Tag Archives: Social Anxiety

Breaking out of Comfort

In “The Social Dilemma” I talked about having social anxiety and my fears- and hopes- of traveling and learning how better to deal with it. Since landing in Australia four weeks ago I’ve made an effort to put myself out there and try new things, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. I can’t count how many times I sat at this very laptop and read account after account of other travelers with social phobias or introversion state how the more and more they traveled the more and more comfortable they became talking to strangers. I literally fantasized about being able to sit in a cafe and just say, “hello” to someone without thinking twice about it… actually I still fantasize about that, but it’s baby steps!

My first self-imposed challenge was a week after I arrived. There’s a fantastic group on LinkedIn called, “The Rugby Business Network” that connects anyone with a love for rugby with an aim to help business. The Sydney chapter have networking events roughly once a month, and coincidentally held their June event just as I arrived. I decided to sign up and give it a go with the mind set of the worst case scenario I would walk into a room of old businessmen drinking scotch on the rocks reminiscing about the glory days of their youth.  The event was held at The Rugby Club, a laid back bar/lounge tucked in a side street near Circular Quay in the CBD. (Side note: if you want relaxed atmosphere with great memorbilia decor to watch a match or grab a pint check this place out.)

As quickly as I entered the room I was spotted as a foreigner… where’s my table to hide under?! At this point I was still confident but it was quickly fleeting. Luckily, the spotter was Adrian Skeggs, a former Wallaby and the coordinator of the event. He quickly introduced himself and sorted me at a table where I was introduced to a man who works in advertising and a man who coaches rugby. We were quickly joined by two lovely women who work at a lawfirm and were there promoting a charity function they were putting together. The evening went on with a talk from former Wallaby, Phil Waugh and everyone was laughing and having a good time. The outcome was a good night out and a few new contacts. Baby step number one ended with me not falling flat on my rump.

Step two: Travelers unite!

Never underestimate the bond between travelers. I’ve experience an overwhelming kindness from Australians, but it’s hard to articulate just how amazing the other travelers have been. Simply enough, I’m sure it’s because they know exactly what I’m going through of turning up to a new country not knowing anyone and not sure of anything.

YTravelBlog  Caz and Craig organized a meet up for fellow travelers and travel writers (I’m pretending to be one of them) the beginning of June. I rocked up to the event unsure as to what to expect and anticipating the conversation going something like this:

Them-“Hello, where have you traveled?”

Me-“Nowhere really, this year in Australia is my first time out of the states.”

Them-“You’re not one of us! Be gone!!!”

Yeah, I have a hyperactive imagination coupled with anxiety and sometimes it gets a bit out of hand. Nonetheless, that was my full on expectation of the initial interaction. Thankfully that couldn’t have been farther from the actual situation.

Upon meeting Caz and Craig the other travel-writers/bloggers trickled in. In addition to a few other Australians, there were four other Americans. We pretty much took over (Amurica!), but it was also great because these Ex-Pats helped make me feel even more welcomed and realize that no matter where I land, there will be a support group if I just look for it.

Be sure and check out my new friends’ sites:

Brooke- Her Packing List

Flashpacker Family

Scott- HostelZoo

Hannah- HannahDeMilta.com

Caz & Craig- YTravelBlog

Happy Traveling!

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The Social Dilemma

I have social anxiety.

anxiety  It’s been an “issue” pretty much my entire life but I remember a specific trigger in my early adolescence where I had a two-day long episode of losing my voice over anxiety of an event. Odds are though, if you know me, unless we’ve had this conversation, you’re probably surprised to discover my affliction. I hold a normal job, I have friends (few, but I have them), I’m not a total hermit, I occasionally make it out to public events, but what most people don’t realize is what a struggle those things are. If you know me, you have probably also experienced me canceling plans for unknown reasons or made up excuses at the last minute (sorry!). But, unfortunately it’s a pretty common thing, no matter how much I’m looking forward to the event, sometimes the anxiousness overcomes the excitement of plans.

One of the most common questions I get is about work. For the better part of the last decade I’ve been a server/bartender -a job which obviously requires A LOT of social interaction. My whole job is to walk up to a table, talk to them and make them happy enough to give me money after paying the establishment. But, that’s my JOB. I don’t know how I’m able to put the mask on and do it, but it works for me. Now, get me after work hours and tell me to do the same thing- walk up to a table of strangers and talk to them- and the mere thought of it is debilitating.

One of my biggest hopes with traveling is that it will get me to open up more and better deal with the social anxiety and be able to talk to people. They say if you travel alone you’ll be forced to meet people, but I’m afraid I’ll just be alone (which is not a terrible thing). Continue reading

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