Growing up, I used to be terrified of going anywhere without someone I knew. I used to think people were judging me when I would do things alone and it made me feel extremely insecure and self-conscious. I used to think people thought I was a loser when they would see me shopping alone or eating alone and because of that, I would always beg someone to come with me. Now that I’m older and I’ve managed to control my anxiety better than before, I feel comfortable doing things alone. It’s definitely not easy but you can most definitely do things alone in public without feeling self-conscious.
The first thing I did when I became comfortable with my social anxiety and started going out in public alone was I reassured myself. I kept saying, “They’re not paying attention, they don’t care,” or “It’s okay, keep it moving,” to myself over and over. Sometimes, reassuring yourself is a great way to keep your anxiety levels down and to prevent yourself from overreacting. I kept telling myself that no one cares about what I’m doing and that I’m not the center of their attention.
I would also tell myself, “You don’t see them, they don’t see you,” as a way to prevent myself from checking if people were looking at me. Saying this little phrase made me pretend that no one else was around me and that I was invisible, so no one could see me either. It genuinely worked because now when I’m in public, I genuinely don’t notice when people see me.
Remind yourself that you may never see these people again.
Social anxiety is a severe thing and it sucks, but I promise you, you most likely may never see these people again. So whether you’re shopping at your local mall or getting fast food from a location that’s 25 minutes away from where you’re from, remind yourself that these people do not matter and you’ll never see them again.
I once tripped and fell when I was at a food court in a highly populated mall. Believe me, I was embarrassed and humiliated. My anxiety levels started getting high and I literally ran away to not face the embarrassment. But after a couple minutes of me panicking and assuming everyone thought I was an idiot, I told myself, “Don’t even worry about it, these people do not matter and you won’t ever see them again.” I kept reminding myself that they’re never going to remember a week from now or even a couple of days from now.
So if you ever feel like people are watching you or you feel embarrassed in any way, just remember that these people are insignificant and you’re never going to see them or remember them anyway.
Listen to music the entire time you’re out and about.
Sometimes, I get nervous going out because I’m paying attention to everything and everyone around me. I’ll notice little things like the way someone looks at me or the way someone breathes around me, and I’ll assume they’re making fun of me.
One way that I prevent myself from paying attention to others is by putting my earphones in and listening to music. When I listen to music, I’m paying attention to the song and I’m not focused on the people around me. Listening to music is a great way to distract myself and to do things in public without feeling self-conscious.
So if you are someone that pays attention to any little thing, bring earphones or headphones with you and get lost in the music. When you pay attention to the music, you won’t even notice the people around you and you’ll feel better about being in public alone.
Call a friend / stay on the phone with a friend.
When I was in college out-of-state, I didn’t know a single person. Both my roommates had class every time I wanted to eat and the people I normally hung out with would always be busy or off-campus.
I would actually starve myself because I was so scared of going to the dining hall by myself. I thought everyone would judge me for being alone and that people would make fun of me for not having friends. And because of this, I wouldn’t eat until dinner time when my friends were free.
When I said this to my best friends back at home, they felt really bad and would coordinate with me about times I should go and call them to keep me occupied. They did this for a couple weeks until I finally decided I was ready to go to the dining hall by myself.
So if you genuinely cannot go out in public without feeling self-conscious, let a friend or relative know about your anxiety and then ask if it’s okay if you call them whenever you feel anxious. If your social anxiety is severe, I recommend having at least 2-3 people you can call so that way, if you only have one person to call and s/he is busy, you may get anxious, so having 2-3 people know about the situation will give you options on who to call.
When you call a friend or stay on the phone with them, hearing their voice may help you to relax and calm your nerves so definitely call a friend or relative to help you feel less self-conscious when you’re in public. And the phone call will also distract you from noticing everyone else around you.
Remind yourself that you are not the only one who does things alone.
Sometimes, what triggers my anxiety is that I feel like I’m the only person experiencing this specific situation. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s completely normal to do things alone in public. I used to get nervous going shopping by myself and then I would see other people shopping by themselves. So if you’re feeling self-conscious, remember that it’s normal. And if it helps, you can scout out other people who are doing things alone to ensure that it is completely fine to do things alone.
Pretend that you’re a celebrity or that people are just in love with you.
This is actually a somewhat cocky thing to do but it personally helped ME. Whenever I was in public and I was freaking out about making eye contact with someone, I would just tell myself that it’s because they like my outfit or I’m a celebrity or people are in love with me.
It is perfectly fine to think “cocky” or “self-centered” thoughts when it comes to your anxiety. Doing this made me forget about everyone and related to to reminding myself that I’ll never see these people again, it helped me to relax when I was in public.
It is fine to compliment yourself and think highly of yourself if it means being able to relax and do things alone in public without feeling self-conscious. So if you need to say, “She’s looking at me because my outfit looks better than hers,” that is perfectly fine! At the end of the day, YOUR mental and emotional stability matters more.
Distract yourself with an item.
This will be beneficial if you’re eating alone or at the library alone.
When I stopped calling my friends to keep me company in the dining hall at my out-of-state college, I would bring a book with me and sometimes, a laptop. I would eat while reading or work on my homework. Bringing an item or just doing things like that helped me to distract myself and not pay attention to anyone else.
So if you really need a good distraction, just bring a book, homework, an assignment, a game or paper to write to distract your thoughts. That way, you’ll be more focused on what item you have and not the people around you.
These are all tips that personally helped me to do things alone in public without feeling self-conscious. Whether I was shopping alone or eating alone or even attending an event alone, I was able to distract myself and bring my anxiety levels down. Hopefully, these tips help you as well to do things alone in public without feeling self-conscious.
Until Next Time,
About The Author…
Linda Tran is the Marketing Executive at the Quiet Nonsense. She’s currently from the Boston area with goals of relocating to New York City within the next few years to hopefully pursue a marketing career in the fashion industry. She will be graduating at the end of April from Southern New Hampshire with a Bachelor’s in Marketing and immediately starting graduate school in May. In her free time, she has a fashion blog that she’s committed and dedicated to https://Lindatenchitran.com