Ask PD: I Want to Overcome My Social Anxiety

February 12, 2015

Ask PD: How Do I Overcome My Social Anxiety?

Every Thursday, we answer your questions about healthy eating, veganism, fitness, wellness, etiquette, love, life, and everything in between! Ask us at contact [at] peacefuldumpling [dot] com, or using the contact form below.

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Dear PD:
Thank you so much for the entity that is Peaceful Dumpling!

I wish daily that I could express what joy you bring me.

THANK YOU!

I look forward to your newsletter and carry your influence with me throughout the day.

I really want to have more table-side etiquette as a server. To be able to be well spoken and appropriate, to be comfortable, and to maintain my individuality without volunteering too much about myself. I think it’s time for me to shine light on this. I need help!

I don’t want to be a server my whole life! I want to be good at it now, but I want to accomplish something as a flutist now that I’m 2 years out of a flute performance grad program. I don’t even know how to ask for advice!

I also have what I think of as a certain shade of social media anxiety. I think of a lot more posts and comments than I actually have the courage to share and sometimes I regret not sharing my thoughts. How do you do it (without overdoing it) at PD?

Thank you again,
Socially Anxious

Dear Socially Anxious,
Thank you for your kind words–we love that you love PD! It’s always wonderful to hear that our stories resonate with our readers. We’re so thrilled that you take away something bright, positive, and inspirational from our work. 😀

On that note, I’m going to start answering your questions in reverse: first, how to share more on social media (and, as you’ll see reading on, in life). It’s tricky to strike that balance between being part of an online (or real-life) conversation and seeming like a narcissistic braggart. After all, social media is primarily about calling attention to yourself in a sea of other faces and voices. I was averse to joining Twitter for years because I thought, “Why do people care at all what my random thoughts are? They shouldn’t! I barely do.”

Then, I realized that there is some unselfish value to be gained from posting parts of yourself online. Usually it opens the door for others to chime in: you may think you’re alone in how you think or respond to something, but you’re probably not. Also, it’s gratifying for the person behind whatever you’re posting about to know someone’s read it–even if they have a more negative comment or criticism (though it’s rather poor online etiquette to send out bad vibes . . .). You have to remember, too, that the online space is so big the stakes of putting something into it are fairly low–unless you’re a Kardashian or the President. So post away and fear not!

This mindset can apply as well to your table-side manner. Think about the best servers you’ve had when you’ve been out at a restaurant, or even people like cashiers and baristas. What did you like about how they treated you as a customer? It was probably a balance between sharing some of themselves in recognition of what you’re sharing about yourself just by virtue of your relationship in those 2 minutes-to-an-hour. You order a meal that they happen to love too, so they tell you; you’re buying something at the grocery store, and they ask you how to cook with it or share a favorite recipe they’ve made with it. It’s very small–the definition of “small talk”–but you leave feeling like you’ve gotten more than you came in for: a personal interaction and not just a transaction. Try adding those kinds of personal anecdotes to your serving exchanges, and you’ll find you’ll be rewarded with good karma and maybe some good tips, too!

When it comes to asking for advice, per the third part of your question, think about these give-and-take scenarios as well. I know I suffer from seeming too selfish when asking someone for help or advice: they have better things to do than talk to lowly me, I think. But I know that whenever I’m the person asked about something, I’m always happy and honored to oblige. It feels good when someone else shows they value my opinions or experience. Perhaps, then, you might reach out to some of your old instructors or friends to see if they might know of any opportunities or people you can speak to about expanding your musical career. The worst that can happen is that they say no, so you ask someone else.

And if they, or some other opportunities, *do* say no–please remember that it’s not the end of the world. Each time someone says “No” you just brush it off and get on your way. Be scrappy. Find another way.

As Thomas Edison said, “When you feel like you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.” With some gutsiness on your part, I promise someone or something will eventually say “Yes!”

Ultimately, the fact is that you can’t get anything if you’re not willing to give something of yourself. And if you do so with good intentions and earnestness, the return rate usually is not only equal to but surpasses the original input. Wishing you the best in your journey!

Stay Peaceful,
PD

More reader questions on Ask PD: I Can’t Eat Soy or Nutritional Yeast

Our Non Vegan Friends Are Avoiding Us

How Do I Quiet the “Should” Voices in My Head?

Related: How to Overcome a Quarter Life Crisis

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Photo: doctoreau via Flickr

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