I mentioned on this blog post that I had a volunteer orientation at a yoga studio, but I got cold feet and chickened out of my appointment. I rescheduled and went in this Thursday. I ended up coming in about a half hour late because I miscalculated which train stop I was supposed to get off on and transfer to. Then I had trouble finding the front entrance of the yoga studio, and when I did, I saw there was some kind of security system out front, where I had to press a button to notify whoever was inside. The speaker switched on, but the person on the other end did not speak to me and instead I heard someone in the background talking to others. I stood there for about 30 seconds unsure what to do. Mostly, I drew a blank on what I should say, or if I would sound dumb. I contemplated just leaving until a woman, who works at the studio, happened to walk by and helped me get in.
The orientation with the coordinator was not bad and overall very straight forward. She taught me the basics of using their computer system to check students in when they show up for a yoga class. It was a lot of information to take in because if I really do start volunteering here, I’ll be responsible for not only being a receptionist, but also handling money if students pay for their classes or want to buy something from the studio, in addition to having to tidy up the studio before and after classes. In the worst case scenario, I fear making mistakes, and of course, there’s the face-to-face interaction with those in the studio that I both dread because of my social anxiety and yet I feel I would benefit from having.
I felt out of sorts and very uncomfortable when, as the orientation was wrapping up, two of the coordinator’s friends showed up. Immediately my anxiety spiked. My brain was on red alert because I didn’t know these people, and I stood in the background awkwardly as the coordinator and the two other staff members of the studio were conversing with them while I said nothing. The moment passed once the coordinator’s attention on me resumed and she walked me out of the studio exit, where we went over the next steps in figuring out my availability for volunteering. I agreed to email her over the weekend and let her know what days and hours I would be willing to volunteer.
At this moment, in my head, I was already wavering over whether I wanted to volunteer or not. The small amount of discomfort I had over the coordinator’s friends, in reality, only lasted a minute or two, but to me, it felt like an eternity. This was the contributing factor that made me begin to second guess whether I did all right for my other interactions at the studio. I only exchanged greetings with the other staff members, and I spoke to the coordinator the most since she was the one providing the orientation for me. Mostly, I asked her questions if there was something I didn’t understand. Being in a situation outside of the social anxiety group, where I have to interact with people, I do feel alone in my anxiety and almost like I have to hide it all the time. True, I don’t know for sure if anyone I speak with outside the group has social anxiety too.
Annelise advised me against not working at the yoga studio, and that I shouldn’t be backing out just because I have social anxiety. She’s in the same situation. She volunteers at a yoga studio in exchange for free classes, but in addition to having social anxiety, English is not her native tongue, so she struggles with a language barrier. I guess she is right. Avoiding something out of discomfort and using it as an excuse for not doing it is not going to help me at all. And I’m never going to get better at something without having lots of practice over time.
When I do put myself in a situation where I’m continually uncomfortable and feeling anxiety, yeah, I do think to myself that this was the worst decision ever and that I will never feel any less discomfort. This, in turn, makes me reluctant to put myself in the same situation again for next time because all I can remember is how bad I felt the last time I was in the same situation. However, looking at my experience with hosting the coloring book meetup several times already, I can say I have made progress with that. I think about how anxious I was the first couple of times being in the situation. Each time I made mistakes, but it was from making those mistakes that I learned. I hope the same happens for me with this yoga business. What made me continue with the coloring book meetups, despite how anxious I became each time I had to host the event, was keeping in mind my ultimate goals for putting myself in the situation. I want to meet new people, make friends, and have a good time, even though I have social anxiety. As for why I want to involve myself with the yoga studio, I want to advance my interpersonal skills and learn how to talk to people in a professional setting, especially since I’ll be volunteering as a receptionist. I believe the experience will be good for my social anxiety, and interpersonal skills are what I need towards my administrative assistant job target. Also, it would be nice to get back into the habit of doing yoga if I can get free classes by volunteering.