For those of you who don’t know what this blog refers to, check on Part 1 here. The short update, is that I have social anxiety. I am going to be using a Cognitive Therapy workbook and challenging myself to certain social situations that I would normally avoid in an attempt to make my anxiety easier to cope with. I’ll be blogging about the experience the whole way through.
I had a great response to the first blog, and I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive of this project. It’s really scary, but I think it will be really good for me. My first outing is on Friday night, but in the meantime, I thought I would talk about some of the questions I’ve been getting in regards to this project.
1. If you have social anxiety, why would you blog about it?
Well, I had the idea for this project (without the blogging aspect) back in January. I thought “You should do things that scare you on a regular basis. Maybe by doing it a lot, it will get less scary.” I had the thought and then….never followed through. It was so much safer to just hang out in my room with my dog.
To be fair, I am extremely busy working full time and developing various web projects on the side. On top of that, there seemed to be a new event or outing to stress about that I had to do for my work every month, so the idea of adding onto that was too overwhelming. I abandoned the idea. I just couldn’t do it.
During this time, I was also trying to come up with a good blog for the LxL site. I wanted to blog regularly, but everything I thought of was already being done somewhere else. I just couldn’t think of anything new and interesting.
Then, the League of Ladies Meetup in Los Angeles got rolling. As I watched the Facebook RSVPs go up and up and up, I started to freak out. Like, seriously freak out. And I didn’t want to go. I kept trying to find reasons to skip it. To skip a party that I had helped to set up and PLAN with my closest friends.
At that point, the ridiculousness of my situation started to really sink in. There was NO WAY I could miss that party, and there was absolutely no reason in the world for me to be as scared of it as I was. But as the RSVPs approached 200, I started to fall down the rabbit hole of Freak Out. I didn’t want to be scared of such a fun, exciting event. I wanted to be looking forward to it. (FYI – I ended up having a good time, and I was very glad I went. But the party was overwhelming and I don’t remember a lot of it.)
So the anxiety about the Meet Up was the final impetus for me to really make this happen. I thought to myself, “I’m never going to be able to take on this project and make myself better on my own. I just won’t do it. But if I blog about this experience, then someone is holding me accountable. People are expecting me to do these things, and write about them. I’ll have to do it. And maybe it will help people. Maybe there are other people out there who are just like me, and would really like to read about someone like them who is trying to make it better.”
So I asked the League founders what they thought, and they were SO supportive. I knew this was the right decision.
Yes, it is EXTRA scary to be writing about it. I posted the intro blog on July 6th and spent the next three days with my anxiety jacked up at least 50%. I felt like I had taken my most intimate secret and shoved it under a microscope for anyone on the internet to look at. I genuinely had no idea that I would feel that way once I started this. But I’m getting more and more used to the idea, and the support from my friends and the readers has really helped me feel less anxious about the experience.
2. You’re an actress. How can someone with social anxiety be an actress?
They are two totally separate things. A lot of people are under the impression that actors choose their profession because they like attention. And, believe me, there are a lot of people who go into acting because they like attention. But those people rarely stick around for long. Acting isn’t about getting attention. I imagine it means something different to everyone, but for ME, it’s about spending your life inhabiting any and every different facet of humanity. It’s about exploring the human condition: our emotions, experiences, dreams and failures. It’s about showing the truth of humanity in such a way that you touch people by making them laugh, cry, or just think about things in a new way.
And it’s damn hard. The life of an actor isn’t easy. You don’t put up with being constantly poor, constantly rejected, and constantly terrified that you’ve made a terrible mistake in your career choice just because you want attention. You live the life because you love what you do, and can’t imagine ever doing anything else.
Also, standing up on stage and playing a role isn’t the same as standing up in front of a group of people as yourself and speaking. It’s hard to explain, but it’s different. You’re inserting yourself into a world. You’re aware of the audience, and depending on the show maybe interacting with them, but it’s an entirely different animal than public speaking.
That being said, I have horrendously awful stage fright. I’ve never thrown up, but I get so nauseated that I usually can’t do much but sit in a chair with my IPod rocking back and forth. Seriously, I look like Rainman right before a show opens. But the second I step on stage, it disappears like it was never there. Shooting a film is a bit different, but there is still an audience. The first couple of days on set, I’m SO anxious that the crew are watching me thinking “Damn, she sucks. Why did they cast her?” But after a couple of days, you get to know everyone and then I’m able to just concentrate on the work without worrying as much about what everyone thinks. It helps that I’m happier when I’m on set working than anywhere else in the world.
Thanks again for reading everyone. Your support really means so much to me. Friday night I go see Harry Potter at a busy movie theatre by myself. I’m not going to lie…I’m not looking forward to it. But I’m very excited about the prospect of making myself better. So onward and upward!