I am a supervisor at a small non-profit agency. I’m also in school part-time working on a doctorate. I’m a social worker so I’ve been working in non-profit agencies since I got my master’s degree around 8 years ago. I’ve been in management for around 5 years. I have had to deal with pretty intense social anxiety for as long as I can remember.
My mother tells me she saw signs of it when I was young child. I remember my first experience with it – looking out my bedroom window at kids (most of whom were my friends) riding bikes in the neighborhood and wanting desperately to join them but being too scared to leave my room. My social anxiety has resulted in many misunderstandings over the years. Teachers assumed I either wasn’t intelligent or wasn’t paying attention. Twice in my academic career I was placed in a group of students considered to be slower learners. This meant later I had to take more classes than my classmates as I doubled up on coursework to get into the A.P. classes.
When I entered the professional world, my social anxiety and difficulty speaking in groups stalled my career on several occasions. Those who worked at the corporate level assumed I had no passion for the job because I never spoke in large company meetings. Though my direct supervisors frequently recommended me for promotion to receive a promotion. My more talkative friend/co-worker was promoted in about 6 months at the same agency
Being a supervisor has been the greatest test of my social anxiety yet. Now I’m required to attend large meetings of other organizations, give constant feedback to my employees (not always positive, gulp), and hire new employees (meet new people,? NOOOO!!). I constantly fight the urge please others because it’s the easiest way to manage my anxiety when I’m around others. But I know I can be just as effective a supervisor as someone without my particular issues, my method just might be a little different. I know there are other supervisors out there who struggle to keep their social anxiety in check just like I do. My hope is that this blog will help somebody (multiple somebodies?) out there feel less alone with their anxiety.