Living with Social Anxiety
As long as I can remember, I have struggled with social anxiety.
I was labeled shy and introverted as a child, which I let define me into young adulthood.
As a kid, I would quit sports, was scared to call and order a pizza, avoided raising my hand, and was embarrassed when attention (even good) was put on me.
At 12 years old, a psychiatrist diagnosed me with social anxiety disorder (as well as generalized anxiety and depression with a prescription for Prozac).
I finally felt a bit understood, but still didn't know anyone else who felt the same way.
It held me back and created a lack of self-esteem in daily life activities that seemed easy to everyone else.
I constantly compared myself to others.
Why can she raise her hand with such an eloquent answer in class?
How can she be so chatty and everyone love her?
Why can't I be that comfortable and just speak up for myself?
In my 20's, I started businesses and realized hiding behind a computer wasn't going to get me very far...
I had to put myself out there by networking, public speaking, recording videos, writing vulnerable articles, singing and more.
Believe me, it was nothing short of scary! There have been plenty of shaky hands, stumbling over my words, embarrassing red-face and fear of being misunderstood.
However, each time it got an ounce bit easier.
Recently I was talking with a couple women and shared how public speaking and networking is totally out of my comfort zone. Each women looked at me and said they had no idea! I was surprised they didn't know this about me, but it gave me an appreciation for how far I have come with my social anxiety...
Does any of this sound familiar to you:
Major nerves walking into a room full of people
Avoidance of making phone calls
Not advocating for oneself
Despise extra attention on you
Prefer typing or texting than other forms of communication
Quitting things (or not signing up) because unsure of what to expect
Not putting yourself out there in life and business
Hate lunch-time, especially when you don't know anyone
Feeling awkward when trying to greet someone or make small talk
Wondering if people think you are a snob because you are quiet
Rather work alone
Prefer to stay in on a Friday night than socialize
Do you feel it's holding you back from:
Meeting that special someone
Getting a promotion at work
Starting your own business
Standing up for yourself or a loved one
Expressing yourself creatively
Getting involved with a cause you believe in
Obviously I am not diagnosing you with social anxiety disorder.* I just want to bring awareness to anxiety in social situations and give some tips that have helped me face fears and move forward over the years.
1. Practice, practice, practice
You may have friends that can go into a social situation and feel totally comfortable. However, you may freeze up or stutter over your words. It's important to practice greetings, small talk, presentations, etc. This will help you to feel more comfortable and confident when in that setting. It's beneficial to practice conversations with someone you trust. You can even play games such as Table Topics to practice answering questions on the spot. It will build up your self-esteem and prepare you for conversations in the future.
2. Put yourself out there
Sitting at home on a Saturday night waiting to make friends or meet the guy of your dreams doesn't typically work. Nor does sticking with a job you hate because you are avoiding the scary interview process for a new job.
You need to put yourself out there. Period.
Yes, it may feel scary, but the more you do it, the easier it will get. I promise.
3. Try something new
Each week you can set a new goal to work on your social skills. You can make a bold phone call, create a video about something that interests you, speak up about a mission you believe in, attend a networking event and much more. Grab an accountability partner to share your ideas with so they can make sure you actually do it.
4. Let go of fear
Try to think of the worst thing that can happen by being more social. Maybe you get embarrassed during a conversation. Maybe you make a mistake when presenting. Maybe you get a little shaky meeting someone new. Remember, fear= False Expectations Appearing Real
Most of the things we are afraid of, don't even happen! So face your fears and do it even when it feels scary. You may be pleasantly surprised that you actually SURVIVED and something amazing came from it.
5. Trust yourself
Look, we are all humans just doing the best we can. You will never be an extroverted-speak all your thoughts out loud-kind of obnoxious person. (I mean, sometimes they are annoying and loud, aren't they?? Sorry, not sorry, extroverted friends reading this)
You like to think before you speak. You are probably pretty compassionate and don't want to hurt others' feelings. When you speak up, it will feel good. You are finally giving yourself permission to speak up for what you believe in and valuing your own voice. We were born with a voice so we need to use it the best way possible.
So quick questions:
Are you sick of saying you want to make changes, but then avoiding them because of fear?
Are you curious what you are missing out in your life by "staying safe"?
I am here to give you some extra love + support with your social anxiety if you are ready to let this shit stop holding you back. YES, let's try this!
Schedule your free Heartache to Hope Call HERE.
I get it.
Oh boy do I get what it's like to live with social anxiety and the fear it creates every.single.day.
But enough is enough. We need to live our lives fully and let go of the fear. Let's chat.
*Note: If you have debilitating social anxiety, you may want to seek expert help from a psychiatrist or therapist. I am unable to diagnose or prescribe medication. I am only offering tools and alternative ideas to help.