I have secluded myself inside of a “bubble” my entire life. At first, this played into being an introvert. Not being a strong verbal communicator made me uncomfortable in group settings. I never knew what to say until the moment was already over. Then, it progressed, and I developed anxiety from simply talking on the phone to make a doctor’s appointment. I had to write a script of what to say before I made any phone calls. Before texting someone back, I would retype a simple sentence dozens of times, with each try sounding worse and worse until, eventually, I began ignoring everyone. I allowed my social life to become non-existent. I fed into my discomfort of speaking to anyone that it drove me to develop social anxiety. Instead, I should have broken out of my shell and talked, no matter the outcome, or even put myself into the position of listening to others communicating.
The condition that I have is prevalent, and it is called Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as SAD. This disorder is typically caused by a life fueled by social isolation, bullying, abuse, and how a person is raised during their childhood. A social phobia of constantly being judged or put in a negative light is draining.
For a long time, I allowed SAD to run my life to the point I thought I could never gain control. I thought there was no longer a chance for normality. There was no turning back time, and the future looked grim and lonely. I was right about one thing – I couldn’t turn back time. However, I could return to a less anxious, more normal social individual. I changed. I left the comfort zone I imprisoned myself in for years. I took risks, and I started to put myself out in the world finally. A considerable part of this was also self-love. I stopped wholeheartedly caring what people thought of me. I still care, but not to the point it consumes my every move.
Here are a few ways you can stop living a SAD life:
- Take situations and events one step at a time. Don’t dive into the deep end where you become too anxious and reluctant to try again. It takes practice—mentally—to be ready for extensive social interactions. Start small and grow little by little. It is important to remember to be present in life and not allow social opportunities to escape you. Life is about memories, so get on out there and make them!
- Don’t allow yourself to overthink. Focus on what the person is saying and not what is raging within your head. Don’t be too concerned with yourself and allow yourself to let loose.
- Make the best of any situation you’re in! If you feel your anxiety creeping up, then take a deep breath and focus on your senses. Get your groundings back, have fun, and don’t worry! You are not always going to say the right things at the right times. Some situations won’t always end well, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t still make it a positive experience! Learn from these events and see the silver linings for next time.
I still get anxious in social settings, but I never stop putting myself out there, and neither should you!