Warning: Wall of Text.
For those that know me well, they might have figured out that I tend to get social anxiety. If not, well be easy on me. I try to avoid it, haha. Anyway, I found this post from a self-improvement sub-reddit topic to be very accurate. Basically, the poster describes how someone with social anxiety may act or think. The key though is that she writes it in a way to give you insight on how someone would be approaching situation from the point of view of someone with social anxiety. The last part is the best though. I’m gonna need to remember the closing thoughts next time I find myself in a situation where I feel social anxiety. Anyway, here’s the quoted post since I wanted to share it.
I think one of the ideas behind the “get a hobby” thing is about pulling yourself out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself to do things that are different from your norm. Through experiences, you may end up doing things that surprise you about yourself. Having experiences that are different from what we are used to wake us up inside a bit. It can be empowering because we are pushing our own internal limits.I’m not even talking about climbing a mountain or anything. It can be something as simple as a very shy person saying, “My goal for today is to talk to a woman.” Say this person is incredibly shy and has social anxiety. Talking to a stranger is a big fucking deal. Especially a woman. He really doesn’t want to do it. He thinks about it for 3 days. He imagines how the conversations will happen. He pictures the other person laughing at him. The first day he leaves the house, he waits for the bus and is standing behind a woman who has left the zipper of her backpack open. He thinks, “I should tell her that her zipper is open so all her stuff doesn’t fall out.” Then he thinks, “No, maybe she did that on purpose. I’m not going to say anything.” He’s just made an excuse for himself there. He’s backed out of speaking to this woman and justified it to himself. He goes home and analyzes what could have happened if he’d said something. The woman could have said, “Oh thanks for telling me,” or, “It’s meant to be like that, but thanks.” Are either of these responses that terrible? No. He mentally kicks himself and says he will try again tomorrow.
The next day, he’s at the supermarket buying some groceries, and a woman stops him and asks where he got the Oreos (which are in his cart) from. He instantly freezes up, points to the aisle next to him, and quickly heads for the check-out. When he gets back to the safety of his home, he’s thinking, “Fuck, I should have talked to her. I didn’t even have to initiate the conversation. God I’m useless.” The next day, he’s like, “I’m over this. This is pathetic. I’m going to do it today.” He drives downtown to drop off some mail and parks his car in a metered spot. He notices that the driver of the car in front of him is searching for change in her pockets, then her purse, then in the car. He has a few spare quarters. He wants to offer a few to the woman in the other car. It’s a big step. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen. But he decides, “Fuck it, it’s now or never.” He gets out of his car. He walks closer to the other car. He hesitates. Then he plows on. “Excuse me? Do you need some change? I have a few spare quarters.” She looks up and says, “That would be great. Thank you so much. I’m already running late for a meeting and this is so helpful.” He gives her the quarters, walks back to his car, and sits down. He’s shaking. That whole interaction took all the balls he had in the world, but you know what? He feels AMAZING. He just did something he never thought he’d be able to do, and the whole world did not collapse. He’s conquered something in himself and this is empowering him to do something else. The next time he talks to a stranger, it won’t be as difficult, and he’ll get better and better at it.
You might not have social anxiety, but think about things that are a challenge for you. Push your limits. Set little goals for yourself, and remember, it’s okay to not get it right the first time, like the guy in the example. I don’t think you have to be extremely good at whatever you choose to do, but do something to further your goal. There are things about myself that I look back on and think, “I can’t believe I used to be like that.” One of these things was avoiding people whenever possible, from being anti-social and not liking attention. I used to walk through parking lots instead of sidewalks to get from route A to route B because there was a lesser chance of being seen. What the fuck, you ask. Yes, what the fuck is what I ask myself now too. I’m not like that anymore, and a lot more confident, and I can honestly say that having experiences has helped me to learn and grow as a person.
What kinds of experiences? All kinds. For instance, I never thought I’d be able to parallel park. I was convinced of this. After months of trying and trying, I finally got the hang of it. It was a torturous process, but now I have a skill that I can use whenever I need to. It wasn’t easy, but it felt so good to accomplish something that was difficult for me. Maybe you’re a good driver/parker, and don’t feel the need to walk in parking lots, but you’re not good with girls. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but we can also try and conquer or improve on our weaknesses. Like I said, you don’t have to be the best, but get yourself to a place where you feel okay with it. For this to happen, you need to do something for yourself that you think if very unlikely. Something you really want for yourself, but don’t believe you can do. If you are able to accomplish this, you will feel fucking fantastic. Not just at the task at hand, but overall in your life. Confidence will result. Confidence comes from different areas, but can spread around to all aspects of your life. Like, what the fuck does parking a car have to do with walking on sidewalks instead of parking lots? Nothing on the surface. But a lot internally. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll be able to feel yourself grow and change in a positive direction when you face things that cause you anxiety and/or think are difficult.
You know how people always say traveling is great for new experiences? So true. When you travel somewhere new, you are subjecting yourself to an experience that is probably pretty different from your day-to-day life. It’s a type of challenge to your status quo, even if you don’t register or think about it in that way. All this shit I’m saying follows the same concept. People who have traveled extensively often see the world in a different way from people who have lived somewhere their whole lives. Experiences change you.
People who fear change and growth will lose out on many things in life. Make changes in your life and see what happens