Can you be a successful photographer if you have social anxiety? This is a question I ask myself all the time. Hi, I'm Shanda Call. And I have social anxiety.
What does this mean?
It means that in social situations, I feel anxiety, I feel like others are judging me, and I'm super self conscious. I spend a lot of time comparing myself to others rather then being able to enjoy the party, so in a room full of people, it's very hard for me to not compare every little thing about myself to someone else. Their hair is prettier then mine, do they think my outfit is ugly, can they see the zit on my face, are they thinking I'm strange, they are better at everything then I am. Look at their clean house, their kids are dressed for the day ;) , they are more successful, what if I say something stupid, did I just say something stupid, they have more money, they are skinnier then me.
These are constant thoughts that plague me each time I'm in a social situation. It makes it difficult for me to be comfortable going to parties or hanging out with crowds of people. Sometimes this makes me come off as stuck up or self indulgent. Or just un interested in others - especially when they invite me to parties and I don't show up. The truth is, I'm a nice person. I will do anything for you, show up for anything for you, and have your back at a moments notice. However, I may freak out when you invite me to a party and find a way out of it. Or I will be there, and not seem like myself. Not because I don't want to be there, but because I don't want to deal with the voices in my head. But don't stop inviting me, because one day I'm going to overcome this.
What does this have to do with photography? I always had this idea that I couldn't be a successful photographer, and that only social people were successful photographers. But what happened is that Photography gave me a voice. It gave me confidence. It's put me in the position to push myself out of my comfort zone. It hasn't come over night, but it's a process, and I'm constantly getting out of my own way. I've found through photography, that I can talk to people. And I'm ok at it. Because I really care about people. I care about their story, and when I care about them and their story, and I show them I am interested in them, they don't know that I have social anxiety. And each interaction helps me feel more comfortable for the next interaction. For me photography has been my vehicle to become the me I deserve to be.
Somedays my lens gets a little blurry...because this is real life...but I'm here to overcome. I'm here to succeed. And you can too! You've got this. Whatever you are working towards, you can achieve it!