Are you anxious when you speak with your boss? Do you freeze up when out to dinner with friends when it’s time to order food? When you introduce yourself to a room full of people, do you find your voice shaking? At that moment, you may feel these anxieties are abnormal. However, the good news is that most people experience these feelings on a semi-regular basis, so you’re not alone. Here are five anxiety-inducing situations that are way more common than you probably thought.
When speaking to a group of people
It could be as casual as having to share your name and a fun fact about you with a classroom full of people you don’t know. To many, even just speaking a couple of simple words to a group can cause their hands to quiver and voices to shake. Fortunately, nervousness speaking in front of groups (even small ones) is incredibly reasonable. Fortunately, you probably don’t look as nervous as you are. Even when you can hear your voice faltering, the rest of the room probably can’t. That’s why it can seem like everyone else is confident, and you’re the only anxious one. The signs of your anxiety are often apparent only to you, but not to the rest of the room.
On first dates
A first date (or any social situation where you’re initially meeting someone) is the perfect recipe for an onslaught of anxious feelings. Encountering someone for the first time entails a myriad of unknown variables. Without knowing much about the person and how they communicate, it’s hard to approach the interaction with confidence. If you make a joke, will they find it funny? With so many unknown factors, it’s no surprise that you would feel anxious on a first date. Just keep in mind that the other person is probably in the same boat and try to relax.
When confronting a boss, teacher or higher-up
It doesn’t even have to be a conflicted-oriented confrontation. Initiating interactions with people you perceived to be “above you” is commonly anxiety-inducing. Often, these individuals (bosses, managers, teachers, police officers, etc.) are considered a “higher-up” because they hold some power over you. For that reason, a miscommunication risks drastic negative consequences. It’s only natural when navigating these interactions that you feel a bit on edge.
When expressing an opinion
Opinions so often cause conflict, and sometimes it can be hard to share your own. Even if it’s as simple as telling your coworker what you think about a project when asked, or offering advice to a friend on a shirt at the mall, expressing opinions can induce anxiety because they put you at risk for offending or upsetting someone. There’s no easy way to remedy this–but it’s important to not shy away from giving your point of view when the situation calls for it. Try to keep in mind that someone asking for your opinion is genuinely seeking your thoughts, and understand that you’re helping them by giving it.
While anxiety is an obstacle that takes care, attention and time to work through, it’s not a reason to stop approaching situations that make you feel uncertain. Some forms of anxiety require the help and guidance of a mental health physician, but in these everyday situations, stress is more widespread than many people realize. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone, and if your nervousness feels unmanageable or overwhelming, reach out to a trained professional who can help teach you to navigate your mind.