How I Beat Social Anxiety
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Health and Wellness

How I Beat Social Anxiety

Because "sometimes all you need is twenty-seconds of insane courage"

How I Beat Social Anxiety
Hannah Koch

To be honest, I have not seen all ofWe Bought a Zoo, which makes me feel like a bit of a poser considering I just got a tattoo symbolizing a highlighted quote from the film. Even though I have not seen all of the film, the idea that “sometimes all you need is twenty-seconds of insane courage” is more than just words out of Hollywood to me. I agree that we need to live courageously, so I got this tattoo to remind me of that. Fear rules a greater part of our lives, whether it be fear of missing out, fear of rejection, or my personal fear: public embarrassment. It controls a lot of the choices we make. When you play your life so safe that you avoid the risk of these fears coming true, are you even playing life at all? If you are living in fear, are you truly living?

I will be honest, after the transition from middle to high school I stopped living. The fears of all that could go wrong when I socialized with people put me in so much distress I did not want to leave the house. So I left myself alone with my thoughts. Yes, that did not foster improvements. You would be amazed at how imaginative one can get when they are anxious. I am not exaggerating when I say that back then for a single home basketball game I could easily think of a least 46 possible social things that could go wrong for me. Forget resting bitch face, I seriously had resting “deer in headlights” face. On-edge would be an understatement. Humans are pack animals, so it’s only natural to fear being excluded from the pack... right? My fear of becoming the girl that everyone says is weird and a nerd and uncool and who everyone gossips about was so debilitating that I just became nothing at all, just a shadow in a room and a flower against a wall.

It took time but things did change. They changed because one fateful day HBO randomly played a movie starring Matt Damon, one titled We Bought a Zoo. There came a scene in the part of the film where Matt Damon, as Benjamin Mee, looks at his son and says, “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” At this point my father turned to me and said, “This is how you should live.” And that is how the turnaround in my life began. I am not even making it up when I say my dad used to give me a task a day where I had to use twenty-seconds of courage. Yes, not all of them turned into something great, or at least not right away. For example, one of my earlier tasks was to ask a guy I liked to sit next to me at the male talent show at our school, when I did he just so happened to say he was already sitting with someone. Considering he and I dated for almost two years starting a few months after this event, I don’t consider the rejection an “L”, just the moment where I planted the seed. Today my dad will still use it on me when he thinks I should do something. This includes giving my adorable (and young) teacher my number after graduation. I kid you not, this was my dad’s idea. And sure as hell- after a few attempts of convincing -I did it, because in terms of seconds... it only took five.

Sure, I am still waiting for his call, but now I can’t regret not doing it. That’s the best part of living your life with twenty-seconds of insane courage, because you stop living your life with regret. Let me tell you, there sure are times when I wish I had stuck to this way of living and just done things. I will always live with the regret of not telling my best friend I loved him before he moved sophomore year. At the time I was too scared to just come out with it. I’ll forever wonder what his response would have been. I’ll always wonder what we could have been. Learn from my mistake, use your twenty-seconds when you are scared the most, because that’s when you really need to do what you are being held back from.

I cannot be thankful enough that I listened when my dad told me to follow the advice of Benjamin Mee. I used to allow fear to hold me back. I kept from going after things that only I thought I was incapable of getting. You may have opened this article thinking you were only going to learn about my second tattoo, but just like the quote that inspired it, this article means so much more. This was the story about how I beat my social anxiety. This tattoo represents all the courage, success, friendships, and pride I have gained since I stopped letting my anxiety be in charge. It was not always easy, but in the end this way of living makes sense. You just need to do things, go get out there. If you wait back in the shadows and are always scared of “what if” you might miss out on “what is,” and you will never know “what could”.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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