Hi guys! I was looking through my past blog posts, and realized that my last social anxiety update was all the way back in September 19, 2015! Almost a year ago! (You can check it out here: 9/18 Weekly Recap: exams, college apps, dance, social anxiety).
I’m really glad to say that since then, I’ve grown much more confident among people. I recently joined a local chapter of Toastmasters, an international organization dedicated to helping people improve their public speaking skills. I went to my second meeting today, and actually won “Best Table Topics” of the day! I’ll do a more in-depth post on what a typical Toastmasters meeting entails, but Table Topics is a portion of the hour-long meeting that trains members’ impromptu/extemporaneous speaking. One member asks a question, and calls upon another RANDOM member to stand up and answer it in one to two minutes. Today I was asked the question, “Who is my ‘strangest’ family member and why.” My two brothers, Austin and Chris, actually attended this meeting with me (upon mother’s strong urging), so of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to embarrass at least one of them! I spoke for a little over a minute about how Chris’s artistic persona made him the oddball of the family. Meanwhile, Chris was staring at his feet, head resting on palm, laughing in good-natured mortification. At the end, I was very surprised that I ended up winning that category- and I have a ribbon to prove it! I feel proud that I was able to challenge myself and participate in the meeting, despite how nervous I felt.
Another way in which I’ve been tackling my social anxiety is by getting my first job at Hollister! My first day is actually tomorrow afternoon, and I am feeling, admittedly, a bit jittery over it. This is my first job EVER, so it should be an interesting, eye-opening experience. I am working as brand manager, which means I’ll be working the register and interacting with all the customers. If that’s not the most direct way to tackle social anxiety, then I don’t know what is!
However, I will say that while it is important to challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone, you have to do it in baby steps. If I were forced into joining Toastmasters or working at Hollister two years ago, chances are that the experiences would be so traumatizing that I’d be left feeling even LESS confident and willing to fight the anxiety. When overcoming any fear, one musn’t plunge into the deep end without learning how to swim, for doing so can actually be counter-productive. Another important thing to have when fighting anxiety is STRONG EMOTIONAL SUPPORT SYSTEM. Fighting fears entails you to expose yourself to frightening situations, and it helps to have a buddy to urge you on when you don’t want to move forward and affirm your bravery for exposing yourself to your fears.
The process of overcoming a fear is gradual and requires lots of patience. It is a marathon, not a sprint. You will have “up days” when you successfully remain calm in scary situations- today, for instance, is an up day for me, because I was able to deliver my little spiel at Toastmasters calmly and eloquently. Other days may be “down days”, when your anxiety gets the better of you and hinders you from functioning to your greatest potential. Know that it is totally okay to have down days! One step back, three steps forward. This idea can be applied to ANYTHING that requires learning a skill(s) to reach a goal- dance, music, professional careers, etc.
Alrighty, guys! I have to get back to studying Chinese/chemistry (prep for college), but it was really nice writing this little update. I always feel a bit more connected to you guys when I write something personal like this. My apologies if this post sounded rushed- my summer is turning out to be busier than expected!
Hugs and Kisses to All!!