I struggled with social anxiety for a long time. Even ordering pizza by phone was an ordeal. Before dialing in to the pizzeria, my hands would start sweating and I would take a few deep breaths. As I waited, many thoughts would run through my mind. “One large Hawaiian, one medium Pepperoni…wait, was it the other way around? And what about drinks? Right, sprite! But wait, what size sprite did mom want? Oh no, I forgot to ask…”
By this point, if the guy picked up, I would hang up immediately in a panic. I was not able to face a stranger without all the information on hand. This type of social anxiety was debilitating. With each new interaction, I would get more frustrated at myself for not responding as fast or as competently as I wanted others to perceive me. I felt like a basket case all the time.
Finally, after a particularly embarrassing day, I agreed to go with my parents to the meditation center they practiced at. Through meditation, I realized that my social anxiety was caused by my chronically low self-esteem and a desperate need for approval, which came from the life that I lived. I had the quiet time I needed to calmly reflect on myself and discard all of those ‘pictures’ of my life lived.
I now work as a meditation instructor, which requires me to meet with total strangers every day. I give presentations in front of groups of people and I interact with them without any anxiety. I can genuinely say that I am excited to meet people now.
For those who are suffering from social anxiety, I just want to say… take a deep breath, relax, and take a step back to observe yourself. Instead of obsessing over the problem, take a look at where it came from. Meditation is the tool that will help you do so.