Class alleviates social dilemma
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2012 21:05
Approaching strangers and striking up a conversation used to create an irrational fear within me and was something I believed I was incapable of doing.
In the process of working on my last stories for The Advocate this month I came to a sudden realization that the social anxiety that once encompassed my daily life had virtually disappeared.
It is hard to grasp how far my three years on the college newspaper have taken me.
In high school I joined groups like the speech and debate team and marching band to have an easier time making friends rather than seeking them out on my own.
Not wanting to be stranded at Contra Costa College, I enrolled in The Advocate in hopes of feeling part of something again and saw it as a chance to improve my writing skills as well.
My rude awakening came on the first day of class when then-editor-in-chief Holly Pablo told staff members that we would be receiving our stories within the first two weeks.
While other students joining may have been unfazed or even excited by her announcement, my heart sank in my chest at the thought of speaking to people I didn’t know.
To top it off, my first assignment was to cover the culinary arts department’s Turkey Cook-Off, an event where I would have to talk to all of my sources, right then and there.
Most people only would be slightly intimidated by this task, but could subdue that uneasiness fairly quickly.
I could barely sleep the night before the event, stressing over how I would approach people and thinking up responses to anything they might say.
People with social anxiety are consumed with a constant worry others might be thinking negatively about them during social interactions.
As much as I didn’t want to cover the event, I knew I had to if I ever wanted to overcome my phobia and open up more opportunities for myself in the future.
The next day I entered the Three Seasons Restaurant, shaking with only my pen and steno pad, surveyed the area and chose a corner to compose myself before attempting to talk to anyone.
Before gathering up the courage to move, a friendly man in a chef’s uniform came into my view and began politely asking me questions as to why I was there.
He told me he was the chairperson of the department and from there, he introduced me to everyone involved in the event.
Without Nader Sharkes’ warm welcome, I don’t know how successful I would have been in getting all the sources necessary for the story.
My experience being on the newspaper for six semesters and interviewing countless sources on and off campus has helped me come to a place where I can successfully manage my issues with social interaction.
Social anxiety never fully leaves a person, but the newspaper experience here has provided me with the tools to keep it at bay when it starts to get in the way of completing a task.
Before, I was riddled with the fear of disturbing people or coming off as unlikable, but after encountering almost every type of personality, one understands it is impossible to control other people’s perceptions and, at a point, worrying about it becomes unproductive.
This edition of The Advocate will be my last before I transfer to San Francisco State in the fall. The Advocate has not only given me a family unit to lean on during difficult times, but the social skills to guide me into a world I was once too scared to explore.