Social anxiety disorder is a common type of anxiety disorder. A person with social anxiety disorder feels symptoms of anxiety or fear in certain or all social situations, such as meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview, answering a question in class, or having to talk to a cashier in a store. … The person is afraid that he or she will be humiliated, judged, and rejected.

-National Institue of Mental Health-

A person with #socialanxiety disorder feels symptoms of anxiety or fear in social situations. Click To Tweet

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My Experience With Social Anxiety

If you’d like to see me flustered and hear my heart beat uncontrollably, put me in a room full of people I don’t know (sometimes even people I know) and ask me to make small talk. I am particularly awful at small talk and never quite feel like I have that authentically charismatic, inviting personality. I become filled with anxiety about what to say, how to say it and when to say it and worried what others are thinking of me as I speak. To top it off I constantly have intrusive thoughts about all the wrong things I have said or done wrong. In college, I use to turn to liquid courage to turn myself into a social butterfly, but that had its consequences. I got tired of the cost ($$$), the recovery time and the mistakes of liquid courage. Also, I got tired of the fake friendships, not all but many were associated with that fake social experience. I wanted to be free of the fake friendships that were only available when drinks where involved and I wanted to feel comfortable being out in social environments alone.

Understanding Your Triggers

My social anxiety was triggered in childhood: not being able to maintain friends because I would say or do the wrong things, being made fun of in social settings by peers, being compared to other people’s children who were seemingly better than me, having my mistakes put on full display for family to analyze and having my flaws constantly highlighted. These experiences became my internal voice and this voice was like a storm raging inside my mind. Over time I became increasingly fearful of having conversations with strangers and praying for conversations to end as soon as they began. To top it off each and every time I would say the wrong thing I would beat myself up about it for weeks and have intrusive thoughts about those moments for months.

How I Overcame My Social Anxiety

Often I wouldn’t go out to places or events because I didn’t have someone to go with and I used every trick in the book to avoid unsolicited conversations. The idea of holding a conversation about who knows what with someone I wasn’t close with felt so awkward and uncomfortable. Through therapy, I began to realize my true fear and made a conscious decision to challenge them. By challenging myself to be fully uncomfortable and put myself in situations where I would have to engage in small talk, I found that I felt most comfortable listening to others but also talking about specific topics that I was passionate about. So I began to set dates with myself. I would be brave and go where my heart desired. I explored new spots of interest, and I would carry whichever book I was attempting to read along with me.

I am not a bookworm, good at reading or even good at finishing books. Despite this, I realized that books on topics I enjoyed gave me words in uncomfortable situations.  So as I challenged myself to start going out alone more often, and taking my book as my shield made me brave enough to have to talk a stranger. A book in hand made me feel less out of place being out alone and less frustrated waiting for someone to arrive and was a good topic for small talk with intrigued strangers. I was slaying my social anxiety and I was actually getting closer to finishing books I had started. I eventually switched to a Kindle e-reader, which I had bought to put my textbook on because textbooks are heavy AF, and it was so convenient because on one small device I had many books always with me.

How Can You Understand and Overcome Your Social Anxiety?

There are varying degrees of social anxiety, so will this be a solution for everyone? No. But I want you to truly think about what are you giving up on or missing out on due to social anxiety. What lies creep into your mind when you think about overcoming that fear. If you are like me it’s the lie that everyone is watching you, that you aren’t personable and that you can’t hold a conversation. Girl those are all your minds lies! Find your shield and stop missing out on truly engaging in this world. Set yourself free from the bondage of that lie. It will still be uncomfortable at first, but it will make you more comfortable and confident with time.

Find your shield and stop missing out on truly engaging in this world. Click To Tweet

Please share your experience with social anxiety and what helped you in the comments below, it may help someone else!

Need help identifying your triggers? click here (👈🏾click) to receive our free resource, The Trigger Tracker for Mental Health

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