August 12, 2015

How to Overcome Social Anxiety as an Outgoing Introvert.


As an outgoing introvert, I have anxiety when friends call me randomly or try to plan a last minute visit to my house.

My initial instinct is to avoid them or lie and say I’m too busy to talk, too busy to hang out.

I enjoy being around people, and laughing with friends is one of my favorite things to do. But I like to have time to stress about socializing. I feel that I need to socialize on my own terms, during times when I’m emotionally available.

I prefer advanced notice to schedule my anxiety about putting myself out there for others to judge. I’m not sure why I think others will judge me for being me. That must be my introverted side coming out.

This happened recently when an acquaintance called me out of the blue. I panicked.

First of all, why was she calling? We had only just met through our husbands. We had bonded over our love of traveling, but is that enough of a reason to be talking on the phone?

I didn’t answer out of fear that she would want to hang out with not enough notice for my comfort zone. I had just got home from work and this would interrupt my relaxation-after-work routine. I had a list of excuses for why I shouldn’t answer the phone.

My comfort zone was shrinking as I thought of all the possibilities for her call. She left a voicemail inviting herself to my home to visit. She was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by after she picked up her son.

Then she Facebook messaged me, worried that she had the wrong number. This was more tolerable for me. I could edit myself through text. As I messaged her back, I wanted to give her an excuse. Should I go stand in the bath tub and reply, ”Sorry, I’m in the tub”? That didn’t feel honest.

So I went internal and told myself that visiting with her in my home wouldn’t be the end of my world. Even though my house wasn’t spotless, it was clean enough.

After all, she was popping in—she had to accept me and my house for what we are.

I had to address my fear of last minute plans and let go of the potential judgment she may about my house. My home. My personal sanctuary that not many get to enter. Should I just ignore her invitation? No, that’s not nice.

I called her back.

She came over with her cute little boy and we visited for an hour on the floor. We laughed and caught up with each other’s lives. Her son played with my sad box of toys and his giggles filled all awkward silences.

Once she left, I felt invigorated. Conversation flowed so easily. I did it! I stepped out of my comfort zone and maybe even upgraded her from acquaintance to friend.

It’s so important to not let our heads and thoughts keep us from living life. As much as I’d like to sit in my house with my dog and my husband, comfortable with each other’s company and content in our cozy home, it’s not healthy to limit interactions with those around us.

Every time I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and lived life, I’ve had a positive experience.

Some of my best friends have been made during awkward life situations that I never would have experienced if I didn’t put myself out there. I’ve been blessed to travel out of my comfort zone and now have amazing friends all over the world. Stories from my experiences have become great ways to meet new people.

But it’s not fair to sequester, stifle or ignore my introverted side. Learning to acknowledge my introverted self and slowly coax it into uncomfortable situations has helped me grow.

I’ve learned to channel that part of myself while still honoring it. I know I can’t let it overcome the outgoing side of me as that also needs tender loving care.

While sometimes it’s good to hole up like hobbits, it’s important to interact and bond with our community—to see the world outside our doorstep and beyond.



8 Ways to Get Unstuck by Getting Out of your Comfort ZONE


Author: Jaimee Guenther

Assistant Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: BaoTriPhotography/Flickr

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