A personal story (made out of two situations) that made me come to this realization
It was a Saturday morning when I found myself on a barstool overlooking the train terminal and crying my eyes out. There I was, phoneless and stranded, in Dusseldorf’s central station.
Who knew a nice getaway to Germany would eventually turn into a nightmare?
See, the day before, I boarded a train in Amsterdam to make my way to Dusseldorf to record part 2 of my episode “Why you’re scared to ask a stranger for sunscreen.”
I was excited to sit on the couch with my best friend Joanna (featured in the viral TikTok I break down in the podcast episode) and get all my questions answered as to why it was so easy for her to walk up to a stranger and ask them for sunscreen.
Why, who, what, when, but whyyyyyy, and how?!
Rightfully so, because the interview beat my expectations; we laughed, connected, and got some damn good footage (you can watch the interview here).
And then we went on with the day. We walked to a coffee shop, put a few hours in of work, and made it to our dinner reservation at a Peruvian restaurant.
I seem to be craving ceviche a bit too much these days.
My train was scheduled to depart back to Amsterdam at 11 am the next day.
Luckily, she dropped me off at the train station, so I didn’t have to trek through trams and streets alone.
But that was the extent of my luck.
At the train station, I made my way to Starbucks, got my chai latte, and a sandwich, then went off to find my platform. As I readied to check which platform my train was departing from, I realized my phone wasn’t on me.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the panic of losing your phone in a place that is, well, NOT YOUR COUNTRY, but it’s a pretty overwhelming experience. A panic-inducing one to say the least.
So many thoughts went through my mind as I dug into the same pocket over and over, thinking it would magically reappear. It did not, shockingly so. I checked every crevice of my carry-on bag, my backpack, and my pockets, to no avail.
I’ve been having a few episodes lately where I misplace things. This was one of those episodes, except it wasn’t a lip balm or something harmless, but my LIFELINE.
I honestly had zero recollection of when I last had my phone on me.
At her place? In her car? At Starbucks? DID SOMEONE GRAB IT FROM MY HANDS OR POCKETS? I was losing it.
I went back to the German kid behind the counter at Starbucks and asked him: can I use your WhatsApp? He handed his phone to me without question.
And then the next moment of panic set in. I didn’t memorize anyone’s number.
I tried contacting my husband through his American phone but realized he had disabled it. Of course I did not memorize his new Dutch number and I certainly didn’t know my friend’s German number.
So, I gave the barista his phone back and sat at the window, tears running down my face. My train was set to leave in 20 minutes, but the ticket was on my phone.
I opened my laptop, did the “Find My Phone” search, and rang it, while simultaneously searching my e-mail for my train ticket. I thought, well, if my phone is lost, that’s that, but that doesn’t mean I should miss my train.
Alas, I could not locate my train ticket, nor log into the website, and I had no idea how to contact anyone. I started crying.
I sobbed harder and harder. I missed my train. I couldn’t locate my phone. I was stranded, and I never felt more helpless. It’s one thing to lose your phone in your hometown and make your way home pissed. But there I was, not sure what to do next.
Except there were PLENTY of options. I just see them through my blurry vision.
I could have called either of them through Facebook Messenger. I could have contacted them through Instagram (instant notification).
I could have gone to the service point and had them help me with the train ticket (potentially purchasing the next train out). But I remained frozen at Starbucks.
Eventually, I found out my phone was last seen at her house.
But since she was on her way to Frankfurt (2.5 hours away), there was no way she could turn around and come back for me (or my phone, most notably).
I felt more at ease at this point because 1. I did not LOSE my phone and 2. I wasn’t stranded anymore as she’d eventually come to pick me up from the train station.
I ended up staying another night and took the train the following day with my phone and ticket in hand.
Yes, I ended up paying for another train ticket, but I’d rather only pay for a train ticket instead of a train ticket and a new phone.
There’s no substitute for effort, but you can speed up the process if you understand and take these 5 ways seriously. This is your starter pack; what you do with it is up to you.
Namely, how freaking dependent I (we) are on our phones.
How insane that I have zero phone numbers memorized?
How insane that my phone has become my wallet?
How insane that a new phone costs a minimum of $600 bucks, making it one of the most stressful objects to carry around?
In Joanna’s case, her worst-case scenario was to leave the beach, which she didn’t want to. That would have been worse for her than a stranger denying her sunscreen.
For me, not being able to contact my husband was a worst outcome than being socially rejected.
I felt awkward, sure, but with the lost phone, my only goal was to contact my husband, so it didn’t matter if ten people refused to give me their phone; I was on a mission to have someone help me.
If you’re terrified of approaching someone attractive because they might turn you down – you can think of a worse outcome than that: meaning that this could be the last person you have the chance to turn into a potential partner.
Or this is the only person assigned to you and if you don’t approach them, you’ll settle.
Of course, that’s a very extreme thought, but it can help if you think about the opportunity cost of NOT doing what you want to do because of social anxiety.
What’s the more significant cost (the one you’re not considering) when you decide to avoid a situation because of social fear?
Try to see it from that perspective. Potentially losing out on the love of your life and a genuine connection is a REAL opportunity cost you shouldn’t scoff at.
As for me, I’m now walking around with that carefree feeling I had of asking strangers for things. I witnessed myself doing it in a moment of panic, which means I can do it on a regular day just as well.
I don’t want to depend on my mindset being just right (because then I’ll only do things when I’m panicky, which isn’t exactly an ideal way to live, is it?), so the only way forward now is to do this regardless of how I feel.
Which is the only way to learn how to manage social anxiety. It’s to do things regardless of how you feel about them. Like my friend Sadie says, the host of yoursocialanxietybestie, “show up scared.”
Or, you know, show up panicky or calmly. Either way, show up.
I had a traumatizing experience in Germany after I thought I lost my phone. I ended up crying at a Starbucks, trying to figure out how to get help, and realized that when panic sets in, social anxiety walks out, because my fear of being told no disappeared.
I went from being scared to ask a question out loud to hosting summits online. I love coffee, french crepes, and working from home. My mission? Help others build their social confidence to make friends, have conversations, and be comfortable around people!
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I’m obsessed with social anxiety. In a healthy way! After a decade of being debilitated by it, I finally have the tools I need to manage it (the journey itself is no joke). I now use my experience to help others.
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