Social Anxiety and Career


#1

Hi, all. I’m new here, just started online therapy this week. I’m excited, at 31, to finally be embarking on overcoming the fear, anxiety, and isolation that has dogged me ever since preschool.

Social anxiety has held me back in pretty much all areas of my life, but it’s made a heavy impact on my career. I’ve had sooo many jobs since graduating from college and I feel like I’ve blown all the good opportunities that I received because I didn’t know at the time what SAD was and I was just trying to survive (or avoid things) the best way I could. I never rose to my fullest potential and usually I ran from jobs because the anxiety got too great.

Now I’m unemployed and discouraged. I’m having to face my less-than-stellar past with a choppy work history that raises a lot of red flags. I have finally identified a career that I am actually interested in, but it requires a lot of excellent communication and people skills and would require me to lead projects and do quite a bit of speaking in front of a group. Once again I feel held back by my fears. I just think that now would not be a good time for me to pursue that career because I’m just starting the SAI series and I don’t know how to deal with my SA yet.

Has anyone been in this situation before? Have you intentionally not pursued a career that you want because you don’t feel ready for it? Have you gotten a survival job (low-level) that you don’t really care much about so that you can build up your coping skills? I feel scared that I may not ever get to that place of feeling confident. Or that I may not be able to get into the career anyway, since I’ve made so many mistakes and bad performance in the past.

I am feeling discouraged about my employment future.


#2

Hi Liz,

My situation was similar. I was studying psychology in college and felt stupid because I saw myself as being hopelessly disconnected from people and had no business being a counselor or psychologist. I was definitely afraid of being a behavioral health tech (BHT) when I graduated. My survival job was working in a file room at a hospital which was stressful enough but luckily I was able to stay there for a few years. However, I felt ashamed because I had my degree but wasn’t applying it since my current job only required a diploma. What made matters worse was when I did start applying for BHT positions none of the employer ever got back to me. It was like I didn’t exist. The only reason why I was able find a position was actually because I met someone through Dr. R’s group that worked for a behavioral health company and she helped me out. I graduated ASU in 2010 and did not start as a BHT until 2013.

Having social anxiety hurts us occupationally for so many reasons. 1. We’re afraid of so many work environments because we’re pressured to interact with others. 2. We tend to struggle with networking since we have to approach people to do that. 3. Even if we do find employment, we end up getting stuck and miss out on promotions because we’re “too quiet” and go unnoticed by our managers.

When seeking employment and being employed we have to really focus on being rational every day. I always tell myself on my way to work that I choose to have a good day because whether my day is good or bad always depends on my perspective. And I always give myself rational credit. Whether I applied for a position or just did my normal routine at work. For us, those are accomplishments.

Anyways, I hope my ranting somehow helped you with starting your career. Best wishes.

-Jonathan


#3

Hi Liz don’t get to my age and have nothing but regrets, I’m more than double your age, and have nothing but regrets, it held me back so much,
I knew I was intelligent, but somehow I felt stupid because I had this,
I think our problem is we have a greater sense of awareness, which I think is a sign of intelingents, and our self consciousness is through the roof,
It was only in the 80s that this disorder was given a name,
If only this therapy had of been around years ago,
But if I had know then what I know now, I know I would have beaten this,
I have made progress,
But what I would say is eat the therapy, it’s the repetition, reprogramming that changes brain chemistry,
Your changing the neural pathways in your brain,
I never would have believed that saying things and reading things to yourself out loud in slow talk n
changes your whole way thinking and feeling.
I can’t empathize how much, slow talk really helped me, relaxing move into your peace zone, just get strategies ,statements deep down into your brain, so you don’t you don’t forget them, get working on it


#4

Thanks for sharing your experience, Jonathan. I’m glad you found a position in the job you wanted!


#5

Thanks for the encouragement! The patience and slow day-by-day process is the hard part for me, lol.


#6

I can definitely relate. I’m also pretty new at this, just started session 3. At least you have figured out a career you are interested in and want to pursue. That’s great! Also, starting the program in order to get your anxiety in control will help you make the steps towards your new career, so that’s something to feel proud of. I’m 6 years older than you and trying to switch careers, but I’m so used to making all my decisions around my anxiety that I don’t even know what I want to do once I’ve got it under control.

Yes, I went into a career just to survive (low paying, undervalued) and that was 12 years ago. I had been in nursing school, but my anxiety prevented me from completing my degree. I’m excited for the day when I can switch careers and do what I WANT to do, not just what I feel I can handle with anxiety. That’s what pushed me to start this program; I’m sick of watching life pass me by.

Good luck!


#7

I’m in the same boat too. I’ve missed a lot of good opportunities because I didn’t think I was good enough and I’ve let people influence my life and decisions too much. I’m 30 now and it’s time for me to take charge and to do things for me.

I’ve decided to study next year and yes I do feel nervous. My last job made my social anxiety a lot worse and I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to recover from it. I worked on a small isolated camp with about 8 thousand people where you had a tiny room and every time you walked outside there was always someone there. 95% of the camp were men and most of them had no respect for women. There wasn’t much to do outside of work either… my self confidence really dropped. But since leaving I’m beginning to gain my confidence back and believe in myself!

It’s time to have a career that I enjoy and deserve… oh and yes I went to uni and my social anxiety has definitely gotten in the way of everything, which is why I have worked mainly in hospitality roles and have had at least 30 jobs.