Have you ever heard the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child?”
The key to that saying is that your village isn’t built overnight, and it doesn’t come prepackaged with the birth of a new child. A village is a community of people that are like family. You grow together, getting to know one another, and you trust these people more than anyone else in the world. You know your village always has your best interest at heart, and you feel the same for them. And occasionally, new people come along, and the village embraces them like family.
Building a village isn’t always easy. Building a village is a battle for those struggling with Social Anxiety, and the enemy is our mind. As I see all the exciting events taking place on and off-campus, it occurs to me that some will miss those opportunities as they are currently in a battle with their minds. The thing about these battles is that they are often invisible to those around us. I spent a good part of my life hiding in the shadows to avoid being confronted by the battle within. I remember vividly the extrovert that was trapped within, imprisoned by the enemy. I recall the crushing anxiety, fear, clenched teeth, sweaty palms, heart slamming in my chest, and self-defeating thoughts racing through my mind.
I was defeated for years, comfortably alone within myself. To be alone was better than going face to face with defeat. Choosing to go to battle is one of the most terrifying yet self-defining moments of our lives. I have become a warrior and a victor. I have defeated the enemy, and now I want to help you create your battle plan and build your tribe. This is an endeavor one cannot embark on alone; it requires a village. And because those with Social Anxiety struggle to build a village, this endeavor requires the mindful eye and willingness of those around us. I challenge you to a call for action, from one warrior to another; This is my Battle Cry!
What exactly is a Battle Cry?
A Battle Cry is a yell or chant used during battle by members of the same combatant group. Often these battle cries aim to invoke patriotic or religious sentiments, and their purpose is to arouse aggression for one’s own side, causing intimidation on the hostile side. Your Battle Cry should be so loud that the enemy flees, preferring to avoid confrontation altogether.
Who are the Members of our Combatant Group?
The entire human race is potential members of your combatant group, which means anyone is a potential candidate for your village. It’s important to understand the personality types of the individuals within your village. However, because this is such a broad topic, for the purpose of the article we will focus on introverts and extroverts. According to research, we could essentially place every person in the world in one of these two categories. However, these two personalitiy types are interchangeable. Researchers have noted that Introverts can engage in activivites and interactions that are exhibited by extroverts; however, the introvert still requires space and time alone to recharge. While the extrovert is typically outgoing, we may see what appears to be introverted personality traits when the extrovert is suffering from social anxiety disorder.
Social Anxiety is an Anxiety Disorder than can be experienced by anyone, regardless of their personality type. Both introverts and extroverts can experience social anxiety. However, being an extrovert with social anxiety can be more intense. Extroverts derive their energy through their interactions with others and when extroverts avoid social settings, they can feel sluggish and depressed.
It is important to understand that being an introvert does not mean an individual suffers from Social Anxiety. Introvert’s interact within their communities, making new connections while being mindful of their needs to stay energized and healthy. The introvert requires time alone to recharge and prefers small groups as opposed to social settings with larger groups.
Understanding our connectedness
Every human being on earth is connected in a way that science is only just beginning to understand. The Human Consciousness Project has indicated that when significant events have taken place within our world, our collective consciousness, the energy within all of us, has significantly impacted random number generators. To learn more about this phenomenon, you can visit The Global Consciousness Project (global-mind.org). Further research has also indicated that we can pick up on the energies of others around us, which emanate from the heart chakra. We are an incredibly unique and powerful species that perform more proficiently when we stand together.
Enemy Tactics & overcoming them
There are many missed opportunities for meaningful connections throughout your day, even for the most outgoing individuals. Understanding how we are sabotaging our connections will allow us to mindfully overcome such obstacles as we move forward on the battlefield.
We live in a time where most of us spend our free moments glued to our smartphones. After all, it’s an easy distraction, one that most people never question. For the individual suffering from social anxiety, the smartphone has developed into a retreat. As you’re hidden behind the screen, most people in your vicinity never suspect the battle that is raging within. Being engrossed in our phones is a common feature within our society and indicates that you should not be interrupted. Imagine what would happen if you left your phone in your back pocket or bag. We would find that we open ourselves up to the experiences around us, providing an opportunity for conversations to spark.
Fear of Speaking First:
I was recently at the Tattoo Parlor waiting for my appointment. I noticed a young girl sitting a few feet away. I watched as she fumbled with her keys, nervously moving them from one hand to the other before reaching for her phone. I made it a point to speak first. Based on our shared location, I went with the most apparent conversation starter, “What tattoo are you getting?” Before long, our conversation had taken off in many directions. Before she walked away she said, “Thank you for speaking to me first. I struggle with anxiety. I always want to talk to others, but I’m afraid to speak first. I just never know what to say.”
Speaking First is Difficult, but here are a few icebreakers:
- Be mindful of your surroundings, observe the person you want to approach, can you find any potentional similarities from observation alone: jewlery, tattoos, bands on their shirt, clothing brands, handbags, books, etc…
- Compliment them.
- Ask about their day, their interest or what clubs they belong to.
- Ask about their Major/Minor and what drives their plans for their future.
- Talk about music, what you love to binge-watch, or your favorite books.
- Travel is always a great topic, and if you haven’t been anywhere, talk about the places you would love to go.
- Introduce yourself, ask their name. It’s okay for this to come in the middle of or near the end of your conversation, “I’m sorry, I didn’t introduce myself. I’m ________. What’s your name?” You can take this opportunity to exchange social media info or phone numbers if you want to keep in touch.
- Invite them to study, to grab lunch or coffee, or go to a movie.
- People want connections just as much as you do! The more you share, the easier it becomes. Trust me!
In my early twenties, an old high school classmate became my coworker. As we got to know each other, she raved about how awesome I was. We agreed we both had a great deal in common and wished we would have become friends sooner. She confided that she never talked to me in high school because she thought I was stuck up and believed that I was better than everyone. I was dumbfounded.
There was no way she was talking about me. My self-confidence in high school, and for a while after, was zilch. I never felt good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, important enough – it was simple – I was not enough. I hated everything about myself. I was the poor girl, from the wrong side of town, with no confidence, and I believed everyone else seen me the same way. I wanted to be unseen, and the best way to remain unseen was to put up barriers and not let anyone in. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends, but I was closed off to any new connections. I was so worried about others judging me that I spent all my time judging myself. I cannot count the number of people who have remembered me in a positive way from my younger years. No one seen me the way I seen myself.
I learned that we should never make assumptions. Things are never as bleak as they seem. No one sees your flaws or insecurities like you do. In all likelihood, they do not see your flaws at all. In most cases, when you walk into a room, no one is thinking about you; instead, they are focused on themselves. Even if a person looks your way, do not assume they are thinking about you or judging you. They are not! So do not allow your mind to take over and run rampant with illogical fallacies. Just take a deep breath, center yourself, smile, keep your head up, your eyes forward, and continue with confidence.
Taking things Personal:
We are never alone in our failure to communicate and create connections. My co-worker and new found friend was just as much at fault as I was. She took my silence personally and made assuptions about my character. And in truth, I never even noticed her, I was too worried about what others were thinking about me. When she looked at me, she saw a confident, outgoing girl that didn’t want to be bothered by anyone else. I suppose I became so great at faking it that everyone around me believed what I allowed them to see. They never knew the mess that was rumbling around inside of me. My classmate and many others took my barriers personally without knowing the real me.
The shell that is projected to the world does not reflect the soul residing in the body. To truly get to know another person, we have to be willing to get to know them on a deeper level. We have to allow our personalities, talents, strengths, and weaknesses to come into the light. We have to move beyond our false ideas of ourselves and others.
As we open up to those around us, we must remember that we are all engaged in our own unique battles. To live is to suffer in between moments of happiness. Social Anxiety is just one of the many battles that we face as human beings. We have to learn to understand one another, accept our differences, create boundaries, respect them and never take another person’s actions personally. How another person behaves, what they say and do, says more about them than it does you.
Always remember, you are human first. That means we must allow room for human nature.
Negative Self-Talk and Self-Destructive Behaviors:
I have learned that speaking negatively to ourselves is like intentionally drinking poison. The lies you’re telling yourself, the stories and situations you’re creating in your mind – it’s all fallacies – there is no truth to such lies. You are a beautiful, unique, and worthy individual with a significant role within the village we are building.
To overcome negative mindsets, you must constantly remind yourself that these are lies, you must choose to replace the lies with truth and positive affirmations. If you believe you’re ugly, tell yourself every single day that you are beautiful. Stand in the mirror and look for every feature you love about yourself. Do Not Acknowledge the flaws or your dislikes AT ALL! Allow yourself to mindfully reflect on positive attributes! If you believe you are not worthy, remind yourself that you are a Queen that deserves everything Beautiful the world has to offer, including the family waiting for you within your village. Say to your self: My positive thoughts are powerful, My negative thoughts are weak. Believe it, Breath it, and Live it!
My Challenge for you
- I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone, check the social calendar, and make it a point to attend at least one social event this semester. Don’t want to be bothered with checking the calendar? Here’s a couple events that are coming up soon. Is love in the stars with Zodiac Speed Dating on August 31st? This might just be the event of the year. And Pink Week is heading our way September 7th-10th. If you’re not looking for love, but you’re willing to take my challenge to meet new friends, then Pink Week is where you want to be.
- I challenge you to put your phones away while you are on campus or in other areas that will permit the opportunity for unexpected conversations to take place.
- I challenge you to speak first! If you’re the extrovert, LET ME HEAR YOUR BATTLE CRY!! MAKE YOUR PRESENCE KNOWN! Be mindful of the enemy that lurks within the mind. Remember that the enemy is invisible, so we never know who needs us to speak first. Our personalities thrive off human interactions; we derive power and energy from our connections. This means we belong on the frontlines, embracing our brothers and sisters who are unknowingly battling the enemy within. We are the individuals who will insist that you show up at that event, go to that party, and take those risks. We do not intend to be pushy, but we are both a breath of fresh air and a wrecking ball of energy to those suffering. So we must proceed openly but cautiously, being mindful of other’s needs. Go ahead! Speak to those who never have anything to say. Start a conversation with the new face in the crowd. Say hello, to those who seem to have it all together. And interrupt those who are mindlessly scrolling. Let’s build a village. Let’s find our tribe!
- AGAIN, I CHALLENGE YOU TO SPEAK FIRST!! If you’re the introvert, LET ME HEAR YOUR BATTLE CRY!! MAKE YOUR PRESENCE KNOWN! Your place within the village is vital. Because you prefer conversations to be one on one or in small groups, this allows you to really tap into getting to know an individual. Your personality will allow you to approach new people delicately. Your calm, laid back energy will allow those in your company feel completely at ease. Take the opportunity to invite these individuals to the groups you are participating in. Exchange social medias or phone numbers, explain that you prefer to text as opposed to spending any amount of time on the phone. Compare classes and if it works, suggest a study session. Let’s build a village. Let’s find our tribe!
- One Last Time, I CHALLENGE YOU TO SPEAK FIRST!!! MAKE YOUR PRESENCE KNOWN! If you are one who is currently battling the enemy, LET ME HEAR YOUR BATTLE CRY!! Arouse aggression within your mind, intimidate the enemy. Your Battle Cry should be so LOUD that the ENEMY FLEES, preferring to avoid confrontation altogether. You are brave, worthy, important, interesting, beautiful, funny, loving, compassionate, and the best friend someone is waiting to meet!! Gather all your strength, Let me hear your roar- Now seize control of your mind!! You’re a leader, a warrior, and you will overcome any obstacle or lies the enemy tries to hit you with!! I, too, once battled the enemy, I freed myself and you will too. Anxiety does not define who we are or what we are capable of! Now it is time- Let’s build a village. Let’s find our tribe!
Not everyone we embrace will choose to remain within our village, some personalities fit, and others do not-this is okay, and it’s why it is essential to know our boundaries as we move into new friendships. After all, a healthy village requires constant maintenance and allows room for new combatants. We should never stop making connections. The most crucial aspect of any relationship is healthy boundaries and mutual respect.
I encourage you to share your new connections with us at Her Campus. Here’s what you need to do, follow the challenges above, tell your new friend about the article that inspired you, snap a selfie together and share it to our social media sites with #HearMyBattleCry!!
I look forward to seeing all the new connections!! On Facebook: @HerCampusAtValdosta, Instagram: @hcvaldosta, SnapChat: @hcvaldosta