Social anxiety and coding (to become a professional)

Social anxiety and coding (to become a professional)
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Hello everyone,

I know this post is going to come off a little bit stupid but I have pretty bad social anxiety.
I am always in my own head criticising everything I do or being paranoid about the way I am or how I do things. It can make it hard for me to have the confidence to meet new people, collaborate on projects and even attend events like meetups for my local freecodecamp groups.

I am aware that networking can be important for devs to get a start in the field and it is going to be important for me to have that confidence for interviews and even for the day-to-day of work life. So I am asking if anyone here has been in a similar situation and how you overcame your issues.

Thanks for reading this.

Joel

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Hi Joel - welcome to the forum!

I’m afraid my advice is probably the last thing you want to hear…so apologies in advance :stuck_out_tongue:

I am a raging introvert - I basically clam up if I’m in a group of more than 2 other people. I basically let everyone else talk and will cop out by just listening.

The way I overcame this at meetups was to start giving lightning talks!

It takes some getting used to, but I actually find it easier to talk to a room of people (or talk AT them, if I’m honest) than I do talking to a small group in conversation.

The thing that really helps this pay off is that once your talk is over - people will come and introduce themselves to you to ask follow up questions or just chat. For me, that’s amazing, because breaking the ice initially is always the bit I struggle the most with.

It’s not easy, but with courage, and a willingness to put yourself out there, the payoff can be amazing.

Also, don’t feel like you need to do this immediately.

The first time I went to a meetup, I hid in my laptop all night - I only broke the silence to ask a question about callbacks, which I got a good answer to. It took multiple weeks of attending before I could put myself forward to give a short talk. After that, it got easier.

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Thank you for the tips, Jackson.

I think you are right though the only way I will get out there and past my limitations is by confronting them.

If you can find a freeCodeCamp meetup in your area, they are usually the easiest places to get started with meetups - because everyone is in the same situation!

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I would also not be seen talking with more than one or two selected people, I would shut down for fear of saying something wrong and then something happened…

After 2 years of working in the sector and being extremely introvert same as you and @JacksonBates describe I was told “go and set up the IDE and projects of the new guys, give them an onboarding”, I was sweating, trembling thinking “oh s**t I have no clue what to even do, what do I say? What will they think if I say something wrong…” panic panic. I sit next to the first person I have to help and I notice no movement, this person in front of me was completely paralyzed with fear (we talked after about this moment, even some years after we remember it in a funny way) and that’s when the click came, we’re all nervous with the same or similar, fears just that some have more confidence either because they’ve been in a certain scenario so much they focus on what they have to do and not on what can go wrong or because they naturally understand that nothing irreversible can happen, if you make a mistake and you notice it just talk about it and people forget quicker than you imagine, it keeps itself in our head longer than on other people’s because they have their own fears and “mistakes” in their head, not yours.

Challenge yourself to do meetups listen, question and then do one yourself, the first presentation I did I blocked in front of 30 or so people multiple times, in the “after party” people were talking about the good points, nobody cared that I stumbled or make a couple of mistakes replying to them, they cared to know more or to teach me more.

If you look at it, by this post you already fought it and look, nothing wrong is coming out of it, people are being cool about it and helping you out, most people read and ignore (or keep silent) and the people who are idiots have usually more problem with themselves than with you so don’t focus on them.

The biggest celebrities do ridiculous stuff all the time, people talk about it for a while and move on to the next ridiculous thing, they forget it ever happened and continue to celebrate that person’s work.

Did I stop sweating and trembling immediately after my story? Heck no, it still took some time to have it not be my default behavior when having to interact, when I publish an article even after reading it and double-triple checking I still sweat with the thought “what if I said the biggest stupidest thing ever? What if I mislead those learning?”, there is an edit button exactly for this :smile:

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You can always take comfort in the fact that someone else on the Internet will top it, and soon :wink:

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Any sites to find web related meet ups?
Or where the company meetups?

I’ve learned that 50% of success is just showing up OP!

Well, there is https://meetup.com but that will go out of business sooner rather than later : WeWork is Desperately Squeezing Cash Out of Meetup.com by Taxing 225,000 Communities

Being aware of the various online communities your local dev scene utilises is another way to find meetups. Twitter and Facebook usually have some presence from local tech groups.

I also have a terrible case of social anxiety. It’s so bad that I had to drop out of college when I was a bit younger because the social pressure that comes with college life was too much for me.

I have never quite overcome my social anxiety yet but I’m trying to take baby steps. So my advice would be just to take one small step at a time. Some people say that you should throw yourself out to the wolves right away but that has actually made my anxiety worse. So one step at a time.

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You already know that the only way to deal with it is to confront it. Good! That’s the first step. Now the only question is how to confront it. Some people like to jump in with both feet, others like to go the slow route.

One thing that I would recommend you to read is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s quite old and the language is a bit outdated but it is a classic on how to get better at talking to people and making social connections.

The advice mostly comes down to being interested in others. Try to learn about them, what makes them tick/happy/motivates them. The book also mentions how to deal with rude people and realizing that they probably had a bad day or are stressed and that it usually isn’t about you.

Aside from that, I can recommend rejection therapy. That means, you go out and try to get rejected for stuff. Go up to a person, ask a question and try to get them to tell you to fuck off (hint: they usually don’t). Ask for something extra with your coffee or 10 percent off. It will teach you a) when you ask for stuff, you actually get a surprising amount of it and b) even if people turn you down, you will not die and sink into the ground.

Anyway, those are my two cents. Hope it helps!

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Thank you for the that. I will try taking baby steps.
Perhaps just showing up at a meet-up will be ok for now. :slight_smile:

I will have to read that book sometime.

Rejection therapy sounds pretty interesting. I have always been told to barter with sales people who work for commission. I have always felt awkward even trying because I always get it in my head that advertised prices ARE the prices, while knowing logically that they often have pretty good margins on stuff, and sometimes instead of reducing the price they will just throw something extra in to sweeten the pot if you ask. I guess rejection could also be one of the roots of my anxiety so this could possibly help me a lot. I just have to convince myself that I am not being greedy when asking for more than what is offered initially :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the advice

1st of all your post is not stupid asking never and keep it to yourself would be stupid.
2 know that it’s not your fault for thinking that way but, you can change the way things are alway’s even if it looks impossible.
3 yes true networking is what can help you. but what also is important is to find someone to understand you
4 no my issue is not the same as yours but, we all struggle with something. for me it’s phone call’s our anything where i have to speak to the persons without seeing them in persone. I freaking hate them. They scare me to dead and I do anything to avoid them.
5 what you are missunderstanding here is that there is no overcomming the issue. It will alway’s remain you simpley learn to live with it. What I did was taking a call-center job and force myself to answere phone calls. Did the training help and did i learn to handle them better because, I had super awesome collegaus yes it did. Do i still struggle with them and do I get tottal stress each time the phone ring yup it sure does. But now i know what to say. Thing what still bothers me most is that people think I make it up and expect me to behave normally.

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I had the same problem as @KittyKora, phone calls. I have no idea why but when it came to making phone calls my anxiety would just spike through the roof. I used to have to plan before hand exactly what I was going to say, sort of like writing my own mental script and I’d pray to get their answering machine.

Maybe it was a control issue, maybe it was a lack of feedback (not seeing their face for responses). I’m still working on it BUT, one of the biggest things that helped me was a sort of exposure therapy exercise: I just made a lot of phonecalls.

And not even client related, just calling in general. Finding out when a local business closed, calling someone with questions about a service, etc. I looked at it like training a muscle. The more I work at it, the stronger and more natural the activity would be. Do I still get a bit of a nervous jolt as I dial a number? Now and then yeah. I liken it to a small shot of adrenaline. My body’s prepping me to be on my A game.

But I’m waaaaaaaaay better than I used to be. So I would suggest in your case, just start talking to folk in the field little by little. Exercise that muscle. You’re already making a huge start right here talking to us. So awesome job there!

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Here’s a video of a guy asking Krispy Kreme to make him the Olympic rings in donut form as part of his rejection therapy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ax2CsVbrX0

He also has a TED talk that you can find easily. Just for inspiration.

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Hi Joel and welcome to FCC,

I want to thank you for starting this post and the rest of the people who answer it. I’m struggling with social anxiety too and all the support and advice I’ve read just make my day :blush: As other comments said, take a step at a time. I’ve started to go out of my comfort zone online first and when I feel more confident I will try to assist some meetings. Learning to code and reading this forum helps me so much too! But it’s hard anyway

About your negative thoughts, I deal with them assuming that they will be there no matter what I pay attention to them or not, so I try to keep going despite them. English is not my first language so I’m not sure if it makes sense :sweat_smile: , it’s like “Ok, I’m the worst but still I’m going to watch this tutorial” These thoughts are there but I’m more than that.

Best wishes in your journey :slight_smile:

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