I am confident in social settings.
I love meeting new people.
I host weekly networking events and have helped thousands of people meet at over 400 events in the last two years.
I heard about an expo even honoring local female entrepreneurs and knew I wanted to be there.
And yet I found myself making excuses as the time came to get ready to leave.
It probably won’t be worthwhile.
It is far away.
It is weird if I go by myself.
And there it was, my old familiar friend.
It shows up for us all at different points in time.
For some of you reading this, it will happen when you are meeting someone one on one, perhaps a date or a job interview.
For others, the thought of a group interview is far worse, or meeting your partners family, or your colleagues birthday event.
No matter the situation, our social anxiety is always coming from the same place.
Specifically, our thoughts about other people judging us.
They will think I am weird, or not smart enough, or they didn’t really mean to invite me.
This is why so many people prefer to sit at home, trying to avoid other people and judgement.
This doesn’t work because whatever you are worried others’ will think of you is coming from YOUR brain.
You have no idea what anyone else is thinking. Ever. It is literally a figment of YOUR imagination.
So you end up sitting at home with the main critic. Yourself.
Sure, you can numb it with some Netflix, Instagram and wine, but it is still there, and will linger longer.
This actually feeds your social anxiety so it gets more powerful.
I have seen it with people that enjoyed dating, only to come out of a long term relationship and dread it.
I have seen it with new moms that loved being social and meeting new people, only to dread going to make new friends in this new stage of their life.
There is only ONE way to overcome your social anxiety.
You are going to have to lean into it, feel it more, experience it, and take ownership for it.
Get to know your thoughts (conscious and subconscious), recognize that judgement is coming from your own brain, challenge them and take small steps to disprove them.
Talk to someone in your co-working space as you get a coffee.
Get out and go to the networking event, even if it means roping in a friend or colleague.
These steps may seem small, but they are important first steps.