Back then when I first graduated college, I suffered from a case of social anxiety. Whenever I’d go outside to hang out with friends, I would be unsure of myself. Especially during conversations. What would people think of me? Should I be speaking during this moment or should I shut up? Should I approach someone or should I just play it cool?
There was no instruction manual on how to operate in social environments. This stuff wasn’t officially taught in school. You just had to kind of figure it out on your own. And at that time, I was so pigeonholed into focusing on my problem of social anxiety, I was unaware of how much blessings I had at that time.
I had a healthy mom and dad. I had my youth. I had a wonderful community of friends and family members. I was just awkward and anti-social. What could I possibly do? After all, that feeling of awkwardness was painful at times. I sometimes didn’t know how I got through at parties or mixers.
All I could do was put my head down and “work hard”. I just embraced the pain. The discomfort. The struggle. The challenge. And I grew from it. Even though often times I was just thinking up there in my little world and unable to fully enjoy the moment with my friends, I still had a lot to be thankful for. I should be thankful that I had a wonderful group of friends that I could go out with on a weekly basis.
It was still a fun time to be had. I just had to work hard at this social conversation thing. So, I enrolled in Toastmasters, which was an organization that helps you improve on your communication abilities in a supportive environment. So, I tried my best at Toastmasters. Made it a case to attend as many meetings as I could. And just enjoy the process.
Even though, I would struggle more often than not when I go up to the stage to speak publicly, I still kept my head down and worked hard. In times of distress, that’s one thing that I can control. Work hard. Be a good worker. Be an ox so to speak.
And I cultivated this hard working mentality thru the dire times of social anxiety. Of embracing the pain. And making it something that I could cherish and behold. I had to work hard for seven years or so. Not just in my social outings but also at work. Giving my social anxiety, I had some trouble making friends with co-workers. We got along fine, but it could’ve been even better if I wasn’t so awkward.
But, those were learning times. Periods of struggle that I will look back on and say that at least I worked hard. At least I gave it my all even during times of distress. I took risks. I failed many times. And I am better off for it. I can look back at those times with heart and courage and inspiration, knowing that the struggles I go through now, I can get over as well. As long as I put my head down and work at it.
Work hard. When control over everyday life flies out the window. When my mind betrays me with negative thoughts. All I can do is work hard. Try my best. Try to see things with a positive outwards perspective. Realize that not all problems can be resolvable in an instant. You have to work at it.
For better or worse, it’s a process. And these days, as a 30 year old, I have to say that social anxiety doesn’t worry me as much as other aspects of life. Now that I am mostly over my days of social anxiety, other problems of life have crept up on me. And these problems are some things that I naturally struggle at.
But, during these times of struggle, I will look back at my younger years and see what I did to beat my former case of social anxiety. I simply kept my head down and worked at it. Embraced the pain. The awkwardness. The discomfort. And simply will myself and push myself thru. Everybody goes thru problems in life, and I am no different. So, I will try my best to work at it to the best of my abilities.
To accept the fact that life will throw me curveballs every day of the week, and it is up to me to make lemonade out of lemons. To find ways to resolve the issue. Whether it is by working hard or working smart. Or preferably a combination of both.
Even in dire circumstances, I have control of my thoughts and actions. And the least I can do is to think optimistically about the circumstances and work hard at resolving the problem. And if it gets resolved, great. If it doesn’t, at least I can hold my head up high knowing that I tried hard. And I tried my best. But, I can only control what I can control.
So, the bread and butter basics are to work hard at it. To give effort even in dire circumstances. To show that you care. To show that you want to improve. To serve as an inspiration. To motivate yourself thru your actions and words. To be a light in society. And to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that you can strive for.