I can remember being anxious as early as middle school. I was already starting to become anxious and self-conscious in many social situations, but the one setting where anxiety was the worst was in the classroom.
There were a few times where I said something in class and had the entire class laugh at me, and as a result I soon became afraid of speaking up in class. I would become anxious whenever the teacher was calling on students to answer questions, hoping that I would never get called on in fear of embarrassing myself. I also avoided asking questions to prevent embarrassment.
Whenever I had to participate in a group activity in class I would become extremely uncomfortable and would not contribute or talk much because of my self-consciousness. It became so bad that I didn’t even want to write anything on the board in class. I soon hated being in class because of my anxiety, and it seemed to only get progressively worse.
In high school, my anxiety bled into other social situations, but the one area it hit me the hardest was on the telephone. My self-consciousness grew so much over the years that I did not want to talk to people on the phone, in fear that the person on the other end of the line would judge me for what I would say and think I was weird or an idiot. It didn’t matter who the other person was on the phone. It could have been a complete stranger, such as a customer service rep for the bank or even just a random store clerk; I would still be terrified of having to talk to them.
Just the thought of possibly embarrassing myself on the phone by saying something wrong or out of place would make my anxiety skyrocket to the point where I decided I wouldn’t be able to make the phone call. And when I absolutely had to call someone, I would put if off to the last minute, and have severe anticipatory anxiety leading up to the time I made the call. Then, I would have trouble paying attention to what the person on the other line was saying because my anxiety was so high.
Naturally, I knew in the back of my mind that I shouldn’t care about what the other person on the phone thought of me, but my anxiety was so strong that I couldn’t think about it rationally. So I would try to avoid making phone calls as much as possible.
Completing the "Overcoming Social Anxiety" therapy series and attending the group at the Social Anxiety Institute changed my life. I am now currently attending a university, after several years of avoiding school. I feel less anxious and self-conscious being in a classroom with other students, and I have been able to answer and ask questions in class while experiencing very little anxiety.
There have even been a few occasions where I have volunteered to share my opinion in class discussions, which is something I would have never considered doing back in high school. The cognitive behavioral series made me realize that speaking up in class would probably not be that bad, and I now know that I don’t have to be anxious in class anymore.
In addition to going to school, I currently work full-time at a job where I occasionally have to make phone calls to several different offices. I no longer have any anticipatory anxiety before making phone calls, and experience minimal anxiety when talking on the phone. I don’t worry about how the conversation will go or if the other person will judge me anymore, as I learned from the audio series that it’s really no big deal.
I am also able to focus on what the person on the other line is saying, thanks to the calming strategies from the therapy series. It feels great to just pick up the phone and make a phone call without even thinking about it. I know that I would not have been able to do these things if it wasn’t for the audio series and the group at the Social Anxiety Institute.