What It is Actually Like To Have Social Anxiety.
We've all felt it that familiar feeling of anxiousness creeping up inside us when entering unfamiliar situations. But what is it like when these emotions get out of control? These people share what it is actually like to go through daily life having crippling social anxiety.
1/18. It's like constantly feeling as though someone is watching and critiquing your every move, like you have to perpetually edit yourself to say or do or be the right thing, or no one will ever forgive you for it and the world will end.
2/18. People assume that it's just feeling nervous. It's not. It's overthinking something so much that it makes you physically ill. Cramps, headaches, that horrible feeling of needing to rush to the toilet. Yes, you get nervous. But that's only the start of it. You find it hard to breathe, you think you're actually gonna die, cos you can't get air. Sometimes you pass out. I do. But it's different for everyone. It's worrying about anything and everything; things that don't even need worrying about. I get so worked up, and my stomach gets so knotted, that I can't physically eat, because it just wont stay down. You're constantly feeling like people are judging you, looking at you, even when they're not. You constantly feel like no one likes you, even when they do. And it's the constant feeling of something bad is going to happen.
Believe me, social anxiety is not just being 'shy'.
3/18. It's like looking at yourself through someones eyes and imagining what they're thinking. But its only the worst thoughts.
Whatever you do, you over-analyze it. To the point where your heart starts racing because of all the shit you put into your head.
You know it's all bullshit that you put into your own mind, but it still affects you.
Then, when you try to be social it's never comfortable, you keep thinking about every word you're going to say and every word you said. Maybe you sounded annoying or ignorant... you'll never know, but you will stress about it.
It's like having 10kg pushing on your lungs and shoulders that your can't get rid of. The weight randomly goes away, but comes back at a random time, just like your anxiety.
Sometimes you have good days, you feel like you're immortal, for the sheer fact that you didn't feel anxious that day. But the next morning, oh the next morning is going to be the worst morning of your life. It's your anxiety multiplied 10-fold.
You can't get out of bed, because outside just sucks and you don't want to stress yet another day. It's just not fair, why can't you live a normal life like everyone else? Maybe that day you feel like eating a bullet. But you hope that it will all go away some day.
4/18. Let's say you've just gotten on the bus. You do realise that everyone is staring at you don't you? And those two people talking to each other - you guessed it, they're talking about you. You're sweating a bit, but you find a seat. Oh dear, what's that smell? There's a scruffy looking person sat in front of me. Oh no, the rest of the bus thinks it's me. I know, I'll get off a stop early and walk from there; I ring the bell and get up to alight - everyone's still staring at me. Am I sweating still? Is the back of my shirt wet? Are they talking about it?
I step off the bus into a cool breeze and calm down. Then I notice two girls smiling at me. No, they're laughing at me. Is it because I look weird or my clothes are a mess?
And continue on, and on...
5/18. It's like being scared, constantly. Physically, it's like the feeling of accidentally skipping a stair while going down the stairs, but imagine that feeling while doing everything in life.
Sending a text, no matter who it's going to, whether your mom or best friend or boss, is like a twenty-minute process. "Does this sound okay? What if she takes it the wrong way? Is the emoji too much? What if she's busy and she gets annoyed that I'm texting her? Does she even like me?" Repeat on and on and on.
Imagine coming out of every conversation, but instead of having a nice time, imagine your most embarrassing experiences and make that feeling every experience of your life.
"Does this person like me? Was I being too loud? What if she secretly hates me and she's just putting up with me to be nice? What if what I said sounded stupid? What if everyone thought I was being obnoxious? What if they actually don't want to be friends with me? What if I was being too much? What if they secretly make fun of me behind their back? etc." It's a lot of constantly worrying, panicking over tiny things that really don't even matter, but to the point where you feel physically sick to your stomach. I've had to leave in the middle of classes, parties, various social events because of my anxiety. It's such a bad way to live life, but I have no choice besides either try medication, therapy, etc.
6/18. People stop inviting you places because you always back out, thereby ruining any friendships you managed to form.
You never contact people first because you think they'll be annoyed when really they think you don't care about them.
7/18. It's like knowing you have a problem, and the solution is right in front of you, but still not being able to do anything about it.
As someone with social anxiety disorder who would probably be quite extroverted otherwise, being at a party or similar event is like someone showing you what you can't have.
You stand there watching everyone else having fun, and know that all you would need to do to join in is just talk and get involved, but, you just can't do it. What you want is being dangled under your nose but you can't get to it, like someone holding the key to your prison cell just out of your reach.
But the worst part of it is that its your fault. You know you have a problem and if it wasn't for that you'd be having a great time, and that it's because of your fear that you can't join in, unlike having a prison key dangled in front of you just out of your reach. More like you can reach the key, but you're choosing not to, and then getting upset about being in that prison cell. And you always know that, and that's probably the worst part, knowing that its your fault.
8/18. Your friend is having a bad day, so it must be because of something you did.
9/18. As a kid, people would describe me as "shy." As I grew into my teens, I realized that I didn't want to participate in the conversation for fear that I would say something "stupid." If I didn't say anything, then they can't form an opinion about me. If they have no opinion of me, then they neither like or dislike me. Having no opinion of me is better than have no someone not like me or think that I'm stupid.
10/18. A mundane task like grocery shopping seems like a climb up Everest.
11/18. Feeling like every conversation is awkward and it's your fault. Feeling like your wasting other's time by subjecting them to your conversational skills.
Feeling overwhelmed having to come up with questions and answers to questions at the same time while attempting to avoid that dreaded staleness that you are certain everyone knows you for.
12/18. Even writing this I've spent the last hour wondering how its gonna be perceived, its just such a ridiculous notion that everyone in the 'real' world must be talking about you in particular, like those two girls you walk pass are gonna go home and talk about how hideous you are, like you're done kind of terrifying beast, and even when there is a compliment, its surely a joke.
I haven't taken pictures of myself for 2 years, try avoid looking in mirrors I barely manage a hug let alone talking to a stranger, I have to wait until its dark to put the bins even though its only 10 yards outside, but people might see me and that's terrifying. I use to play as a goalkeeper and I cab remember all the goals I've let in like its always my fault, even when I broke my wrist I carried on until the ball went out, then sought attention just so my team wouldn't hate me.
But its like I said, its infuriating because I know there's nothing to be afraid of, yet I'm locked up in my room all day avoiding people.
13/18. It's just a horrific annoyance because of how weird it is in its application. Like, job interviews are great because they're universally structured and formal, but getting food at a place you haven't been to before? Terrifying. Having to look up at a menu in a line that slowly inches forward while you panic over the thought of messing up your order because you're not familiar with a place sucks a**.
14/18. Crying in the grocery store because you can't find the limes, but the thought of asking someone makes you physically ill.
Not going to the dentist/doctor for years because calling to make an appointment is outside your abilities.
Skipping meals because there isn't any food in the house, but ordering means having to answer the door.
15/18. Imagine overthinking minor interactions into oblivion and jumping to the worst conclusions every time to the point of being physically sick.
Remember when you were a kid and your mom left you in line at the store and you panicked like there was no tomorrow? Imagine that every time you go shopping, out to eat, etc.
16/18. People say the definition of an introvert is that being around other people drains you instead of giving you energy. Social anxiety is this on crack. Things that on paper sound like a great time are exhausting. Going to the supermarket and going to happy hour with coworkers are almost equally exhausting. It's just... tiring. You wonder if life is this heavy for other people. I suspect not.
17/18. Job interviews are killer for me because I know for a fact that they're judging me based off of my social skills. They could ask you absolutely anything. One time, an interviewer asked me what my favourite fruit is and to explain to them why. Afterwards, I realized that they wanted to see my customer service skills, but at the time I froze up and had no idea what to say (This was like 5 years ago btw). Not only that, you have to convince them that you are a valuable person when you don't even believe it yourself.
18/18. Its like having a monster live inside of your head. It never leaves. Its there first thing when you wake up in the morning and last thing when you close your eyes at night.
It doubts you and everything about you. It keeps you prisoner. It laughs at you and tells you nobody thinks youre interesting anyway so why bother saying whats on your mind.
It has a sh*tty retort to everything you think. Its like being in an abusive relationship with yourself, living in crippling fear of saying the wrong thing or making people laugh at you because youre obviously a waste of human life.
This fear wears you down until you give into it before it startsyou stay home all the time, stop answering calls, dont even want to comment on social media in case someone pokes fun at what you have to say. You dont even want to go to the grocery store because people might make eye contact with you, or youll have to say 3 words to the cashier. You order things online because the thought of going outside makes your heart race with fear.
So you are alive, but youre not living. You exist. And you hate your existence because you feel youll never be able to live like normal people.
For the record, I keep my anxiety at bay through medication, healthy eating, moderate exercise, and forcing myself to try new things socially. Im very happy now. :)
When in the beginning stages of dating, it's important to know as much as humanly possible.
The element of surprise is no longer a fun aspect of romance.
Ask the small questions. Ask the hard questions.
Interrogate. Grill. Investigate.
Of course, you should do it with a subtle hand instead of an interrogation lamp.
The truth is all we have.
Redditor RedditPenguin02 wanted to make a list of the best inquiries to make when starting a relationship, so they asked:
"What is a good question to ask before you start dating someone?"
From what I've learned in my past, always ask... "Are you into Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The TV show."
If it's a no, then it's a dealbreaker.
I DoShocked Schitts Creek GIF by CBCGiphy
"Are you married?"
"I would ask that. If they said no, the next question was 'Would your wife agree?'"
"If they laughed, they were telling the truth. If they got indignant and pissed off that I thought they were lying…they were married."
"Worked every time."
"Do you clap when the plane lands?"
"I swear people used to do this all the time when I was a kid (early 2000’s), and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone do it in 5+ years. I guess 9/11 really made people afraid of flying for about 10 years and then most folks decided they didn’t need to applaud when the plane landed safely?"
"Do you want kids in the future? If one person wants kids and the other wants to stay child-free, then they are not compatible. And it is better to try dating someone else."
"It confuses me whenever some couples who disagree on this end up in a conundrum because one expected the other to change their mind. This is something I bring up early cause I see no future with someone who wants kids when I do not."
"You should always put childfree on your dating profile. It's not a small thing. Either you agree on it or not. If I had to date, I would put childfree on my profile too."
Carb it on...
"Do you like bread? That is the extent of my flirting skills."
"Being German, bread is like a frickin' cultural phenomenon here, we have around 300 kinds of bread, there's a bread museum, every time I go on vacation I'm like yeah it's nice here but the bread ain't it yall, never as good as home lol. So yeah, valid question and the only answer to this is an enthusiastic yes."
Room TemperatureFrosty The Snowman Winter GIF by filmeditorGiphy
"What temperature do you set the thermostat to throughout the year?"
"Haha this one always gets me as someone who needs low temps - you can always put on more clothes, I can't peel my skin off to get cooler."
The thermostat is a dealbreaker for me.
It's gonna be 60. Love it or move on.
DiscoveryBlown Away Wow GIF by AminéGiphy
"When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
"Opens a window to how they think."
"If that was really early on in the dating I’d think it was a bit of a head-f**k question. I’d probably find that question a red flag, tone dependent, although I agree with the sentiment."
"Aside from major differences about finances, kids, politics, or religion, a big one is; What are your hobbies? If they don’t really have any, you may be the next hobby, which isn’t going to work unless you’ve got that kind of time. If the hobbies are time-consuming ones generally done with a SO."
"But you have no interest in them, that could be an issue as well. If only one of you likes camping, wanted to spend vacation lounging instead of exploring, didn’t like sports, etc either that partner is annoyed or the other feels like they don’t get to enjoy what they love."
"Ask them about their exes. If they think every single one of them is an a**hole... they are likely the real a**hole."
"I have mixed feelings about that - I've been in three previous relationships and all three were emotionally abusive towards me (one wasn't nearly as bad as the other two, though) in various ways. I know this is a common sentiment and it always makes me afraid that people won't believe me or something.
"I mean, I realize in your comment you said 'likely' and not '100% sure' and there's plenty of room for nuance."
"I would try to take care of any dealbreakers. If I find out that she has different political values than I do, it's not going to work out in the long run, so I wouldn't bother. Same thing with other factors (religion, financial values, etc.). I would also ask how much cuddling she likes to engage in, as I prefer a lot."
EssentialsTell Me More To Do List GIF by Disney ChannelGiphy
"When I was dating my three essential questions were always kids, sex, and money. If you're not on the same wavelength for any of those three things, just don't even try."
"So, how much personal debt do you have?"
"Source: the guy who dated a woman with huge debts and was asked to pay for everything and then some".
"After that, I'd go with, 'Have you ever been diagnosed with borderline, narcissistic, or histrionic personality disorders?"
The questions are basic.
Just ask for the truth.
Do you have any good Qs to add to the queue? Let us know in the comments below.
As much as we always hop for our dating efforts to be worth it and for every relationship to work out, we all know that some relationships are not destined to work out.
But sometimes relationships end for totally valid reasons, and sometimes the reasons are painful, if not devastating.
Redditor overIorded asked:
"What went wrong with your last partner?"
History Repeating Itself
"He cheated on me. And I was glad because that was finally reason enough to allow myself to leave."
"Now I know somebody who's in the same situation. They're trapped. And she's such a gentle and fun person who's afraid to leave him because 'well, it's always been like this, I'm used to it,' and 'I deserve it.'"
"She wants to leave him, she knows she should leave him, but it's so hard to do it, and I know that feeling."
"I'm thinking I should give her my phone number like when the day comes you've had enough, I'll gladly come to help you move out from that s**thole."
Mental Health Struggles
"I'm lost in my own trauma and mental illness and he deserves better than anything I have to offer right now."
"I’ve been on the receiving end of this, and mildly said, it absolutely ruined me. Her trauma and mental problems were BAD, but I still wanted to be with them. So if you ask me, as long as they can give you the space and support you need, and want to be with you, let them make the decision."
"It's also fair and mature to care very much about someone but realize that you only have the emotional bandwidth to take care of yourself right now."
"I'm sure it was very hard for both of you to come to terms with that decision. I don't think it's that he deserves better, I think it's that your attention needs to be on guiding yourself through this thicket of trauma and mental illness before you can be someone else's partner. You can love each other very much but also acknowledge that you don't have the tools to spare for a relationship right now."
"I'm proud of you for focusing on your own mental health and someday, when you have more emotional stability and energy, I hope you find a wonderful partner."
"We disagreed on how many women he was allowed to date. I’m very strong on monogamy and have no interest in someone (in a supposedly committed relationship) that isn’t."
At Least There's That
"Her psychotic brother tried to kill me. Thankfully he has a Stormtrooper's aim..."
"Hate the attempted murder, love the 'Star Wars' reference."
"He wanted a big family, like, six kids, all-natural. Obviously, he wouldn't be birthing them. This was very important to him while I was pretty ambivalent about kids, and the further into my adulthood I've gotten, the more I've realized I just don't want to be pregnant."
"I broke it off so we could both get the lives we wanted. He was also quite a bit more conservative than me, and at the time closeted pansexual person, and some stuff he believed just didn't line up with what I believed. It hurt, but it was amicable."
"Now he has a wife and kids like he wanted, and I am happily partnered and childfree. It worked out for the best."
"She hated that I had a healthy relationship with my family and was trying to find ways to sabotage it."
"Similar aspect to mine, she hated my sister and mother because she had a bad relationship with her sister and mother. She would get mad at me whenever I brought my family up."
"My last boyfriend dumped me because I got mad that he was coming to Dallas after I hadn't seen him for two months, but didn't want to see me."
"He was going to meet up with some friends of his he hadn't seen in a few months. I told him that was fine with me, but I felt he should make time to see me too since we hadn't seen each other in two months and we were supposed to be a couple."
"He responded to my anger by ghosting me. That was two years ago."
Distracted with a Punch
"A girl contacted me about him talking to her. I asked him what was going on, and he sucker-punched me in the face."
"He cheated on me for all six years we were together and then accused me of cheating on him, even though I wasn't allowed to leave the house."
"I'm also pretty sure he slept with my sister-in-law when my brother and I went to pick up dinner."
Children Come First
"He was and still is no father to his kids, has anger issues, and probably has other mental health issues. I tried for years to help him and help the relationship, but he wasn't having it. After seeing how my oldest suffered under him, I had to leave."
"I communicated how I felt about many things in the relationship. He never communicated about anything."
"Oh look, it's the last 14 years of my life..."
"I'm guilty of this, and boy, do I regret not being able to open up about my feelings. It cost me my marriage. But now I'm trying to be more open and share my thoughts and feelings. Just wished I could've done this earlier than later."
"I started drinking again and became a miserable a**hole due to my own depression and my s**tty job. As such, she didn't get the attention she deserved, and had to put up with my s**tty mood all the time... so she left. I don't blame her."
"So, it was me. I don't know if I trust myself with a relationship again, but aside from the shame of knowing I hurt someone who I loved, and loved me back, but I was too self-absorbed and selfish, I am trying to be a better human to everyone."
"And to my ex: You'll find someone again... someone better."
"He wanted to move to Alaska to be with some girl he was 'friends' with before me."
"My ex's early-onset Alzheimers (at the age of 50) and the resulting violence, paranoia, and irrational thinking. I tried to honor my vows, but he was so far out there, I feared for my life."
Different Definitions of Marriage
"She cheated on me after five years total together, the last one of which was while we were engaged. She cheated on me for months, all while I was planning the wedding, working part-time, and going to graduate school so I can support us comfortably in the future."
"I planned on giving her everything I could and sharing the rest of my life with her, and apparently she didn’t care."
This conversation just goes to show that relationships can end for all kinds of reasons. Even in relationships where there is still a lot of love and committment, the relationship can still end, just like how the relationship can end suddenly because of a surprising and devastating realization.
We all had our aspirations about becoming a certain type of person or accomplishing different goals when looking towards the future.
But the goals we have for ourselves can drastically change once we're adults, and that's partly due to the influence of different life experiences.
Sometimes, despite our best intentions and respective strategies to achieve something by a certain age, we can never imagine experiencing different outcomes.
Curious to hear from strangers online who never saw themselves in their current positions in life, Redditor graces-taylor12 asked:
"What about becoming an adult caught you completely off guard?"
The following Redditors were not ready to process the inevitable when it came to their parents.
A Role Reversal
"Watching your parents becoming old and frail."
"Dealing with this yesterday and it is an eye-opener. Its hard seeing someone you’ve known as a pillar of strength for 30+ years in a position of such weakness, and knowing that he might improve but generally the decline is coming."
"I've had a weird atypical experience. My dad was pretty old when I was born and always had a bad knee he could never afford to get fixed. He could barely walk and has never been able to run since I could remember. It got so bad that he couldn't even walk up or down the stairs in our house."
"Well he eventually got a knee replacement and he's now more agile at 73 than he was at 53. It's weird to see."
"I'll never forget when I first realized how frail they actually were. I went over to their house to help out with some chores, and they couldn't even clean out any of the pens by themselves. They ended up selling most of their animals that year because they couldn't look after them."
Life Can Be Cruel
"It’s slowly beginning with my parents, small hints here and there, they’re in their mid 50s.The big freak out for me has been watching my grandparents slowly declining over the last 3ish years. One set of grandparents have been gone since I was a kid, so these two are all I’ve got now. My Pap’s arthritis and sciatica is to the point now where it’s a process for him just to stand up. 2020 I saved him from a fall, if I wasn’t there to catch him, he would’ve easily been in the hospital for quite a while. That was the first 'Oh sh*t, he’s not immortal' moment."
These Redditors discovered older doesn't always mean wiser.
"I can do whatever the f'k I want. But I don't really want to do anything..."
"Yup, the idea of doing whatever you want as an adult was the biggest scam cartoons sold us."
"Yeah, you can do anything you want but you're gonna need money. So you get a job, there goes most of your day to your job."
"So now you have money but that'll go to bills first and by the time you can do what you want you don't have the energy or funds. Then the loop continues.."
Fake It Til You Make It
"How clueless other adults are. I really thought adults had their sh*t in order while in reality most people are winging it."
"Maturity is a skill. Some people learn it quickly. Others never do."
"Children are limited by their youth. Their brains aren't fully developed. But adults are not guaranteed to get more mature without working for it."
"Some people never grow up. They just get old."
"I'm surprised by the amount of people who genuinely couldn't live by themselves if they had to. They somehow never learned basic life skills like simple cooking or cleaning and always had someone else to do it for them."
People became more aware of time.
Not Enough Me Time
"How little free time you have. You have to work, you have to prepare for work, drive to work, drive home from work. You also have to do household chores. You have to take care of kids if you have some. When do I get to enjoy my hobbies?"
Point Of Exhaustion
"Most of the time I'm so tired from the day, I just don't have the mental capacity to do anything but go right to bed and watch tv ;_;"
Never Going Back
"Transitioning from college student + part time worker to full time worker I gained a bunch of time back. I was shocked that I could just decide to do laundry tomorrow if I didn't feel like it. Every evening I had this huge chunk of time that was just open."
"But then, moving from an apartment to a house, now there's a bunch more chores to do. Then introducing kids, now there's all that. But still, I wouldn't go back to the hectic college life."
"How it just goes on endlessly."
"When you're a kid, there's a summer break every year, and a new school to go to in a couple of years. Whatever part of your life you are in is clearly delimited and there is something new to look forward to after it."
"Once you're an adult, it's just 5 days of work and 2 days of weekend over and over and over until you die."
After having a decent, long run in the entertainment business as a dancer, I've long held the belief I was invincible.
I was physically stronger, more agile, and foolish enough to think I could perpetually live in such a state.
All of a sudden, reality smacked me in the face one morning when I woke up and heard and felt various parts of my body crackle and pop like when milk hits a bowl of Rice Krispies.
My tired body had the audacity to inform me:
"Not today and from this day forward."
We're currently not on speaking terms.
Not much good can come from dwelling on the past.
Even so, no matter how hard we try to avoid doing so, we can't help but look back on things we've done in our lives which we regret.
In some cases, it's nothing which had any sort of lasting effect, like wishing we thought more carefully about where we had a birthday or spending more than we could afford on an outfit that didn't end up paying off.
In sadder cases though, we often wonder what our lives might have been like if he had made a different, and smarter decision.
If we didn't say certain things to certain people, not spoken up when someone needed us to or rushed too hastily into a life we weren't ready for.
"What is one thing you regret doing in life?"
Giving People Attention Who Didn't Deserve It
"Wasting time worrying about people that never spared me a single thought."- Eborys
Getting In With The Wrong Crowd
"I regret making friends with people who I knew were bad for me just because it was easier than becoming friends with good people."
"Now I don't have many solid friends."- misswallflowerr
Staying In, When They Should Have Gotten Out
"Not ending bad/unhealthy/unfulfilling relationships sooner."- Superseriouslyguys
"Hanging on to a relationship for too long."
"I should have up and disappeared the first time he was disrespectful."- Mirrorflute88
Not Taking Enough Risks
"Not putting myself out there enough."
"I probably missed out on a lot of opportunities because I'm so self-conscious."
"Working on this though!"- Fife_Flyer
"Not following my dreams and ended up sitting behind a desk for 30 years."
"Of course, I'm currently on Reddit sitting behind my desk."
"So, there's that."- CatOnTheHill
"Overthinking my way out of potentially rewarding choices."- mmmmike1590
Rushing Into Things
"Going to college before I had the slightest idea what I wanted to do with my life."- Mysterious_Shake2894
Taking Things For Granted
"Not spending more time with my mom."
"I visited her 2-3 times a week but still, there were other times she'd call and I'd ignore the call or tell her I didn't have time to talk."
"Would give anything to go back and take every one of those calls."- Fruitjustlistens
Putting Their Health At Risk
"Most of 2019–addiction bottom."
"Sober now for 432 days and counting."- CommunicationTop5231
"20 years spent on expensive, self-fed poison."
"Biggest regret of my life, by far."- Itsprobablysarcasm
"Mentally exhausting myself at work for companies that turned out to not give a sh*t about me or value my work."- fpuni107
"Being too nice to tell undeserving people to f*ck off when I should've been putting myself first."
"Lessons learned."- MrsHppy
Not Having Enough Fun
"So, this is gonna sound kinda dumb, but I kinda wish I had acted out a bit more."
"Taken more risks, gotten in trouble more, explored and pushed my boundaries."
"I was pretty sheltered growing up and really wanted to be this good person."
"It created a lot of conflicting feelings for me."
"It also contributed to me avoiding doing some stuff cause I thought it'd be bad for me."
"Now that I'm older and worked through some of those issues, I feel like I missed out on a lot of stuff other people got in their teens and 20s."
"I'm now at a point where I'm exploring that, but most people my age have already gone through it."
"I just feel like I'm trying to 'catch up' with everybody."- animewhitewolf
It's only human to look back on things we regret, or wish we had done differently.
But living in the past will only keep us in the past.
The only way to move forward and make progress is to accept the present for what it is: a present.