It’s the Worst Possible Time of the Year: Social Jitters and Holidays

Getting over your shyness is not an easy feat, I’m already a quarter through my expected lifespan yet I still struggle with it from time to time. Social anxiety is a pain in the ass, because it usually strikes during the times you want to make a good impression. Your mind is racing, and you end up sounding completely aloof, even though you’re thinking a million things; your circuits are fried, man.

Everyone already knows holiday parties mean friends of friends, networking, family, and people you’ve only seen from the internet. So what does this really mean then? Liquor. Before you fill up that flask though,  remember what happened last time you got plastered with your co-workers and ended up barfing up a teriyaki bowl  in the middle of the bar. Sure, it makes for good conversation, but then again, you get to experience the shame and anxiety of acting a damn fool in front of the people you spend half your day with.

Okay, so facing your demons doesn’t sound fun at all, and who really has time for that crap anyway? Well, you don’t have to spend a month in some retreat in the mountains, or go on some existential quest into East Asia, although that would be awesome, and surely beneficial. For us plebeians, it can be hard to create changes that last after a week. So, forget any instant remedies, you’re not going to miraculously turn into a smooth talking Sam overnight, and that’s totally okay!

Your thought patterns are probably pretty screwed up. So try this:  for a few days, or as much as possible, listen to your internal dialogues: “I can’t believe I just said that, they probably think I’m a total ass-face now.” “I look like crap.” “Everyone sucks.” Sound familiar? Once you realize you’re setting ridiculously high standards and being a total jerk to yourself, you can help catch these thoughts while they’re happening. Dissecting the thoughts you have can help you understand why you’re freaking out about nothing, or exaggerating your circumstance. At this very moment, are you in trouble? Is something seriously wrong? Most likely, your answer will be no. You’re not getting hacked up by Jeffrey Dahmer Jr, or watching your family die in a fire. Why is this relevant? You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, and the past is already over, so chill out. If you’re constantly worried about a future that you have constructed out of fear, you’re just going to act like a doofus, therefore, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Live fully in the moment and catch those negative moments when you spot them.

So now that you have some tools to help you feel more balanced, let’s take this further. Try some of these methods out, which can help relieve you of your jitters or at least make it seem that way:

1. Talk slow. If you’re scrambling mentally, don’t let all that garbage come out of your mouth, instead take the rhythm down a few notches, you’ll be surprised!
2. Listen. You don’t have to be super chatty to not seem like a total weirdo; people love when people are genuinely interested in what they’re saying without constant interruptions. You don’t have to go out and prove you’re super talkative, part of being yourself is not having to prove you’re someone else.
3. Remember WYTIWYF. What You Think Is What You Feel. So get stoked.
4. Be conscious of your body, are you looking like you’re scared out of your mind? Loosen up, if you can’t, just mimic other people’s posture.
5. Smile. Yay! You’re awesome!
6. Don’t think you’re the only nervous one, most people have at least some social nervousness, especially in the age of internet friends.
7. Remember this is your life and you shouldn’t worry about these kinds of things.