I want to start this blog off by saying I am a psychologist who has provided countless hours of therapy for anxiety. Despite this, I am still impacted by social anxiety. I recently went to a networking event for women in psychology. It was at a coffee shop. I walk in the door and realize that I don’t even know who I am looking for since I do not know anyone planning on attending the event. I look around the coffee shop and see another woman kind of looking at me as if she is also looking for someone she doesn’t know. So I buy an iced chai latte and walk over towards her. Thankfully she asks “are you a psychologist?” before I have to ask her. Whew. She is super nice and we begin talking about what we do. I tell her about the client populations I work with, which are relationship issues/ couples counseling, trauma and PTSD, anxiety, and depression and that I do virtual therapy for clients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, and Mesa. She tells me about the clients she works with and we are having a fun conversation. Then she asks me if I am cold.
I realize she has asked me this, because my body language is so tense that my shoulders are at my ears. I was not being mindful of my anxiety and how it was impacting me. I wanted to make a good impression on my new friend and was second guessing everything I was saying and getting in my head. Once I realized how tense I was, I took a few deep breaths, relaxed my body, and said a few compassionate words to myself. This helped me relax a little. We carry on with the conversation. Then we realize that there are more women we are supposed to be meeting sitting outside so we pick up our things to go join them. I try to put the lid on my chai latte and the cup slides out from under me and hits the floor, spilling all over my brand new white shoes. At this point, they have brown spots all over them as the barista comes to clean up my mess and we go outside to meet four more women I have never met before with dirty shoes. I am mortified. I had to use so many skills to force myself to join the group and stay there. I also have to get out of my head and use my skills to not judge myself so that I can have a normal conversation with these lovely ladies.
I finally make it through the event. Thankfully.
Has something like this happened to you? Social anxiety often keeps us from doing things that are meaningful to us, such as meeting new friends or building new connections. Therapy can teach you skills to flourish in social situations even with anxiety. We all experience embarrassing social situations. These experiences do not define who we are. You can learn how to move forward from these situations and not stop you from continuing to be your authentic self and live your life to the fullest.