Every time I write about it, fear rises, and my heart starts to pound. But one of the things that helped me overcome it is simply talking about the fear itself – so let’s talk about it.
As a digital nomad and entrepreneur, I know that social anxiety can be a huge obstacle. It’s not easy to network, pitch your business idea, or attend events where you don’t know anyone. But in order to succeed, we have to face our fears and learn how to manage them.
I’m writing this article hoping to help those who live with social anxiety. Although we may experience the experience in different ways, the emotional struggles we experience may be similar. So are the dreams we deeply dream.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive and disproportionate fear of a social situation or performing a social action, such as speaking in public, eating in public, or connecting with new people.
People with social anxiety fear that if they behave inappropriately, they will be humiliated or rejected by others. This fear causes them to avoid social situations, which can affect their functioning in various areas of life, such as work, education, and personal relationships.
To know more about social anxiety disorder, check this post.
My Unofficial definition:
Social anxiety is more than being shy.
It’s being hyper-aware of what others think of you.
It’s entering a social gathering, thinking everyone is watching your every move and listening to every word that comes out of your mouth.
It’s feeling uncomfortable in your skin and worrying that others might think you’re too strange, embarrassing, or dull.
It’s being on edge all the time not to make a mistake.
- “Just don’t let them see my flaws.”
- “They’ll think I’m stupid.”
- “They’ll think I’m weird.”
- “I’m not good enough.”
How does it manifest in the body?
- Increased heart rate.
- Sweaty palms.
- Shortness of breath.
Social anxiety is a spectrum.
Everyone experiences social anxiety differently, and it manifests in various ways.
When I volunteered at a social anxiety organization in Israel, I got a close look at the spectrum.
From a child who avoids speaking with people altogether to a child afraid to make eye contact.
How it affected me:
- Avoiding self-promotion.
- Avoiding small talks. (but not everyone’s a fan of small talk, so you may wear this as a badge of honor instead).
- Thinking 15 times before I respond to a Facebook post, and sometimes refraining.
- Avoiding expressing myself.
- Missing out on networking opportunities.
- Avoiding events or skipping them after I got there.
- Avoiding interactions and discussions.
- When you’re in a state of fear, the creative side can’t come to fruition. As a result, there’s difficulty in thinking of new ideas.
The effects of social anxiety on businesses in general:
- Avoidance of exposure.
- Not marketing yourself.
- Difficulty establishing relationships with potential clients and partners.
- Lack of confidence in dealing with colleagues and clients.
- Low quality of work due to low self-esteem and fear of failure.
What helps me to handle the anxiety
Remembering the purpose: When you work towards an important goal, you’re connected to why you’re doing what you’re doing. This can help dispel any fear or anxiety.
In my case, my purpose is to help business owners who want to help people. This is an important purpose for me, and before an action aimed at promoting myself and accompanied by fear comes, I try to remind myself of this purpose.
The cost of loss is not worth it: Before taking an action aimed at promoting myself and overshadowed by fear, I ask myself what I am losing.
– What am I losing if I don’t publish that post?
– What am I losing if I don’t express my opinion in a discussion?
– What am I losing if I don’t upload the video I shot?
The answers can range from losing potential customers, losing money, not expressing myself, and even not fulfilling myself.
I’m sorry, the cost of loss is not worth it.
Environment: I distanced myself from toxic people and created a supportive environment for myself, an environment of entrepreneurs and business owners who face similar challenges.
This digital nomad blog: The blog created a safe space for me where I can express myself naturally without fear of what others will say or think.
Compared to social media, where I felt I was constantly exposed to criticism, in my blog, there’s no comment system, making it easier for me to create content without fear and giving me a safe space to learn to create content.
Assumptions: Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen. When you really think about it, the worst thing isn’t that terrible. People might not like your content or may not agree with you, but that’s okay. Not everyone will resonate with what you have to say, and that’s completely normal.
Practice makes perfect: The more I put myself out there and face my fears, the easier it becomes. It’s important to remember that progress is not linear; some days will be harder than others, and that’s okay. The most important thing is to keep pushing forward and not let fear hold you back from achieving your goals.
Related: How to balance mental health.
Help others: Helping others who struggle with social anxiety (like writing this article) has also been a great way for me to cope and connect with others who understand.
Social anxiety is still knocking on my door. But when it comes, I try to be aware and not let it prevail.
I hope that sharing my experience will help others who are struggling with social anxiety. Remember, you are not alone in this, and there is nothing wrong with seeking help or talking about your struggles. In fact, it takes strength to open up and ask for support. So don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, or even a professional therapist.
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