When I took Speech 101 I learned that on the list of things most feared by humans, fear of public speaking is ranked above fear of death. What? Yep. And here’s what sucks: you usually have to talk when you’re on a date. Which, for someone with anxiety, is a horrifying thought. This is why, before anything, I always tell people they can opt to see a movie on a first date instead of grabbing coffee. If the idea of a first date makes you want to puke your guts out, find another option. It will allow you to get over the first date jitters and allow yourself to adjust and see you won’t die while on a date.
During Speech 101 the teacher discussed the fight or flight reaction. When encountering a situation that is scary to us (public speaking, dating, talking to someone cute) our bodies automatically jump into fight or flight mode. Sweating, difficulty breathing, nausea, jumbled thoughts…basically our bodies betray us when we most need to be “cool.” But, here’s the thing: after about 3 minutes our bodies realize we are not in immediate danger and will automatically start to calm down.
That’s why, usually at least, the most stressful/difficult part of talking to someone, is that moment when you first walk up. When you feel yourself moving towards them, when you first open your mouth, when you’re scrambling to think of anything to say. And for a few minutes, it’s just pure agony. Oftentimes the fear of this moment prevents us from even trying. But then you’ll find yourself in the moment and realizing that even if it sucks, you’re not dead. You’ll get through it.
So, keep those 3 minutes in mind. Tell yourself to get through those 3 minutes. You can do it. And if it’s still horrible and awkward, just remind yourself you don’t have to do it again. You’re your own free person. Who gets to sweat and swallow vomit for three whole minutes in front of someone you desperately want to think you’re attractive. Oh, romance.