How I Conquered My Social Anxiety
Written by: Jill Smart
I will share with you that I was painfully shy as a child – having to speak to anyone new was crippling for me. I grew up hearing my mother tell everyone how shy I was. That label stuck with me for much of my young life, but I vowed to move past it and conquer my fear of talking to others. It wasn’t easy, but I succeeded and my life was fuller because of it.
Little did I know that I would have this issue resurface again later in my life.
Two years ago when I injured my knee and was confined to my home, I began to find myself on the path to social isolation once again. As I struggled to heal my knee, I was becoming comfortable with my anti-social prison. My only outside contact was physical therapy three times a week.
There was no socialization going on and it was easier to remain in this comfortable zone. I had found an online world where I could safely have virtual friends who were involved in my life without actually having to make the effort to see them. I began seeking counseling for my failing marriage and, in that process, learned much about myself.
When the time came where I had mustered the internal strength and gumption to change my situation, I found myself in a territory I had not experienced in many years. I was leaving my comfortable life for a brand new start in San Diego, California. I was making a move across the country to a place where I had no family or close friends and only future co-workers who knew little to nothing about me and my life.
The initial move kept me busy with getting settled in, but 2 months after arriving to sunny San Diego, I realized I was still isolated, just as I had been in Wisconsin. I was working from home and was rarely leaving the safety of my apartment. I was using the excuse that I didn’t know where things were.
It was at this point that I realized it was time to step out of my comfort zone and get uncomfortable in order to create a new life.
First Things First
I began counseling with my therapist once again, meeting virtually and discussing what I needed to do to step beyond what was holding me prisoner in my own life. For years I had internalized my fear and anxiety, not allowing myself to feel it. Unable to imagine how painful it would be to experience those feelings, I had this awful habit of stuffing things down and ignoring them. They would just fester in there until they got so built up, they had to be released, which oftentimes was in the form of an emotional meltdown.
I knew I had to allow myself to start feeling what was going on. I had to allow those feelings to surface and experience them, no matter how bad it felt. I found myself sobbing for hours – over what, I wasn’t really sure – but I was letting that emotion out, fully feeling it and releasing it.
Getting Comfortable With Being Alone
In my first month here, I was never alone; I had family and close friends with me. When the last visitor was gone and the flurry of activity stopped, I panicked. I hadn’t been alone in 22 years. What was I supposed to do now?
The loneliness hit me like a brick wall. Not sure what to do, I consulted my therapist who told me to embrace this time and get to know myself again. A while before this, I had ceased my daily meditation along with my journaling and gratitude practice.
When I started these back up again and embraced their purpose in my life, things began to change. The loneliness turned into comfortable alone time. It was time in my day that felt decadent and enriching. I was learning about myself and loving myself fully.
Addressing My Bucket List
For years, I had been adding items to my bucket list, fully intending to accomplish them one day. I never really knew when that day would come until it actually arrived. In loving myself, I started to examine that list, wondering why I wasn’t doing the things that I yearned to try.
Prior to loving myself, I believe now that my bucket list was more of a “when I get the courage to try this” or “when I find someone to do this with me” list rather than a list of things I felt passionate about. At that moment, I made the decision to pick one thing from that list and just do it, even if I had to do it feeling scared.
The most amazing thing happened when I actually signed up for my first two-step class – there was no fear or anxiety. I embraced my true passion and everything came together; I felt confident in my decision. Even upon arriving to a new place, dancing with people I had never before met, I was relaxed and confident.
Get Out And Explore
Arriving and settling into a new city could have been incredibly intimidating, causing tremendous stress and anxiety. I will admit that I did have some anxiety, but I quickly learned to accept that and relax my expectations on myself. After all, why would I know where the grocery store was or the bank? I was new here, it was perfectly okay for me not to have all the answers.
When I gave myself permission to be an explorer in my new surroundings, it took so much pressure off me. I allowed myself to go out and get lost, just to find where things were located. Learning to embrace all the wonders and excitement my new city held, I began to see how wonderful it could be to get out, just have fun and enjoy life! It felt so much like the equivalent of when I was a child and my mom said, “go out and play.” I was now giving myself the ability to go outside and play!
Take Responsibility For Making Your New Life
This final lesson was the most amazing of all the lessons I have learned so far on this adventure. If I am dedicated to making a fresh start and a brand new life for myself, then I have to be willing to take the responsibility for making it happen. The key piece to making a successful, new and exciting life for myself is to get out of my own way!
Amazing people you hear and read about don’t just happen; it is the result of people deciding to take charge of their lives and making them incredible. Fear and resistance will always be there if you let them be. We each have the ability to lead an amazing life and I am taking hold of mine. Are you ready to take hold of yours?
Jill Smart RN, BSN is a Certified Fitlife.tv Transformation Coach, with over 21 years of nursing experience. She is also a former Jazzercise Instructor.
Jill joined Fitlife.tv in October 2013 after a significant weight gain from a knee injury. She began Fitlife Small Group Coaching program in February 2014 and to date has lost over 80 pounds! Her passion for helping people allows her to assist clients who are ready to transform their nutritional and mindset habits.
Jill believes it is her mission to contribute to a greater cause and you will find her leading by example. If you are looking for someone that wants to help by making the most impact possible, you can connect with her.
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