Does social anxiety disorder keep you from going out with friends, joining clubs, or working out at the gym? Does it limit what kind of jobs you apply for, or perhaps keep you from leaving a job you hate because you are fearful of facing the challenge of finding a new one?
Does social anxiety stop you from going out on dates or accepting invitations to parties? Does it make you over-dependent on your family and unable to make friends? Does it keep you from taking a trip, or even walks in your neighborhood?
I know that social anxiety often keeps me in the house when I might otherwise go for a walk. I have less anxiety when my husband, Adrian, goes with me, so I postpone walking until he can join me. Anxiety is often the silent manager of my life"”a manager I would like to fire.
The things that make me most anxious are public performances, yet I have given speeches and talks and public readings throughout my life. Each time there has been a tremendous cost in anxiety and lost sleep, but I felt the cost was worth it. I didn’t want to stop my life and refuse an opportunity when it appeared.
We can’t always prevent social anxiety, but we can decide how much control it will have over our lives. We need to figure out what’s really important to us, and then go for it.
What helped me get through these times is thorough preparation. I would practice and practice before the event, so that even if I was nervous, my performance would come automatically and appear polished.
I also applied for jobs that seemed frightening at first, like teaching at a university. I went through plenty of anxiety before the first day, but I found that the next day, and each day after that, the anxiety lessened.
Is there something you really want to do, like going back to school or applying for a job you think you would love? Don’t let anxiety stop you. Make a plan. Prepare thoroughly. Put supports in place, like practicing an interview with a friend or family member. And then go for it. You’ll feel much better about yourself if you don’t let anxiety keep you from doing the things you really want to do.