Speaking in Confidence

At work I’ve been accepted into a leadership program and tonight there was a welcome dinner and kick-off. I went, I chatted, I recognized that it was important for me to be present and I was. And then later I spent some time looking at the social anxiety disorder page on webmd. 

It’s safe to say that I’ve never been very good at having confidence in myself. I’m constantly just a little worried about what everyone else thinks of me and having to do social things, like dinner tonight, makes me want to quit everything and just stay at home. I’m not kidding–I actually did fantasize about just turning around and skipping the event tonight as the host’s house came into view. I also considered bailing from the program when words like “activities” and “introductions” were mentioned. It didn’t help me any that I was the first person to have to introduce myself when that part of the evening came around.

I question my worth on all kinds of levels daily. Yes, I know I’m just fine and I shouldn’t worry about what other people might think, but I’ve been doing it since I was in preschool and it might be a little ingrained at this point. 

Mistakes and missteps are felt keenly, accolades and distinctions do not sink as deeply into my psyche. I always expect that I’ll do something wrong at any second, but the converse doesn’t apply. When I fail, I don’t also expect that I’ll do something right at any second.
Here’s the puzzling part though: if these things bother me so much–and I probably wouldn’t be Googling “social anxiety” if they didn’t–then why do I insist on pushing myself out of my safe zone? I could just keep myself under a nice, safe, quiet rock, but I don’t. I applied for the damn leadership program in the first place and I’ll share this little bit of writing so that more people will see it and possibly judge me harshly. I’ve taken improv classes and I offer up my thoughts in college classes. In fact, I’m taking a class this fall and I know I’ll feel the familiar sense of dread before class, I’ll talk in spite of said dread, and I’ll spend half a day thinking, “What did I say? Was it stupid?”

I want attention and growth and apparently that outweighs the stress shoulders, incessant dwelling, and  occasional light depression that tag along. 

Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill and what I feel is no greater than what other people feel. Being human, in general, is a complicated and sometimes painful process after all. I do think I might be getting a little better–I did RSVP to this event, attend it, and I don’t feel too bad, except maybe a little extra tired and grateful to be at home. Ideally, I’d like to more regularly talk to people without fight or flight impulses and hours of internal instant replay. Like I said though, I’ve been solidly anxious since preschool, so it’s probably going to take awhile. 

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