Saturday, 24 January 2015

On conquering small fears


I have always been a shy person. My social anxieties were at their worst in secondary school when I'd sometimes go whole days without speaking to anyone (unless I had to) and would blush bright red when picked on in class. At college I was even nicknamed 'silent Laura'. But by the time I left home and started university I finally began to find my feet and open up more to new people.

Over the years my shyness has waned and I've realised that most people feel shy, they're just good at hiding it!

One thing that still gives me the fear though is speaking in front of large groups of people. So last month when I was asked to run a workshop on social media for a group of ten I began feeling a little out of my depth. What if I couldn't get through it? What if the group found it boring?! But I knew I shouldn't say no to something that could improve my skills so I agreed to it and did some preparation in the weeks leading up.

And it really wasn't so bad! The group were all lovely and although I was nervous, I got through it (tip: bring biscuits, they definitely help the learning process!). I even got an email the next day from some of them thanking me for running the session. Hurray!

The second (slightly smaller) scary thing I had on my list this week was trying out contact lenses. The first time I tried it, things didn't go so well. I had bumped into an ex boyfriend just before my appointment and was feeling a little on edge, so when the assistant attempted to put the contact into my eye I couldn't cope, and burst into tears! Almost ten years on I decided to give it another go, and this morning I actually put in the lenses all by myself, I was pretty chuffed.

In this TED talk, Dr Ivan Joseph talks about methods of boosting confidence. His first tip is to persist with things that seem scary. Anything that takes you out of your comfort zone will inevitably make you nervous but the more we put ourselves in those situations, the easier we find them. Tom is always telling me the same thing, that if something scares you, you should do it more! And he's right. Even if it's a small achievement it's still something to be proud of. 

Do you ever lack confidence, which then stops you from trying something new? Or have you recently tried something outside your comfort zone? 
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7 comments

  1. Not only do I feel scared of new things but one of the most daunting things I've had to do was give social media training to a small group so, yes, this post was so, so familiar! But, like you say, forcing myself to do something anyway (and learning to hide the fear) has been the best way to move forward - I had to pep talk myself into university, every job application ever, sorting out a mortgage, every phone call to a tradesperson ever, pouncing on Steve, every yoga/art/whatever tasting session ever, but the pep talks get a little bit smaller each time as my confidence goes up.

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    1. Yes sometimes even things like trying out a new class can be scary, but usually they aren't half as bad as expected! I sometimes have to pep talk myself before meeting up with a group of people I might not know very well, I often find listening to music beforehand helps too!

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  2. I relate to all of this SO much. I've always been shy and socially anxious (although conversely I'm also a loud person - my voice has always been loud, even more so now I'm a teacher!) and I can be hard to shut up when I'm excited about something - so people often read me as a lot more confident than I am). Like Sarah, I have to talk myself into everything, especially if it involves talking or meeting people. Well done on giving the training! I find delivering stuff to adults excruciatingly nerve-wracking.

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    1. I think it takes a lot of confidence to get up and teach a class, I'd be especially nervous if i had to do it in front of inspectors (/Ofsted) so I really admire you for doing it!

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  3. I definitely need to take this advice when it comes to driving... I passed my test in August but recently I've been avoiding driving alone because it scares me (it's pretty busy where I live). I need to just force myself to go out and do it! x

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    1. I'm similar with driving these days too, as I've got out of the habit of it. It may help if you do short trips at first to places you're really familiar with like the supermarket or a friend's house? Or you could try driving at night if it's a bit quieter then.. I had a practice solo-drive to get some food the other week and quite enjoyed it in the end :-)

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  4. I'm ridiculously shy, to the point where it stops me from doing things I'd otherwise love to do - such as learning to drive and going for jobs I really want. Recently I've been trying to just push through it- taking a freelance marketing job where I'm meeting lots of new people, and doing things I've never done before (taking minutes at a meeting, writing newspaper articles), I get incredibly scared and anxious beforehand but it is almost never as bad as I think its going to be, often its a really positive experience. Completely agree with that TED talk, continually doing scary things builds confidence- thats why working in retail has actually been so good for me- talking to arsey people every day! Still, public speaking is my worst nightmare, so well done you!

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