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My Social Anxiety Back Story
Living with social anxiety, you could say I started to become a professional shut in.
I almost had it down to a science. How can I avoid this next event? Let’s just say I got suddenly “sick” a lot. If you have anxiety, you may relate to what I’m talking about. I actually still do suffer from intense migraines, but they are far and few between these days. Back when my anxiety was at it’s highest, I had them on almost a daily basis. The stress of a single social event, no matter how minor it was, got me so worked up that it gave me awful physical symptoms, migraines being the worst culprits.
At some point down the line, I decided that enough was enough. The isolation felt awful. I started depending on my husband too heavily to fill the void that I was missing from having other meaningful relationships. I was the parent of 4 boys and it was MY JOB to raise them to become good men. I’ve always understood and believed that children truly learn from what you do, not so much what you say. Actions speak volumes over words. I had a reason higher than myself to get over this debilitating anxiety. The anxiety caused a crush in my self esteem, so I needed another reason outside of myself to work past this. The one goal I’ve had for my life is to be a good mother. Hence, the escape!
The Escape From Social Anxiety
How did I get over my anxiety? Exposure, exposure, exposure. Taking baby steps out of the comfort zone when it was absolutely terrifying. I knew that I could mentally talk myself out of it, and I WOULD, so I did something kind of crazy. I signed up as a retailer with a clothing company. The “onboarding package” was a few thousand dollars, something that my family didn’t just have lying around. I knew that if I took this leap, used my family’s finances, I had no choice but to be successful. It wasn’t in my nature to be financially irresponsible. I also knew that it would be necessary to take those baby steps to be successful in this business. The business was built on relationships made through in-home “popups”, something extremely intimidating to me. That’s exactly why I chose to do it!
Okay, the package was bought. I was a LuLaRoe retailer. Oh no, what have I done? That was my serious initial thought. I’m going to fail. I’m in over my head. This is so far out of my box. I had all these thoughts, but I had to act and I did! I began small by reaching out to other retailers and building up a support group that way. Every time I would meet someone, afterward I would realize how good I felt. I got a rush from working through that fear and a sense of pride that I surpassed that goal. Each time, it got easier. I always had the initial fear, but I replaced those thoughts with positive affirmations and worked through. You know, like the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. I hyped up the angel!
The point where I realized I had done some serious work and made big changes in my life was only 6 months in. I had reached out to a local church to have a multi-retailer event. This took, 1) me having a meeting with their administration (terrifying), 2) me planning the event and inviting 40 other retailers to attend and working with them and 3) me opening the doors to the hundreds of customers that came piling in, spending the day keeping everyone happy. It was more than a success. I took a break to the bathroom, sat in the stall and bawled my eyes out. Happy tears of course!
If you’re terrified of something that you know deep down is illogical, do that thing. You’ll be amazed at what you can do. If you need support, reach out. Heck, reach out to me. I understand how crazy social anxiety looks from the outside, but I also understand how draining it is to your inside.