As Cassie and I are both socially anxious people, I decided to contact her and we discussed a collaboration project, as part of this project I asked her some situation based questions and Cassie explained how she would cope. I really hope you find our project helpful. You can find more of Cassie on yescassiewill.com or youtube.com/yescassiewill enjoy!
How have you handled your anxiety when you’re meeting friends and they bring friends that you don’t know?
I think that in this situation I would actually be more comfortable if I had never met them before, rather than having met them a couple of times but not really knowing them. If you’ve never met them before, you can start from scratch and ask them questions about themselves to get to know them (plus, everyone loves talking about themselves). When I’m socially anxious and meeting a new person for the first time, it often helps me to find something that we have in common so we can kind of “bond” over it. Then you can reference the similarity later if something relevant comes up. Other than that, stay as calm as you can, don’t think too much and smile. People in social situations are supposed to be having fun. When people are having fun, they smile. Even if you’re super anxious and not having fun, smile (whenever appropriate…don’t smile inappropriately).
Have you ever struggled with your anxiety on dates?
Of course! Doesn’t everyone? The main thing to keep in mind is that dates are supposed to be fun. Go with the flow, but also do/talk about whatever you do/talk about in order to have fun. That’s how the other person is going to get to know you. The goal is for you and your date to enjoy yourselves and have a good time together. And again, SMILE. Oh, and don’t be constantly worrying if he/she is liking you…if you’re going to worry about something like that, worry about whether or not you are liking him/her!
When you were at school or college did your anxiety make exams a struggle for you?
No, not really, because you can prepare yourself for exams. If you’ve studied and you know what you need to, you shouldn’t be anxious because you’re prepared and ready for what is coming. It’s different in social situations because you don’t know who’s going to say what, or how people are going to act. The only exams that I got really anxious for were practical exams where I’d have to demonstrate a technique in front of a professor. I would practice for those by doing it over and over and over again until I could basically do it with my eyes closed. Anxiety disappears when you gain confidence in yourself and your abilities.
What are your ways of handling social anxiety? Do you carry comforting things to calm social anxiety? I.e water, gum a teddy ect.
I find that when I have something to have in my hands when I’m in a social situation and I’m anxious, I end up tearing it up or fiddling with it too much, which I KNOW makes me look like a paranoid crazy person. I need to reign in the awkward touching, tapping, scratching, or whatever it is I’m doing (that is more than likely annoying someone else watching me be all nervous and fidgety).
So, I actually try not to hold anything in these situations. Personally, I feel most uncomfortable in a medium-sized group of people (5-10). In those situations, I really don’t talk at all. I don’t contribute anything to the conversation and frankly it’s like I’m not there. So what I try to do is…yes, you guessed it…smile! If you smile or laugh at what people are saying it automatically involves you in the conversation. When you’re smiling or laughing at what someone says, make eye contact with them. Connections with people are better formed with eye contact. This will take the pressure off of you feeling like you need to say something (and then worrying about if it’ll sound stupid or if people will judge you), but at the same time keep you involved in the socializing.
The whole smiling thing was something that I kind of learned the hard way. Back in high school I had a group of close friends, but I always felt like our larger group of people we socialized with never really liked me. I also felt the same way on all the soccer teams that I was on. I had a few people who I was close to and comfortable with, but I just didn’t engage well with the rest of the team. Eventually, I realized that people were often asking me if something was wrong, and I heard other people saying that I looked miserable, or I looked mean. I was never trying to look like this, but because I was so socially anxious with people I wasn’t very close to, I gave off this feeling of animosity. People thought that I didn’t like them because of the facial expressions I had on in times of anxiety. They saw me acting all withdrawn and thought that (this is an actual quote that someone said about me) ‘I hate the world’.