I remember a time when I found it really difficult to engage well with people I didn’t know – especially in contexts when nobody I knew was present. I’d see characters on television shows meet new people and just casually start talking to them and think that it was pretty unrealistic. I thought it was equally as hard for everybody.
I remember finding it hard to interact with colleagues in my first few jobs and never really going on to form much of a connection with them as a consequence. Even meeting up with close friends, I would sometimes feel anxious immediately before meeting them – even though it was fine once I saw them. I didn’t speak about it that much, because I thought it was a normal response which everybody felt.
These days, none of those things apply. I look forward to seeing friends and never feel anxious about it. I’m good at talking and can have a conversation with just about anyone. Not a job goes by without gaining at least one significant friendship out of it.
Every now and then, I’ll see something on television that I saw years ago and remember how I found it unrealistic originally, only to reflect that I have since been in similar situations and been just as relaxed as the people in them. It’s a nice reminder that I am very lucky to have been able to overcome my social anxiety – primarily through regular exposure to these situations. If you feel the same, it’s not an insurmountable hurdle and you can absolutely overcome it too!