We’re Dunzo: Managing Social Anxiety in a “Cancel Culture”

Anxiety is fun because you get to replay each of your interactions with other people and experience shame and regret over and over again until you die.

Me

I told myself I would use this space to untangle myself when I start to spin out. And I’ve been spinning out a little lately. So in the spirit of Daring Greatly…

*Sigh*

Living with depression and (social) anxiety is really fucking hard. The DAILY negotiation for your self-worth with your own brain chemistry…brain chemistry that predisposes you to believe not only that something is wrong, but that what’s wrong is likely…you.

It’s exhausting.

At the heart of social anxiety (mine at least) is the fear of being seen. Fearing that if I let myself be vulnerable and subject to evaluation and judgement that I will be found wanting. It’s knowing that I’m imperfect and believing that if anyone finds out…

I’m afraid of making mistakes.

Everyone feels this on some level. But for some of us, it’s pathological. It keeps us awake when we should be sleeping. It makes our hearts beat way too fast and all the blood rush to our heads and burn in our cheeks.

It used to be that I could try to reason with myself. I could tell myself that people make mistakes and it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. But now?

None of us seem to be particularly inclined to forgiveness these days. We’re all so tired. We’re all out of patience. Crappy people get “cancelled” for their offenses. And, as someone who battles a chronic fear of screwing up, this reality is…challenging.

Please don’t get me wrong. The world is batcrap crazy right now and all of us have to DEMAND better. We have to hold people accountable. All too often the “cancellation” is justified.

But knowing this intellectually doesn’t make it any easier to manage my social anxiety in this high-stakes context. When I’m in a low spot I worry constantly (irrationally) about messing up. And this fear often compels me to make myself as small as possible. To just stay out everyone’s way.

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.

Brené Brown

But here’s the thing…everyone, and I mean everyone, is fallible. Even that person who seems to have all the confidence in the world. Even that person who seems sooooo certain of herself. She’s doesn’t and she’s not.

You are allowed to make mistakes. Own them, yes. Flagellate yourself over them? Please don’t. You are allowed to rock the boat and to tell the truth. You do NOT have to contort yourself to meet someone else’s standards.

And always remember this: just because someone doesn’t like you doesn’t mean you are unlikable. Just because someone doesn’t value you doesn’t mean you aren’t valuable. Just because someone finds you lacking doesn’t mean you are less. It’s okay. You are okay. No one can really cancel you. You’re a fucking human being.

Life is hard. Books help.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown is a book I turn to over and over again when I’m in an anxiety tailspin. It’s thought provoking and insightful and it taught me that our true power is actually embracing our imperfections… not hiding them. If you haven’t read this one yet, do it!

Oh. Also. If you think you might be struggling with depression and anxiety…talk to your doctor!!! Please. Don’t suffer. Do NOT white knuckle this bullshit. ❤️

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