I went to a wedding at the weekend and I wore this dress by Halston Heritage, which is currently on sale. Everything about it is right up my street; the pleats, the ruffles the colour and the Studio 54 vibe. It’s also one of the most comfy party frocks I’ve ever worn, which was a good thing because I was apprehensive about going to this wedding. While I love the ritual of doing my makeup and getting dressed up, I often feel nervous about meeting new people, or talking to people I don’t know very well. If I give it any analytical thought, it seems absurd; as a general rule I don’t care what others think of me and I’m not looking for the validation of strangers. Most people who know me would be surprised to know that I’m actually quite shy, despite the fact that I’m an actor and give the impression of being outgoing.

I know I’m not alone in this and I think that social anxiety is something many of us deal with, but rarely talk about. In the past I’ve drunk my way through my nerves, which gave me a shot of dutch courage, but it was ultimately a destructive way to deal with the problem. I’ve learnt techniques over the years that keep my social anxiety under control. I try to prepare myself as much as possible before a big event by deciding what I’m going to wear and how I’m going to do my hair and makeup. That probably sounds shallow, but it eliminates the possibility of panicking because I don’t feel confident in what I’m wearing. On the way there I’ll try and do a few breathing exercises or listen to music that makes me feel calmer. I also focus on reminding myself of a simple truth; it doesn’t actually matter. It’s lovely to be liked, but if you fail to impress new people, it’s really not important. The relationships you have with your loved ones are worth your time and attention, not the interactions you have with strangers. If you tell a joke that falls flat or choke on your drink and splutter all over another party goer (both things that have happened to me more that once), you may be embarrassed for a while, but that will dissipate and you will survive that feeling. Also, remember that most people are so wrapped up in their own lives that the they will forget a few fleeting moments with you by the following morning. Finally, remind yourself that everyone feels some degree of social anxiety. In fact, it is often the most seemingly confident among us who are hiding a writhing mass of insecurities beneath a charming, socially acceptable veneer.

I hope that’s a tiny bit helpful to anyone dealing with social anxiety. I find that no matter how nervous I was on the way there, I’m always glad that I’ve gone out into the world rather than hiding away.

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