overcome social anxiety

Overcome Social Anxiety with These 3 Tips

Making friends is hard, especially as an adult, after college, with a spouse. It’s like the friendship gods are against everyone who crests the ripe old age of 25. Trying to overcome social anxiety on top of it is even worse. The other day I literally sprinted out of church after service ended to avoid small talk with someone I ALREADY KNOW. Pitiful.

This kind of reaction can be crippling when you’re trying to make friends… or simply exist in normal society. So how can we overcome social anxiety? I’ve got a few ideas:

3 Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety

Don’t Over-Socialize

This one could be under the Preventative Care category. My first job post-college was working for an organization on the University of Tennessee’s campus. I lived in the student housing as the resident intern and was expected to be “on” every hour of the day and night. I had to go to all the events, call/text students to see how they were/where they were/if they were coming to the next event/why they missed the last event. Bleh. My door was always open. I had no privacy and no time to recharge from the constant exertion of mitigating and mediating student drama.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved some of those students and made some great friends. But, as an introvert, the job itself was toxic for me. Instead of the constant socialization forcing me to be “stronger,” it increased my anxieties ten-fold.

In order to overcome social anxiety, we have to find a nice middle way. If you over-socialize you may scar yourself. Instead, exercise your right as a human being to say no. You don’t have to have an excuse. You can just say no.

Hey, do you want to go to this trivia night with me? No

Well, how about just a restaurant? No

We can go to a movie, we won’t even have to talk. NO DAMMIT!

But don’t under-socialize either or you’ll never grow from the spot you’re in now. Say no when you need to. Say yes when you need to.

overcome social anxiety

Don’t Do Something Just Because You Want to Be a Better You

This sounds a little counter-intuitive. We’ve been taught since we were children to get out of your comfort zone and do something that scares you because it makes you a better person. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Well, I’m not convinced.

By no means do I think you should never push yourself. I think healthy and ongoing progress in personal development is good. BUT God made more than one type of person for a reason.

There are introverts in the world. There are extroverts in the world. They each fulfill a totally different purpose and each is necessary. I don’t have to be an extrovert to benefit those around me. I don’t have to push myself to be something I’m not. I don’t have to grind myself to a pulp trying to make every person that walks through the door feel welcome. That’s what the extroverts are for.

That’s why we work in teams. That’s why we have friends and spouses. Are you insensitive? That’s ok. Someone out there is sensitive enough for the both of you. Are you thoughtless? It’s alright. Make friends with a thoughtful person and ride on their coattails. (Literally, I’m just naming things that I am: intensive, thoughtless, introverted.)

I’m not saying you should ignore all your faults and become a heathen. I’m just saying don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve been working since I was 16 to be this person I am today, and I’m happy to say I’m the nicest version of myself I’ve ever been. Yet, I still have a long way to go. If your parent literally dies, I’m probably going to walk right past you without remembering. I most likely won’t remember your birthday. I definitely won’t buy you Christmas gifts. I won’t ask you how your week has been. None of this means I hate you. I love you. I’m just not thinking about those things. I’m thoughtless when it comes to niceties.

Should you continue to work to be the best you you can be? Sure! Should you do it at the expense of your essential self, your stability, and contentment. NEVER! Remember your strengths and play to them. Acknowledge your faults, and work on them at your own pace.

Use the Buddy System

But what if you really do want to overcome social anxiety? You don’t want to become an extrovert, you just don’t want to sprint from a room every time you encounter an awkward situation.

Use the buddy system. It’s my newest trick to meeting new people without sweating through all my church clothes.

There is a lady at my church name Sally, and she is an introvert like me. Last year she made a promise to herself that she was going to at least try to talk to new people who visit our church. She took one very simple step that has made it easier (and less awkward) for her: she started sitting in the back of the church. This way, she can see everyone who comes in and she can tell who is new and who isn’t. Plus, she can see who is sitting by themselves or looks like they have no idea what’s going on. (Our church is liturgical, so it’s helpful to have a kind soul simply point you in the right direction at the beginning of the service.)

Anyway. Sally also got her husband to commit to at least standing next to her when she approached a new person. He’s an introvert too, but just his presence made it a little bit easier.

A year later, Sally is like a straight-up pro at this. She flits all over the church meeting new people. Is she still scared out of her mind? Yep. Does she still get nervous? Definitely. But she has become a better person for it. And, if she has a morning where she just can’t handle the pressure, she can take a break that week. It’s ok. There is space for grace in all of this.

SO, this year, I promised myself that I’m going to talk to more new people. And I’m going to make Sally my buddy. Just last week, I sat next to her for a change, and I talked to SIX NEW PEOPLE without running desperately from the church!

I was so incredibly proud of myself. My friend (who’s a 9 on the Enneagram if that means anything to you) gave me a high five and congratulated me. My husband (who’s a 1 on the Enneagram if that means anything to you), reminded me it was because those new people just happened to sit all around me, so I technically didn’t have to try… SO WHAT? I still talked to them, thank you very much.

You can do this too. Get a buddy to go with you when trying to meet new people. Take a friend to your yoga class. Go with a friend to that Harry Potter trivia night (this is actually happening at my local Barnes and Noble this weekend, but I’m not going… alas). Friends you already have can help take the pressure off when meeting new people. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to overcome social anxiety? What are they? Let me know in the comments.


Two more things to remember if you think you'll never get married

More Things to Remember if You Think You’ll Never Get Married

Whatever it is, you name it, and people are worried it will stop them from ever being loved and they’re sure they’ll never get married.

In the last few months, I’ve gotten comments, emails, and subscribers because of a post I wrote last year about being afraid you’ll never get married. (If you haven’t read it, you should check it out before reading this one), so I wanted to address the main concern people who think they’ll never get married have been sharing with me.

Continue reading “More Things to Remember if You Think You’ll Never Get Married”

What Weirdos and Children Have in Common | Be Yourself | Know Yourself | Stop Trying to Find Yourself | Love Yourself | Let Go | Be who you always were

Choosing to Be Yourself: How Children and Weirdos are Simliar

Be Yourself: Three Brief Stories

Children’s Choirs

The church I work for has a million children’s choirs. One for every age group. And every semester of the school year, the choirs put on a show for their parents and families.

I was present at the last one taking pictures for our Facebook page.

They started with the youngest choir –  the 2-3 years olds. Those kids were absolutely adorable. The pictures of them are downright cute. They were laughing and smiling and waving and giving thumbs up to their parents. They jumped up and down as they sang.

Gosh, it was cute.

Then the 3-5 year olds sang and it was much of the same.

Then 1st grade sang. Then 2nd grade. Then 3rd grade.

And as the choirs transitioned to older groups of children, I noticed something almost heartbreaking.

All the pictures I captured of grade school children are boring. The children stood stoic and unmoving. They didn’t laugh. They didn’t wave. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades would smile periodically. But the middle schoolers? They were like statues with moving mouths. Continue reading “Choosing to Be Yourself: How Children and Weirdos are Simliar”

Feeling emotional craziness is part of every life and every person. It's normal to have a moment where you are just completely irrational. The thing is, we have to be able to harness that crazy and not let it control us. We must use that fire inside to make us better. To fuel our passions. To learn from ourselves. To know ourselves.

This Too Shall Pass: A Normal Girl’s Confession about Feeling Crazy

Recently I was driving home from work and I was freaking out.

When I left the building, I thought I was in a good mood. But about five minutes into the drive I was on the verge of tears and it just got worse from there.

By the time I got home, I was raging quietly about all the injustices in the world, but specifically the injustices of my work pertaining only to me personally. Who cared about anyone else’s serious, real life issues. My coworker is an ass. What an injustice!

Anyway. It happened to be my husband birthday, so we went to one of his favorite restaurants for dinner. I was in a mood the whole time and I almost cried over my Pizza Rockefeller. Continue reading “This Too Shall Pass: A Normal Girl’s Confession about Feeling Crazy”

Better yourself by asking one question: What kind of person do you want to be? By asking yourself this whenever you are choosing between what is easy and what is right, you can truly learn how to be a better you.

How to be the Kind of Person You Want to Be

For Sweet’s Sake

If you’ve been with Wholly Unimpressive for any length of time, you may have noticed my love for every food that is bad for me. Refer to my cake post if you think I’m exaggerating.

The point is I just really love sweets. And what makes it worse is I also hate food that is good for me. I’m like Kevin on the office when Michael is trying to force him to eat a head of raw broccoli. He’s basically crying bc he hates it so much. I feel you Kev. I hate it so much too.

I was grocery shopping with my husband yesterday and we were walking through the produce section. Literally, I was cringing at the thought of eating strawberries or apples. Bleh. Please, God, don’t make me do it.

Why can’t I just thrive off Reese’s cups and be rail thin and horse healthy all at the same time?

Unfortunately for me, life doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately for all of us, we sometimes have to choose to do the things we don’t want to do in order to see change.  Continue reading “How to be the Kind of Person You Want to Be”

4 Character Traits of the Victim Mindset | victim mindset | minorities | black and white | women’s rights | equality | radical responsibility

The Victim Mindset: When Minorities Attack

Surprise! I’m a black woman. I am two minorities mixed into one. Actually, I’m three. I’m a mixed woman, which is a whole different animal.

Why am I telling you this?

Well I’ve been thinking about feminism and minorities lately, and I have a few things to say specifically to the feminists and minorities:

  1. Feminism has gone a step too far. In an attempt to secure equality, women have swung the pendulum so hard that it’s suddenly acceptable for women to be bitchy, hurtful people. They can say whatever they want about men, treat their own bodies like objects and violently riot in the name of equality. It’s not cool.
  2. Minorities (including women) are so concerned about being treated equally that they think everyone is out to get them. Your boss looks at you sideways and he’s declared to be a sexist, racist asshole. Your neighbor doesn’t laugh at your joke and it’s clearly because she hates black people.
  3. Being a victim is a state of mind. A lot of women and other minorities are victims because they choose to be victims. They are victims of verbal abuse. They are victims of hate. Victims of sexism, racism, prejudice. They can’t get ahead. It’s always because they’re a woman. It’s always because their black. It’s always because their Hispanic. You see what I’m getting at?

Ok, so now that I’ve stepped on everyone’s toes…. Let me say one more thing. Continue reading “The Victim Mindset: When Minorities Attack”

Can’t I Just Blame My Problems on Hormones (an Overtly Religious Post about Church Culture and Adolescent Turmoil.) | Teenagers are a little crazy. American church is a little crazy. Put them together and you might have a great excuse for a practically psycho young person. I truly found God when I stopped trying to be a good Christian and just followed the path of love – loving myself, loving others and loving God.

Why I Quit Trying to be a Good Christian

(an overtly religious post about church culture and the adolescent turmoil)

I was driving into work the other day and I had a sort of mundane epiphany.

(Now for all of you non-religious readers, you may want to turn away now. Or, you may want to see what I have to say. I am NOT going to get crazy or anything.)

I realized that I believe in God. (I’m not to the epiphany yet.)

Kind of weird I know. It’s not that I’ve never believed in God, because, actually, I always have. But I just realized that I really do believe. Like, I can’t separate myself from that belief.

In the same moment, I realized (here is the epiphany) I don’t have any doubts about God.

So when I say “God,” I’m talking about the whole Christian spiel: Jesus, miraculously born of a virgin and dying on a cross to save the world because he loves us. I have literally no doubts about it.

God loves me. God loves you. Jesus was real. What he did really happened. (I’m kinda making myself itchy just writing these things because I really don’t like religious jargon or flowery spirituality, but there comes a point when you just have to rest in who you are.)

Let me explain why this was an epiphany and a mundane one at that. Continue reading “Why I Quit Trying to be a Good Christian”

Perfectionism: The Silent Killer | for The Gratefulist

Have you ever struggled with perfectionism?

I certainly have.

It’s kinda funny, last week this lady at work was getting on to me because apparently, I don’t pay enough attention to detail. I’m always misspelling something or leaving off an important person from an email or something like that.

It bothers her that I’m not perfect.

And what she doesn’t know is it bothers me too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not super detail oriented when it comes to things that are not high on my priority list. I kinda have a no-big-deal attitude. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing… but whatever.

BUT when it comes to something I’m creating (painting, writing, singing, designing), it needs to be perfect. I have this idea that if I create something haphazardly, then it reflects poorly on me. So I’m quite particular, and things end up taking me ten times longer than they should to complete.

Anyway, what I’m getting as is, perfectionism kinda crushes our human spirit. It certainly doesn’t lead to contentment. If anything, it leads to just the opposite. Continue reading “Perfectionism: The Silent Killer | for The Gratefulist”

Contentment Is Not Complacent | Everyday I write about being fully present and finding contentment right where you are. But I also think one way to find contentment is to look to the future. Look ahead just a little and plan just a little. Because after all, the future becomes the present and if we are at least a little bit aware of what’s going to happen, we can make it as beautiful as possible. We can make today count by looking to tomorrow. Wouldn’t you know I learned all that from my piano professor in college while playing Kabalevsky.

Why You Should Live In the Moment But Also Look Ahead

I Don’t Play Piano.

Ok, I do play piano, but I’m way below average. However, I had a one-year-long period where I was only slightly below average. That’s what this post is about.

As a senior in college, I had finished all required classes for my major, so I decided to take on a minor in music. I thought, oh I can carry a tune, I like Rhianna. Why not make this my minor.

Silly girl.

Music Is Not Easy

Music is not easy. And music theory is a language of torture. I cried many a time while building minor chords and identifying deceptive cadences.

I even took it a step further and chose my concentration as piano. The only thing is, I don’t play piano. Well, I do but I’m way below average. So…

My first day of piano lessons, my professor scared the living daylights out of me. She said, “You have one week to learn bass clef. I expect you to have it down when you come to class next whatever-day-it-was.” I almost passed out. Continue reading “Why You Should Live In the Moment But Also Look Ahead”

3 Things to Remember if You Think You’ll Never Get Married | So many women think they’re never getting married. We think we aren’t good enough and that no one will love us for who we are. Often, we cover up our desire for companionship by blasting our female power and pushing men away. I think feminism is healthy, and I think being single and singleness in general is fantastic, BUT many women want covenant companionships and become depressed when they don’t have them. So click through for three things to help you feel better when you start lamenting that you are a single girl.

3 Things to Remember if You Think You’ll Never Get Married

From a very young age, I was sure I’d never get married. (Spoiler, I’m married).

I think I was about 13 when I decided I was going to travel the world, help people and stay single like some kind of millennial Mother Theresa. I genuinely thought it was my destiny to be alone.

In middle school, I actually had this moment where I fell to my bedroom floor and wept because I “realized” I would never get married. Gosh, I was dramatic.

I carried it around with me like a trophy. In a chaste, proud manner, I would tell people I wasn’t meant to get married. I was meant to be an independent woman warrior for Jesus.

Let me tell you all something I don’t have time for these days: independent women warriors – Jesus or no Jesus. Continue reading “3 Things to Remember if You Think You’ll Never Get Married”