You know, I used to be an unconfident socially anxious person in the past. I’d meet women that I wanted to talk to but I’d always be afraid to approach her. I’d see Meetup groups that looked super fun but I was afraid to go. Heck, I’d even be afraid to talk to my co-workers at work!
I was that guy who was always picked last in gym class. I was that guy who would hide in the bathroom and pretend to be playing on my phone at parties while everyone else was having fun. I was that guy who sat at the corner of the lunch table because nobody wanted to eat with me.
The worst part about being that guy is that – when you look around and see everyone else having fun, making friends, and getting into relationships – you begin to wonder if you’re the only one who doesn’t get it.
Yeah. It sucks to be that guy.
Of course, I didn’t want to be that guy. I’d always get advice from well-meaning relatives like…
- “You should be more confident”
- “Steven, you should speak up more”
- “You should break out of your shell”
…and, I mean, I wanted to!! I desperately wanted to break out of my shell. To make friends and talk to people just as easily as everyone else did.
I even tried to break out of my shell a few times. I would ask my classmates if they wanted to grab lunch. I asked a few women that I liked out on dates. Invariably, they all turned me down. And eventually, I just started to wonder if it was because something was wrong with me. If it was because I was a bad person.
That was not an emotionally fun place to be.
If you’ve ever felt this way, then I’m not going to try and talk you out of it. Instead, I’ll just tell you what I wish I knew back then whenever I felt that way.
Anything you do for the first time will make you unconfident
Think of your favorite video game of all-time. I bet you’re pretty good at that game, right? Maybe you’ve beaten all the levels. Maybe you’ve collected all the secrets. If it’s a multiplayer game, maybe you’re even better than all your friends at it.
Remember the first time you played that game? You’re probably a lot better now than you were back then.
For me, my favorite game is Super Mario 64. By now, I’ve completed all the levels, saved the princess, and collected all 120 Power Stars. Multiple times! But when I first started out, I could never have imagined that I’d be as good as I am today.
The first time I played, I made it all the way to the first couple of Goombas in Course 1, panicked, got killed, and became so distraught that I turned off my N64 and didn’t touch it again for a week. Back when I was inexperienced, Goombas scared the heck out of me!
When you do anything for the first time, by definition you’re going to be unconfident. This is what I wish I knew before when I was first trying to break out of my shell. The first time you try to…
- Talk to a woman that you like
- Make new friends
- Go to a Meetup that you’ve never been to before
…you’re naturally going to feel some anxiety about it. That’s natural, and everyone goes through that! Even the most confident person you know goes through this when doing something for the first time. Nobody’s immune from it. Some people are just really good at hiding it.
Heck, the first time I attended a yoga class I because so nervous that I stormed out in the middle of the lesson. Why? There was nothing inherently scary about the yoga poses…I’ve done harder moves during my weightlifting exercises. I even had a tarantula crawl under me while I was doing push-ups once, and I didn’t even react to it! But yoga—that scared me because it was new and unfamiliar.
That’s something I’ve come to accept. If you’re doing something for the first…or second…or even the third time and you feel a sense of anxiety about it…that’s OK! Don’t beat yourself up over it. Accept that anything you’re doing for the first several times is going to make you feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or that something’s wrong with you.
It simply means that you’re human.