I’m perhaps one of the least confident people I know.
You’d think I’d be one of the most confident people out there. But I still get social anxiety when I’m around people.
This is me in my comfort zone…
And this is me outside of my comfort zone…
That’s me on the far right. It looks like I’m having a good time, right? I cracked a few jokes, told a few stories, and basically became the life of the party. But if you could look inside my head, you’d see that my emotions basically looked like this:
Life would be so much easier if you could take the part of your brain that feels anxiety and just…flip a switch so you don’t feel unconfident anymore, right?
Well, I haven’t found that switch yet. But until I do, here’s how I deal with those times I feel nervous or unconfident.
First, I’ll do prep work on doing the thing that makes me nervous. Maybe there’s a woman I have a crush on that I’m interested in asking out on a date. I’ll prep for that by mapping out the exact words that I’m going to say to her when I approach her.
Second, I’ve learned that it’s important to treat yourself with compassion when dealing with things outside of your comfort zone. NAME, imagine that a close friend or loved one told you that they were interested in doing something bold but was feeling a bit nervous.
Maybe they wanted to talk to a girl that they liked. Maybe they were interested in going to a convention or Meetup for the first time but was feeling a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.
Would you think any less of them for feeling nervous? Of course not! You’d have some words of encouragement to say, and you might even think more highly of them for being brave and daring to step outside of their comfort zone. But if we’re the one who’s nervous, we tend to think less of ourselves.
Shouldn’t we show ourselves the same sort of compassion that we would show anybody else?
Finally, it’s important to understand that everyone feels unconfident sometimes. More often than you might expect.
A few years ago, I overheard a friend of mine get into a heated argument with one of his business clients over the phone. My friend’s client was at least twice our age—but he was also wrong—and my friend was eventually able to bring the client around to his point of view. At that moment, I remember thinking highly of my brave friend for standing up to someone twice his age…
…but immediately after he hung up the phone, he buried his head in his hands and cried out “Oh my God! I have no idea what I’m doing!!”
Before my friend said that, I thought he was the world’s most fearless person. Once he said that aloud, I realized that even those people we think are “brave” have many of the same fears that you and I have.
It’s not that they never feel scared or nervous. They just do the stuff that scares them anyway.
So, maybe you think I’m a brave person. Maybe I’m good at looking like I’m brave. But I get scared too.
It gets a little easier to deal with over time, I guess. But it never goes truly goes away.
I still get nervous all the time, too.