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Living with Social Anxiety Disorder

On Friday I was given the task of doing some research on a virtual event platform. I work full-time as an event coordinator and as a result of the COVID-19 we’ve had to cancel our in-person meetings and move to a virtual platform instead. I did the research and event created a PowerPoint and made sure I was prepared when it was my turn to talk. As the time got closer to our Zoom call that afternoon I felt myself getting overwhelmed with the thought of having to talk in front of my co-workers. It wasn’t that I wasn’t prepared, but whenever the spotlight is on me, my mind completely shuts down… and that’s what happened.

I did my best. My voice was shaking and I couldn’t even read the notes the wrote. I probably said 5% of what I planned to. After I finished, I couldn’t even focus on what else was being said the rest of the meeting. I kept thinking, “why am I like this?” I wondered about what everyone else was thinking of me, how I looked… “do they think I’m stupid?” I felt defeated. The call ended and one of my co-workers called me. I immediately thought she was calling to talk about the horrible attempt of a presentation I gave, but she didn’t. She called about something else and didn’t even notice that I had a complete meltdown in my mind during our video conference. I even told her I thought she was calling about my presentation and she said “what do you mean?”

I realized that even though my presentation didn’t go the way I hoped, people weren’t pointing and laughing, everything was okay, and next time will be a little better. This isn’t the first time I’ve beaten myself up after leaving a social situation. Every time I do, I go through the same process. “Did I sound stupid?.. Do they think I’m weird? Did I make eye contact once at least?” Sometimes living with social anxiety disorder is debilitating, especially in my personal life. For years, I avoided social gatherings, even with friends. I always felt out of place. I could never feel comfortable in a group unless I was drinking. But, that’s no way to live.

Better Days Coming

Since Friday, I decided to become more proactive about conquering my social anxiety in every way I can. I do believe that starting this blog is a step. Talking about this here is a huge step for me. In addition to my blog, I will be journal everyday, saying “yes” to more social gatherings (when it’s safe) and challenging myself more. I do have a doctor for anxiety and depression, but I’m ready to really start putting in work.

I’ve lived with anxiety since I was a child, but for some reason, Friday was my breaking point. That person I become when eyes are on me just doesn’t match the life I want to live. I have too much too share to be silent forever. I’m on a road to a brand new life and I’m excited.

Living with social anxiety disorder can feel overwhelming, embarrassing and it can impact every aspect of your life. It’s important to know that you are not alone and it can get better. Also, remember how we feel about ourselves is not what everyone else sees. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

If you are living with social anxiety, I would love to hear from you! How has it impacted your work/personal life? Do you feel like you are making progress? If so, how? Please comment below or contact me here. Thanks for reading.

Here is a social anxiety quiz

Overcoming social anxiety step-by-step

Therapy for how we live today

Social anxiety activities to get better

How to be yourself

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