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How I Overcame Social Anxiety and Gained Independence

For the majority of my life, I’ve felt like I have been in a boxing match with my anxiety and depression, constantly ducking, dodging, and trying to run away. Rarely have I had the guts to square up and face my fears. I’m not shy, but I am introverted. I love talking to people, but the act of approaching people terrifies me. I’m constantly afraid of rejection, or people thinking I’m weird, which I admittedly am. I over think and psych myself out of damn near everything.This summer was different, though. I’m not really sure what sparked the change. I guess I just woke up and decided enough was enough. At some point you have to take control of your own life. 

It’s the summer of my senior year of college. This is the LAST of its kind. There was no way in hell that I was gonna waste it by staying in bed all day on my days off from work (#NetflixAndCry). I was sick of being ignored or turned down by my friends and aquaintences after building up the courage to even ask them to hang out with me. I realized how pathetic I was. I was literally terrified to go places alone because I was under the impression that only losers did that. I have friends. I have a fiance. I’m even in a sorority, yet somehow I still could not for the life of me find some damn company. Everyone was at home in other towns or traveling. Of course, there were the odd lunch dates here and there, but I needed more than that. I found myself presented with two options: either spend all my free time alone and longing for a friend, OR actually get off my fat ass and go live my life. 

The first thing I think I did on my journey to live was buy a bunch of concert tickets. I still checked around to see if anyone I know was going, but instead of getting bummed out if the answer was no, I bought a ticket anyway. It was sort of empowering to make the commitment of paying for these shows with no gaurantee that I’d have company. I was crazy intimidated, but each show I went to alone was honestly the best time of my life. At first I felt awkward standing in line alone, and nodding my head in the back of the crowd. But after a beer, you know yah girl was a little more confident, and I realized I was being ridiculous. Literally no one was watching me and judging me, and if they were they’re lame. So I danced! I pushed to the front of the crowd all the way up to the stage. I’ve never done that before, even with people. At the first show I went to, I even made friends with the guys next to me by the stage, and one even bought me a drink! I’ve never pictured myself as the type of girl that would be bought a drink without asking. Super dope and confidence boosting. 

I started going out to coffee shops every chance I got. I found a couple that were super chill, and I started making new friends. I started going to this bar after work sometimes and talking to the other people there and the bartender knows me by name now. People are surprisingly friendly after a cup of coffee or a pint. Everytime I went I met someone new, and I realized I actually had a lot to say. I’m not as awkward as I thought I was. My resting bitch face isn’t as severe as some people have made it seem. Strangers aren’t that scary. 

Of course, not every time I went out was amazing. Sometimes I went to events I found on Facebook and talked to absolutely no one the entire time. But it didn’t bother me. I found comfort in myself. I appreciated my own company because I discovered that I was actually worthy and a fun person to be around once I stopped desparately depending on my best friends to validate me. Even though I already carry myself as if I know I’m a #badbitch, sometimes I have real confidence issues and real fears about what others are thinking. I still feel like that sometimes. The difference is that I know in my heart that I can get through it and that feeling will pass. 

 

I am a current senior at Christopher Newport University as a history major with a minor in childhood studies. A future elementary school teacher, with a blossoming passion for photography!
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