The Princess Saves Herself in This One and Milk and Honey. Both Tumblr classics, but to me they are more than just that: both poem collections talk about women who struggled to find their voice, but found it eventually anyway – and that, my dear friends, is something I can strongly relate to. I used to be so shy that “introverted” doesn’t even cover it. I was sincerely scared to talk, but look at me now – do I ever even shut up? To help those that can relate to the extreme introversion I experienced, I decided to write down how I overcame it.
I guess maybe “overcoming it” is a bit strongly put. It is not something you can heal from – you’ll always be introverted, in the end, because that’s just who you are and there is nothing wrong with that. And frankly, I feel like accepting that nothing is wrong with you is the first step into getting over your fear of talking. I know it might seem like this to you, but people won’t dislike you or think you are odd just because you’re silent. The only reason you think they do is because you think of yourself that way. Once you can positively influence how you perceive yourself, it will be a lot easier to overcome your fear of speaking, because you won’t be afraid of “what people might think”.
Besides that, I’m sure you’ve heard tons of people say that “the only way to overcome your fear is to face it” – and as shitty and awful it might be, it is true. You might start feeling queasy or even get a panic attack the first time you try to speak up, and it might go horribly wrong and make you feel awful, but that’s only normal. The only thing that can completely destroy fear is routine – so get your shit together and try again. The more you do what you’re scared of, the more you’ll get used to it, and the less scared you will be. Easier said than done, I know – but take the word from someone who has done this: it works.
Last but not least, you need to challenge yourself. “Isn’t that what you meant with the last paragraph?” I wish it was that easy, dear, but I’m afraid not. Facing your fear is one thing – getting completely over it is something completely different. You can force yourself to pick up the phone a thousand times, but finally being able to pick up a call without shaking does not mean you’re ready to make one. You need to take what you’re scared of, drag it to the next level and do that. Accept every opportunity to speak without thinking twice about it, so you can’t turn back once you’ve accepted it. Put yourself out there, and make the best of it.
Maybe I make it seem easier than it is, in this post. “Follow these three easy steps to get over your speaking anxiety!” I’m afraid, though, that it is not. Speaking anxiety is a thing that I have been struggling with since the first year of high school, and I only finally figured out how to deal with it after I graduated. It will take time – lots of time – but it is not impossible, and I know you can do it.
- L. Parole