Personal / Psychiatry

Social Toughness

{Ventura, California}

I may be an extrovert, but I grew up struggling with social anxiety and still find myself battling it to this day (if this combination of extrovert/socially anxious sounds confusing, you can check out a post I wrote here).  I remember being in pre-school and the teacher reporting to my parents that I never talked (I was selectively mute, meaning I kept silent while at school but talked in other environments such as home), which made it hard to befriend other kids.  Therapy and pushing myself to be in uncomfortable settings (I took public speaking courses, ran for leadership office positions in high school even though I didn’t speak, and continue to be in group therapy which is extremely difficult for me) have helped me tolerate the anxiety, though I still get overwhelmed each time I go somewhere new or unfamiliar.

The first time I ever ate out at a sit-down restaurant alone was after working late as a post-graduate researcher at UC Davis.  I felt nervous and swore everyone was staring at me, but felt accomplished after finishing my meal and leaving the restaurant.  Even though I work part-time, I usually spend my off-days running errands, cleaning, blogging, catching up with paperwork, etc…most of the time staying at home in my comfort zone.  I try to plan solo outings every once in awhile to reinforce my copings skills, so this week, I decided to take a break and enjoy an outing alone for at least a few hours with no responsibility and no to-do list except to explore downtown Ventura.  I remember the fun days of residency when my friends and I would explore random towns in Oregon, though I hardly get the opportunity to do the same since moving back to southern California (showing friends around Hollywood and all the LA touristy spots doesn’t count).

I’ve had several patients whom I’ve helped work through their symptoms of social anxiety and it’s always rewarding to hear them tell me about their recent outings.  So here’s a few pictures that I took from my solo outing this week:

{Shopping for a good cause}

{windy Ventura Pier selfie}

Thought of the Day:  If you struggle with anxiety, which techniques have you found helpful to overcome it?

11 thoughts on “Social Toughness

  1. I think this is related…2 things have pushed me into deeper waters.., three things actually, I took a weekend workshop @ a local community college on assertive communication Best $45 I have ever spent…EVER! We did lots of roll playing,lots of laughing (10 woman and 2 of us guys, all shy/ socially challenged types who started to find our voices..) Second, thing has been to be self employed, which has forced me into all sorts of situations I would NEVER gravitate to, if left to myself…And third was signing up for something in a local church setting where I was forced to help out,couple of times a month in front of a couple of hundred people, and during those times, there were a lot of eyes on me..think I had mini panic attacks every time I did it..but gradually, I have made some good growth in this area. I still love, alone time, working in my apple orchard or reading a book, but I am not the same person I was when I graduated high school. It is possible to change..

    • hi DM! thank u for sharing! being in group settings and working through the anxiety is definitely one of the best ways to work through it effectively and in a safe environment before testing it out in front of hundreds of people (yikes!). And yes, it most definitely is possible to change 🙂

  2. I suffer with social anxiety, so this post definitely spoke to me!

    I’m proud of you for forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. Loved the Ventura shots!

    Some people think I’m an extrovert as I founded the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) of Santa Cruz County, I facilitate support groups for women & promote them. I’ve been interviewed on live television, live radio and interviewed/photographed for newspaper articles. *Still* I suffer with SA! I’m working on it! Sigh. 😉

    I’m off to check out the post at the other link you provided, as I’m curious about the extrovert angle.

    Thanks for writing about these topics, and for being honest and insightful.
    As always, you rock!

    • Wow, I can see how people would assume u don’t struggle with social anxiety…that’s a lot of PR! Sounds like u push yourself for the sake of a good cause and makes it totally worth it, which seems more characteristic of u and who you are (supporting others and bringing them together) more so than the social anxiety itself.

  3. As one who was plagued by anxiety for quite a while, I can relate. I have no particular techniques, but I can pass along the advice of a wise friend of mine, who says “Take baby steps.” Oh wait, that’s you who says that. Take care, and look forward to seeing more pics of you getting out and about. 🙂

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