If you've known me for more than five minutes, you probably think I am a massive extrovert. It's not uncommon to see me in the middle of the action cracking jokes and throwing in a random dance move. But would you guess that I've had social anxiety since I was a little kid? In 2019 I discovered the unexpected answer to my crippling social anxiety and today I'm sharing it with you.
Earlier this year I realized why I was no longer as anxious when it came to group gatherings. I used to spend days dreading going to functions, only to usually cancel a few hours before. It was an uncontrollable feeling that left me feeling lonelier than ever. But in the past two years I've stopped cancelling last minute. The trick?
Becoming a leader.
I first noticed the chance in my Junior League chapter when I became a leader for new member groups. Suddenly I was the one everyone knew (because I was their leader) and there was no need to worry about party details because I was planning them. How could I cancel on a party I was throwing? For the first time in my Junior League career I was attending every social function.
This past year I was the chair for the new member committee. A big deal. And again I was the one planning parties, the familiar name everyone knew, the person included in every email/Zoom/event. By being in the know, I no longer needed to feel anxious about what was waiting on the other end. At events I was more at ease, and found myself more likely to talk to people I barely knew (which is a little intimidating on a Zoom call!) Where I once would fret over every little detail of a social gathering, I now looked forward to talking to as many people as I could.
And this concept bleeds into more than just actual leadership positions. I put the theory to the test the other week when a friend of mine asked me to play bartender for her housewarming party. She was the only soul I knew. Two years ago, this scenario would have sent me into a tizzy. I waited for the anxiety to kick in, the sick feeling in my stomach that made me crawl into a ball and watch Netflix instead of go out. It never came. Instead I translated leadership into "having purpose" and focused on being bartender. Getting all my mixology items and bringing them to her house, thinking about ice, etc. Once I was at the party there was no need to feel anxious because the little bit of power I had - drinks - was covered. By having this purpose at the party, which also makes an easy topic of conversation, I felt extremely comfortable talking to a room full of strangers. I was initiating conversation! Big win for Morgan.
As we begin the transition out of extreme pandemic quarantine, it excites me to know that I have better control over my social anxiety. When I have an event that gives that pit in my stomach it's time to find a purpose/leadership position. Once I have that we're golden!
My world feels more open without constant social anxiety. What are you doing about yours?
Stay classy y'all!