Some good news regarding social anxiety: I did most of an induction today for about twenty English as a second language students (I would have done the whole thing but I had to leave as I was due at the other campus). I hadn’t done one by myself before. Not only did I do it, without any of my colleagues around to help if I got stuck, I even turned down an offer to switch lunch breaks to get out of it. I did ask my colleague what I should say, but I don’t consider that cheating as the difficulty for me is presenting, not working out what to say. Not only that, but I didn’t shake either, despite being worried that I might, which can trigger it in itself. I don’t know how much of the induction the students understood (although some of them seemed to have reasonable English), but it’s always pot luck on that score anyway. To some extent it’s just a formality so that when we give them overdue fines, they can’t say they weren’t warned (although they say that anyway). The important thing for me was actually presenting to a group fluently (well, reasonably fluently) for the first time in a very long time.
Even more good news: I asked some rowdy students in the library to be quiet and get on with some work. They even listened to me (for a bit). I always get scared of doing this, not just because of social anxiety, but because I’m worried they’ll get argumentative or even violent. I’m not sure if this fear is rooted in tabloid journalism or memories of being bullied at school, although no one was actually violent towards me at school.
Today I did feel like I’m a bit more confident at the library issue desk and able to deal with more problems, although I still have difficulty thinking of solutions while someone is standing over me with a problem. Let me go off for five minutes and I can usually find some kind of solution, even if it’s not ideal, but with someone standing over me the social anxiety makes me panic and my mind goes blank and all I can think is that I want to get out of there (probably the adrenaline rush). And generalizing from knowing specific solutions to specific problems to finding general solutions for whole classes of problems and then narrowing that back down to specific solutions for different specific problems is difficult. This may be a borderline Asperger’s thing.