Before my struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, I was a very confident and outgoing person. Social situations never bothered me a bit, in fact I thrived in social settings. I loved meeting new people and could talk in front of hundreds of people without any problem whatsoever.
But things changed quickly the moment I started suffering from an anxiety and panic disorder. I spent so much time worrying about how I was feeling and what other people thought of me. I started avoiding people for fear of how they would perceive me. I would come up with excuses each time friends would ask me to go out to some social event.
Instead of being out there in the real world meeting people and building meaningful relationships, I was at home trying to figure out what had happened to me and why. The more stressed and worried I was, the more tired my body was becoming and the more anxious I would become. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends. It took me time to realize that what I was suffering from was social anxiety and that by avoiding people and social situations I was actually making things worse. And that is the dilemma with many people – they want to get better, but they are not willing to confront their feelings and fears. They want to remain isolated from the rest of the world, but still feel better about themselves. There is no overcoming social anxiety if you keep holding on to this attitude.
I have also discovered over the years since my recovery that they are many people who might suffer from social anxiety without even realizing that they do. I hear people say, “I am just not a people person,”but deep down they actually are afraid of social conversations. I am not saying you should go to social events every day to prove that you are not afraid of people. I am just saying you should not be afraid of what people think of you. If people judge you that is not your problem; that’s their problem, so let them deal with it. Don’t internalize other people’s problems and make them yours.
About Tawanda Chirenda
Tawanda Chirenda is an anxiety-transformation and resilience-building coach, speaker and founder of The Willing Student Method, a program that helps individuals overcome anxiety, build resilience and live a happier, more purpose-filled life as a result. Although Tawanda is now a resilience-building coach, he came to it the long, hard way, through many years of struggling with anxiety, failure, and helplessness. At the age of 25, Tawanda was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that drastically affected his normal functioning and everyday life. Through a willingness to learn, grow and change, Tawanda was able to successfully recover from this condition and regain his healthy and productive life. Tawanda has been fully recovered for more than 7 years now and he is a much stronger person than before. You can connect with Tawanda on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website, www.thewillingstudent.com, to learn more about his work.