Trying to get an internship, as a socially anxious student, is like a turtle desperately trying to rip off its shell. Just so it can pretend to be the gregarious lions job industries demand.
But there are ways that people can gently peel off the shell and tuck it away safely for a couple of hours. And they don’t have to grow manes either.
The dreaded cold call. The neglected email. The broken promise that “they’ll be in touch”. The awkward phone call. The checklist – “team worker, social, outgoing” – should I pretend that I’m outgoing?
These are a list of fears (and some realities) that come with the drudgery of finding internships and jobs while socially anxious, shy or introverted. Although shyness, social anxiety and introversion aren’t interchangeable terms, people with these traits experience similar problems when embarking on the job and internship hunt.
Susan Cain, author of ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts’, gives a couple of tips on how to network as an introverted person. I find that this helps, too, in keeping my social anxiety in check during professional settings. Take a look (tips begin around 10:20):
A noteworthy tip to take from this is “The Power Of One And Rule Of Thumb For Networking” – instead of feeling pressured to work the room, find people you think you’ll connect with. Even if it’s only one. Susan calls these “kindred spirits”. Change your perspective into making networking right for you.
In the next post, I’ll be writing other strategies on this topic.
See you next time,
I’ve worked my butt off and animated a little intro video that gives a glimpse into what social anxiety is, and to give some inspiration to my fellow social anxiety/phobia sufferers. Check it out!
Comment below and let me know what you think.
“My hands were shaking. I was sweating so profusely, I could not move. I made it to my car and remember getting the keys in the ignition, cranking the car up, taking the back roads to my home and parking. I didn’t leave the house for six months.”
These are the words of Kim Basinger, an oscar award winning actress with social anxiety, agoraphobia and panic disorder. Surprising, huh?
Anxiety stops you from chasing your dreams. But she didn’t let that stop her. I want to share my experiences of social anxiety, the way it has interfered with my acting, and how I’ve tried to push past it. Ok, I’m no Kim Basinger, I know! But maybe it’ll inspire you to persevere through the fear and panic, the low self esteem, the anxiety, so you can do the same.
To read about it, check out my guest blog at Anxiety United, a social media network based on dealing with anxiety.
And happy world mental health day guys!
Till next time,
Posted by polarisabstract in Inspiration Tags: "social anxiety", anxiety, celebrities with social anxiety, coping, dreams, inspiration, kim basinger, low self esteem, resilience, world mental health day
“You’re too sensitive.”
“Why do you always stay inside?”
“It’s just a small thing. You’re overreacting.”
“What, are you going to cry again?”
Imagine this situation. You’re at a party. You’re alone. Everyone else is in their tightly clamped circles. They’re smiling and laughing, mentioning names you don’t know and places you haven’t been. They’re better than you. Quickly, you try to walk up to some people. You try to start a conversation, and as you talk, your brain rips into you. The anxiety tells you’re awkward, you’re awkward and you’ll be alone tonight. They don’t like you. Why did you say that for? You messed up royally. If you just stayed at home, you’d be able to watch Friends repeats instead of being trapped here.
And it doesn’t stop there. You’ve noticed that instead of concentrating on university work, you’re fixated on all the other students. It takes you an extra three hours to complete a simple task. All you want to do is sleep.
People might dismiss you as being overly dramatic and weak on the outside, when you open up to them for help. But on the inside, you’re strong.
It takes a lot to deal with a relentless self critic every day. And there’s a reason the social anxiety is so potent: you just want to get better socially. In a way, it’s like fighting for something you care about. Channel all that energy into beating the anxiety, instead. If you’ve put up with social anxiety thus far, you’ll have the determination to overcome it. Are you going to keep putting up with the crap anxiety gives you?
You should give yourself some credit!
Posted by polarisabstract in Stigma Tags: "social anxiety", anxiety, fear and panic, fight, frustration, low self esteem, mental health month, mental health stigma, resilience, self critic, self-esteem, sensitive, shyness, social anxiety in university, social phobia, Stigma, stopthestigma, strength, weakness
We’re often taught to actively eliminate anxiety and fear. But that activates a never-ending internal battle. It makes you despise social anxiety and situations which induce it. A constant feeling of dread whenever you feel symptoms of social anxiety is counter-productive. Instead, learn to be comfortable with fear, panic and anxiety.
Check out this video to learn more:
Last week I had to promote and give flyers out to random people at my university. I’d never done it before, so it triggered my social anxiety disorder.
I was scared that people would ignore me. They did. I was scared that people would walk around me. They did. I was scared that people would act mean. They did. (Well, just a couple were assholes). I stood in a corner, constantly looking at the time, half heartedly asking people if they could spare a second, and wishing my shift was over.
But after awhile, I got used to it. I made it a game to go up to people. I became used to the rejection and that made me more confident in getting people to listen. Some people were nice enough to stop and hear me out.
Try it yourself. Maybe you could force yourself to participate at least two times every tutorial or lecture in a week.
Hey there! I hope you’ve been fighting that anxiety!
Before I want to jump in to a coping strategy for this blog post, check out this familiar scene in Mean Girls:
That sort of crushing loneliness during lunchtime is familiar for a lot of people with Social Anxiety. For a solid year and a half in high school, life was like that for me too. I had thoughts running through my head, that I was worthless, that I’d never properly make friends, that I was ugly, and so forth.
Just like Cady in the end of that video, I’d hide somewhere out of sight because I believed people would think I was a loser.
Even though that’s a tough predicament I found myself in, those sorts of thoughts and beliefs were unhelpful. All that negativity in my head was preventing my situation from becoming better.
Pinpoint Unhelpful Beliefs
First recognise that unhelpful beliefs are those that aren’t realistic. Maybe you believe that you’re unlikable.
Such beliefs are driven by unhelpful thoughts (for example, that you think others are uncomfortable around you).
Challenge the belief
Ask yourself: is it rational? And above all – is it helpful?
In my case, I’d question the thought that I’d never properly make friends. Here are some things I rationalised:
- Socialising is a skill like any other. I will fail and I will get rejected a lot. But I’ll eventually get better.
- Opportunities never run out. If I didn’t try, I’d be friendless in the first place!
Then I’d think about if it was helpful (it wasn’t). Why do I need to let a thought like that give me crap then?
Give that stuff a go for a week. I know it’s going to be hard. But be kind to yourself.
Let me know how you go.
Until next time,
Posted by polarisabstract in Rational thinking Tags: "social anxiety", anxiety, challenge thoughts, self acceptance, social anxiety in colleg, social anxiety in university, unhelpful beliefs, unhelpful thoughts, unrealistic beliefs