If you don’t know me from anywhere but here, you might not know I deal with anxiety on a day to day basis. I don’t ever intend to go deep into my own mind here, I have other places where I explore the deeper parts of my psyche, but I did want to share an experience I had, and a great article I read.
Road Runner Sports Adventure Run is a FREE, 60-minute scavenger-like fun run filled with hundreds of friends, giveaways, raffle prizes, music and free beer*. (* our location served root beer floats, which in my opinion are far superior to regular beer!)
Before the run, you walk around and talk to all the sponsors. Most people who know me would say I lean more extroverted, but that doesn’t mean talking to people always comes easily. For people like me who suffer from mild social anxiety, talking to strangers, particularly strangers who are selling a product, can be terrifying! But, in order to get extra tickets for the raffle, you have to talk to them. Period. So I took a deep breath, walked over to a table, and pretended I wasn’t ridiculously intimidated by this good looking, fit guy who was there to represent a mud run event. I got a flyer, he told me about a discount code, and I realized as we talked for a minute that he was more intimidated by me than I was by him! This relaxed me a bit, and I moved on to the next table, a Crossfit Box. I attached onto a group of people in front of me and eavesdropped. Someone asked when the classes were held, and I heard the first class was at 5:30 am, so when I stepped up to the table, I had a conversation starter, and it went smoothly! The rest of the tables were much of the same.
I had inadvertently stumbled upon a coping strategy for my social anxiety. (My generalized anxiety is another story, but I’m working on it.) And this morning, while researching this very phenomenon, I came across an article I really connected with.
We all lose confidence and feel insecure every now and then. We all struggle with feeling like an outsider, or not feeling good enough to engage in conversation. Even the person who seems uber confident all the time has moments of self doubt. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. But how do you deal with it when it happens?
We’ve all heard the phrase before. But it really does work. If you want to feel confident, act confident. Stand tall, shoulders back. Smile. Be assertive. Take up space. I opened up the conversation by asking a question, and it made the conversation flow more easily. Is it easy? No, but as you continue to act like this, it gets easier. Ask questions, start sharing something about yourself without expecting a reaction. Introduce yourself!
Remember that Positivity Project mirror I posted a tutorial for a couple months back? Make yourself one. Look in the mirror and see yourself surrounded by all these positive words. Look yourself in the eye and tell yourself that you are brave, strong, and that you can accomplish anything, even if you don’t believe it.
Remember Your Clean Slate
If you’re meeting a large group of new people, remind yourself that THEY DON’T KNOW YOU EITHER. They have no pre-judgments, no expectations of your behavior. If they assume anything about you before you speak to them, they have no basis on fact for their assumptions. You are a blank canvas to them, and it’s up to you to paint the picture.
Will this solve all your problems? Not remotely. But it’s a start. And you can’t make new friends if you don’t walk to people, right?