Friday, 31 August 2012

My August Challenge Accomplishments

The month is coming to a close, and therefore my August Challenge is too. A lot has happened in the past thirty-one days, and I'd like to write a quick post on what I've accomplished.

Why did I undergo this challenge?
I've suffered from both general and social anxiety for a long time, and I tend to become quite agoraphobic if I have the chance. I didn't want these issues to escalate before I return to university mid-September, and so I thought it would be beneficial to expose myself to my fears as much as possible now. I'm a great believer in exposure therapy, despite how much it scares me!

What have I achieved?
I've done a lot. I could have done more anxiety-inducing tasks, but that may have had a negative rather than positive effect. Listed below are the fears I mentioned in my introduction to the challenge, alongside what I've done to face each one:

  • Speaking in front of people, particularly being the centre of attention: One of the many benefits of starting my new bookshop job is that I've learned not to shy away from talking to people. I've also practiced this by chatting to family friends, for instance at my brother's athletics competitions and family barbecues. 
  • Asking questions - in shops, about other people, for directions: Thinking about it, I have done this a lot more than usual. At work I've asked people about themselves, which I never did before, and I've spoken up to order in restaurants and cafés (instead of someone else doing it for me). Asking for directions is yet to happen, however. 
  • Phone calls: I've taken and made so many phone calls this month, something I certainly wouldn't have predicted beforehand. I've rang customers at work, and had various phone conversations regarding therapy (one of which was a telephone appointment, a prospect that has always terrified me). I still don't pick up the home phone, unless I know that it's a family member (they leave a message shouting at me to answer until I do). Perhaps I can challenge myself to answer that phone, even if it the call will never be for me!
  • Being criticised or judged: Doing Live Mocha speaking exercises to help my Spanish has allowed me to face criticism. I'm viewing feedback positively, as something that can help me improve and develop. Hopefully I'll be able to continue this at university, and not be afraid to participate for fear of failure or embarrassment.
  • Being assertive: At work yesterday, a colleague asked me if I'd prefer the fan to be on or off. I replied that I didn't mind, which has always been my answer for everything. She told me I had to choose one or the other, and I made up my mind. For once I was assertive! I had a laugh about my lack of assertiveness with the woman in question, and she confessed that she was the same, yet underneath I was proud of this small accomplishment. 
  • Crowds and busy places: My boyfriend and I had a day trip to London, during which I wasn't too bothered about the crowds we faced. I even used a lift, which I usually never fail to avoid due to my slight claustrophobia. 
  • Water: Unfortunately I haven't faced this fear. When I was younger I saw my sister very close to drowning, and it's always made me quite wary of swimming and boats. Despite not addressing this in my challenge, I definitely will in September. I'm holidaying in Italy, which I'm sure will mean that facing swimming and water becomes inevitable.
  • Horrid animals with horrible tails: Mice and rats - there, now I can manage to say (well, write) their names. I dealt with one being caught in a mousetrap just behind the wall where I was sitting, although I did not see the poor mouse as I ran off screaming. I also didn't retaliate as I usually do to Scabbers whilst watching Harry Potter

Will I continue to face my fears?
I certainly will. I find that the only way I can overcome my fears is to address them face-on. What I fear is also never as bad as I believe. I'm going to continue challenging my social and general anxieties, as well as my more specific phobias. If every three months are as fruitful as this month, I'll be sure to be fearless in no time.


Anonymous said...

I think you're doing a fantastic job -- I like the way you describe how you break your social anxieties into manageable pieces.

Lucy said...

Thank you :) I think working towards achievable goals is the only way I'll reduce my anxiety!