Today, this is what social anxiety looked like for me. It looked like helping lead people in worship at my church for four services. But, there are certainly layers of that that I wanted to mention as well, because it’s important. Sometimes it looked like the anxiety ridden women sitting in the green room not knowing what to say to people or how to interact with them. Sometimes it looked like wanting to be part of conversations so bad but not having the ability to just walk up and take a chance. Sometimes it looked like just sitting by yourself for a while because you don’t know what else to do.
Honestly, social anxiety is one of the most frustrating things that I personally deal with. Why? Because, contrary to what people may think at times, I really enjoy socializing. My problem is that my anxiety wears me out. One simple conversation can take a lot out of me, especially when I am around people I don’t know very well. Group settings or parties can be terrible for me sometimes. Even when they’re full of great people, I often times have a negative experience because of my anxiety. Conversations are just hard for me. Sometimes it’s even a struggle with people I already know and care about. Suuuuuper frustrating.
Here’s the thing, though. Yes, I have social anxiety. Yes, it does suck. But I am not letting that define me. I am not social anxiety. I’m a child of God and I declare FREEDOM over my life in this area. God didn’t create me to let social anxiety get the best of me. Sometimes it just takes a step here and a step there in the right direction.
I’ve come a long way. I remember a time in fifth grade when I had to give a report in front of my whole class about Indiana. I was so paralyzed with fear that I just stood there and started crying…. in front of the entire class (clearly, that didn’t help my anxiety).
I also remember another time in high school when I had to take my Spanish oral exam…. I blanked and started crying in front of the professor. (Yeah, a moment I’m not proud of for sure). I remember just a couple years ago when I was in a small group… I would never speak up, even if I wanted to! Every time I would have something to say, my heart would start beating fast and I could never get the courage to say it. To be honest, this still happens at times even today (like last week at the bank)… But it goes to show, that I’m not where I used to be!
Like a said earlier in my post, today, I just helped lead worship as a harmony vocalist at my church during multiple services and I was able to be completely myself. I was nervous but I wasn’t stiff. I wasn’t socially paralyzed. I raised my hands, I jumped around, I worshipped God… and I just know that God used that. It’s so much bigger than myself. How amazing is that?! One step at a time, I am overcoming social anxiety. Will I be completely over it one day? I surely hope so. But if not, I can rest in the fact that God is faithful and that He walks with me through it. At the end of the day, in my weakness, He is strong. Blessed be His name!
Before I go, if I could give one piece of advice to someone dealing with social anxiety, it would be…. whatever it is that you’re afraid of, fight to do it. Take small steps to get there. Do not be silent. You don’t have to be overcome!