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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a continuation of my older thread: http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f10/100-exposure-exercises-67543/

It would be nice to get the next 25 things during the month of September. That probably means stacking more than one thing on some days. If I keep a good pace, I could be done by the end of the year.

001. First waltz dance lesson. (September 3, 2009)
002. Made small talk with a stranger at the gym. (September 8, 2009)
003. Volunteered to work the registration table at a convention. (September 12, 2009)
004. Introduced myself to a dozen or so people at the convention. (September 12, 2009)
005. Competed in a debate competition. (September 13, 2009)
006. Attended a social anxiety meetup. (September 13, 2009)
007. Rehearsed with a new band for the first time. (September 15, 2009)
008. Went to the tour I arranged for my networking group. (September 17, 2009)
009. Gave a Table Topics talk at Toastmasters. (September 18, 2009)
010. Hosted another meetup. (September 23, 2009)
011. Finished my waltz class. (Septemebr 24, 2009)
012. Went to a community ed tree planting class. (September 26, 2009)
013. Got a 15 minute massage at work. (September 30, 2009)
014. Went to a Halo 3 party at a stranger's house. (October 2, 2009)
015. Went to bachelor party. (October 3, 2009)
016. Hosted another meetup. (October 4, 2009)
017. Went to a group guitar class. (October 5, 2009)
018. Asked a question to one of the staff at the gym. (October 6, 2009)
019. Hosted another meetup. (October 7, 2009)
020. Gave a prepared speech at a Toastmasters meeting. (October 8, 2009)
021. Volunteered for a party planning meeting for one of my clubs. (October 15, 2009)
022. Went into a bar alone and ordered a drink. (October 16, 2009)
023. Went to a meetup. (October 16, 2009)
024. Went on a club trip. (October 17, 2009)
025. Hosted another meetup. (October 18, 2009)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So, to start things off, I signed up for more dance lessons at the same place I went to in July. This time it was waltz dancing.

I got there a few minutes early, and I had some time to sit in the car. I was really surprised by how nervous I was. I felt my eyes tearing up, and I was on the verge of wanting to throw up. I thought it would be better than this, since I'd already done lessons before. All I could do is tell myself it wouldn't be so bad once I got started.

The first thing I noticed was the very low attendance this time around. There were about 9 people, some of them were late, but somehow the gender ratio was balanced. So it was a little different environment than the last time I went.

Since there were so few people, the instructor/owner had some time to mingle and chit chat. He introduced himself to me and we talked for a couple minutes. I don't think I did a great job at conversing, but it's more than I would have usually done.

The actual lesson was a mixed bag, like last time. The instructor had to stop and give me some extra attention again, but by the end of it I seemed to be doing fine. I don't like the fact that people can pick up my nervousness so easily.

After it was over and I was going out to my car, I said good night to a couple and they started some small talk with me. Again, I don't feel like I did a good job, but I went beyond my usual habits.

Anxiety level: 8 out of 10
Good points: Persistence in the face of anxiety. Making small talk.
Things to work on: Posture and voice control. Being more spontaneous and empathetic during small taik.
 

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I think you did a good job just getting out of that car and going in even when you were really anxious. I really wish you success on your next 24 exercises.
I'll be reading along. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I've had a less than auspicious start to this thread...between the holiday weekend and some car troubles I haven't gotten much done.

Not sure if I should count it, but I will anyway...on Tuesday I made some small talk with a guy in the locker room at the gym. He was new and had some questions about it. Unfortunately, he wasn't a native English speaker, so the language barrier was a pain. But I did stick around and we talked about our jobs for a few minutes.

Tomorrow I have a Toastmasters meeting and another waltz lesson. This weekend and next week I should have a few more new things going on. The only ideas I have right now are:
- Go to more coffee shops...maybe bring a folder to work on, so I don't feel so out of place.
- Go to the nightclub. I haven't worked out the courage to do this yet.
- Go see a performance at the comedy club.
- Do my first speech at Toastmasters.
- Look on my town's website for more things to do. (not much, unfortunately)
 

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It seems awkward doing these things, I know. Sometimes it seems like your not learning anything at all but every bit of exposure is an experience that you will keep stored. One possible major hope is eventually you'll be doing these things with a different mind state that is comforting towards you. Ironically, I've found that when your out and about doing things your initially afraid of, and your getting used to it, you'll begin telling yourself that it’s unnecessary you put yourself through this because you've learned all you could and there is nothing more for you here, unless, of course, you enjoy the place in itself. This is an example of proving and knowing that you are capable of certain things. To know your as capable as the next will benefit your esteem and it'll stick with you. You could see it as trying to find that balance of comfort zones where you stay in the middle neither exceeding or being too passive.

At any rate, your learning and your doing it! Your doing everything your setting out to do which is 100% goal-completed. The rest is improvising. Perhaps you could work on positive mental affirmations WHILE in the situations? Just a suggestion… Keep it up!!!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, here's how my day went:
Got four hours of sleep the night before. Missed my Toastmasters meeting at work; I had a department meeting that ran over and I didn't want to step out early. After work I went to the gym; I barely hit my goal on the treadmill, but I was too tired to go on the weight machines. Right after that I drove to the other side of town for my dance lesson. I'd say it went good for the first half hour, then downhill for the second half. I don't know if it's because I get tired, or more self-conscious, or what. Whatever it is, I feel like a wet noodle by the end of it.

I sort of had my eye on a 20-something woman who comes to the classes alone. After the class is over there's sort of a milling around period before the next class. She was standing around and reading a magazine, but I felt like it would've been way too pushy to try to get her attention and start a conversation. So I just went to the bathroom and left.

I drove around for a while, then I stopped and parked at the nightclub again. It's actually a club and a sports bar joined together, so it attracts two distinct crowds at night, neither of which I have anything in common with. I sat in the car for a few minutes, then went home.

I don't feel great right now, but these kinds of days happen. I'm going to make myself some rice and vegetables, then clean my apartment for a little while before I go to bed. I have plans to get out of the house on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so maybe something good will happen on one of those days.
 

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Don't forget that you need your downtime too! It's just as important :) GJ

May I ask you what specific thing your trying to accomplish by doing these things?
Example:
-Getting comfortable going out to public places
-Making friends/girlfriend

I ask because I sometimes don't do things without a personal goal in mind. You may of already stated what that is but I may of missed it -- just curious.
 

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Wow, way to put yourself out there. Those are some rough places to go with social anxiety and alone (the club/dance lessons). I hope it works out for you:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, I've had a busy week...not sure how much I want to write here, but I'll try to hit the highlights.

I'm part of a young professionals group that had a convention in town last weekend. I signed up to volunteer at the registration desk, though I didn't really know what I was getting into. It wasn't too bad...I mostly handed out name tags, checked IDs and put wristbands on people.

On Saturday I was asked to participate in a "practice" debate at convention. Supposedly there was one team that just needed a few people to stand in as practice opponents. I was on the fence but I was told that this was purely for practice.

So I got there with my partners, and this was the actual deal...this was "the" debate competition for convention and there were people there who came in just to watch. There was only one other team, so we had to sign in as a team that was going to compete with them. All three of us had zero debate experience and had no idea how the thing was going to run.

It turned out I had to go up and speak for three minutes, for my part in the debate. Before and after that, I tried to take notes and pass them to my teammates to help them out. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. We didn't win, but I think we did well considering the circumstances, and I'm sure we lost a lot of points on minor technicalities.

I got a few compliments saying I did really well...I do have to say I felt pretty good and more confident the whole rest of the day. After that, I had a social anxiety meetup to go to that night (not mine).

I went to a Toastmasters meeting at work today...I'm officially a member now, but this was only my second meeting. I got called on for Table Topics, which basically meant I had to stand up and give a 2 minute talk about a random topic. I got up and talked about some childhood memories of my favorite TV shoes and movies. I'm sure I stuttered a lot, but I survived it. So that's been sort of my initiation. In two weeks I'll be giving a prepared speech that's supposed to be 8 minutes long or so.

I did a couple other things, but those are the big ones from a social anxiety perspective. Obviously this is progress for me...I still have a long way to go, though.
 

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I like this thread a great deal, their are quite a few things that I would really like to try, toastmasters is one..I am fairly certain that I will attend the meeting this week, also their are free swing dancing lessons hosted by my school every Wednesday..If I get out of class on time I will hopefully attend one of them.

I even made a very similar thread, but not as organized..I should work on that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It's about time I updated this again...basically, I'm about halfway to my goal of 25.

Wednesday: I hosted another meetup, this time we just went to a bar. There's not much to say about it. I did feel a little bit anxious, as it was just me and two other people and I felt like it was up to me to keep the conversation going. But they said I didn't seem I had any problems at all.

Thursday: I went to my fourth (and last) waltz lesson after I couldn't make it last week. This time I felt a little more relaxed, and I didn't mind asking the instructor or my dance partner to help me work through a certain move. I think I just need more repetition to learn than the average person does.

I wanted to top off the night by going into the club and ordering a drink, but I still couldn't push myself to go through with it. I think what I need is to go in on a Monday or Tuesday evening, when there's not a lot of people, but it's not deserted either.

Saturday: I got up early to go to a four hour class about tree planting. I felt a little out of place at first, as I'm not a very outdoorsy person, but I gradually settled in. I didn't really talk to anyone there, but I'm still surprised I actually went through with it. The city needs volunteers to help with tree planting and I might do that in the future.

There was a party I knew about that day, but I didn't go to it. Shame on me, I guess.

* * *​

So, just some general thoughts. I think one thing holding me back is being lazy about my schedule, and not planning out my daily itinerary like I should. Now that I'm gradually taking on more obligations, it's easy to let this project fall by the wayside.

Another thing is the lack of a consistent sleep schedule. It doesn't help that I have a job where I basically set my own hours. Some days I'm up very early, other days I'm up very late. Sometimes I miss events just because I'm too tired and I have to crash. This wouldn't be an issue if I at least had a consistent schedule.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
May I ask you what specific thing your trying to accomplish by doing these things?
Example:
-Getting comfortable going out to public places
-Making friends/girlfriend
I never got around to responding to this...I guess in the abstract sense, I want to have freedom. I want to be able to travel anywhere, or visit any place, or meet any group of people, and not feel anxious about it. So that includes things like going into the bar alone and ordering a drink. If I thought about doing that a year ago, I would've been half out of my mind with terror. So I guess I've made progress in that department.

Beyond that, I'd like to have a network, support group, social circle or whatever you want to call it. I'm very slowly making some acquaintances through the activities I'm doing, but I can't guarantee those will go anywhere.

Eventually I'd like some kind of girlfriend, and I'd like to be able to do some kind of cold approaching at parties, bars, clubs, etc. This goes back to the whole freedom thing again, maybe I won't meet a life partner that way, but I at least want the freedom to try it and enjoy it at least a little bit. But it seems like I still need to build up a lot more experience and confidence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I got a 15 minute massage at work yesterday. I'm not sure if I've ever gotten a professional massage before. It was a man doing it, but I don't know if it would have been more or less comfortable for me if it were a woman. I have a hard time thinking of getting my back and neck massaged as something completely non-sexual, but I didn't let it get to me either.

I did feel more physically relaxed for about 30 minutes. I'm not sure if there would be more of a long term effect if I did it more often.

I thought I'd drive by the nightclub again after I got out of the gym...it's bad weather tonight and the place was pretty much deserted. Since I wanted to do SOMEthing, I went into the bar next door, used the bathroom, went out and drove home. That was still somewhat anxiety provoking, I had that feeling of going "behind enemy lines"...

I have invitations to two parties, one tomorrow and one Saturday. They're both very different and will give me some good experience if I can force myself to go to them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I got invited to a Halo 3 party on Friday. I showed up about 30 minutes late, but they were still setting up. I briefly met the host, but I didn't really talk to anyone besides the guy who invited me. Still, I'll chalk it up as progress. I was there for about 4 hours. I hadn't played in a long time, but I wasn't quite as bad as I thought I was going to be.

The next day I was invited to an acquaintance's bachelor party. It was really just a bunch of guys going out to the bar. I was debating at the last minute whether or not I should even go, but I decided I couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least go out and eat with the guys.

Today I hosted another meetup with my meetup group. Again, only one person showed up. This group might turn out to be a failed idea, I don't know.
 

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Reading this thread is so inspiring.

It's so great that you're getting out there and getting used to these things.
Also, that Halo 3 party sounds like it was awesome. You may not have talked to many people, but you went to a party and stayed for about 4 hours. That's more than a lot of people can say.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I guess I can update this...

Monday I went to a group guitar class. I had been in the building only once before -- it was a school -- and I found the room a few minutes late, but the class hadn't gotten started yet. It was basically two hours of instruction for people who didn't know anything about guitar. I've tried to learn before, but I've never had anyone to show me anything, so the class was helpful as extremely basic as it was. Again, I didn't really talk to anyone, but I showed up and felt fairly confident the whole time, even when I was struggling with a couple things.

Today was just a couple small things...I asked the desk worker at the gym about their tanning plans. This is a small thing, but I never even really thought to do it before, and when I finally did, it just seemed natural. She seemed a little cautious or standoffish, but I didn't personalize it. I just felt like maybe she was new, not feeling well, or maybe just a little slow. Anyway, I asked a couple questions and found out most of what I wanted to know.

I was also nominated for a board position of one of the clubs I'm in...if I get in next year, I'll be responsible for a lot of interaction with the club and organizing events. We'll see how it turns out. It seems like I have the support of the current board members.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, I'm just about at 25 for this thread, and 50 since I started keeping track in July. I hoped I would have done more by now, but I've had a lot of experiences in the past few months, and I think I'm on the way to making lasting changes in my life.

Since I've been busy with things, and I've been struggling to keep this up to date, and there doesn't seem to be much recent interest, I think I'm going to take a break from this thread (maybe the forum) for the rest of the year.

Maybe next year I'll plan ahead to finish my original goal of 100 exercises. I might finally start approaching strangers, as a few other people here have done more successfully than me.

I wish I would have continued to write in detail like I did at the beginning, but hopefully all these posts have helped a few people.
 
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