Courage Despite Social Anxiety

by Lydia Minear, LPC

The definition of courage is “strength in the face of pain or grief.”  Often, the words courageous & brave conjure images of powerful characters who appear fearless, with endless confidence.  However, this does not align with the true meaning of courage.

Real courage means not having all the answers, yet proceeding forward anyway.  Courage asks us to accept our emotions such as fear, nervousness, and self-doubt while trying something difficult.  Living with courage involves accepting imperfections as a normal part of growth and a normal part of being human.

For individuals with social anxiety specifically, daily life can present with a need for courage.  Social anxiety is a fear of judgment and rejection.  A person with social anxiety feels in some way inadequate.  Many people have social fears.  To show up and be seen by others is not always easy.  Being excluded from a group and feeling different can instill pain that makes us afraid to be seen.  Hiding, which is a way of protecting oneself from potential judgement, keeps us on the outside looking in.  The consequence is loneliness and missing out.  Working through social anxiety is a process, one which involves exploring and undserstanding feelings and fears while moving towards greater self-acceptance and love for oneself.  Along the way, we can take steps to being seen.  The poem I have written below is inspired by the brave and beautiful journeys of individuals, clients and friends, who experience social anxiety yet live and grow despite their fears.

Courage: A Poem

Standing on the sidelines,

a spectator peering in.

Distant, safe, hidden and tame,

Yet inside an untapped flame.

An option lands before me.

Timid, I look down.

Sensing my heartbeat racing,

the question floats here now.

To remain still, the pull is strong,

tempted to stay warm here in my hole.

Yet, Courage, you nudge me, winking,

whispering desires within my soul.

Two steps forward, I am moving,

fear, uncertainty by my side.

Shaky legs and sweaty fingers,

nervous, in the scope of others’ sight.

Discovering purpose, I reach closer,

making room they let me in.

Blood pumping, I feel bolder.

Richly alive, I am seen.

Retreating – once an option,

now seems further from my mind.

Curiosity and excitement leading,

pushing me past the shy divide.

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Lydia is a Licensed Professional Counselor who enjoys working with individuals, teens, and families in the Marietta & Kennesaw area. She has a special passion for helping those suffering from social anxiety and issues with self-esteem.  Learn more about her and other therapists at Foundation Counseling here.

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