I was asked to participate in a mini play during church service a year ago. That was the day I realized I had social anxiety. We had two weeks to prepare and every time I practiced my heart would beat so hard I was surprised it wasn’t obvious. I would forget my lines even though I knew them. My voice became shaky, it was like I was verbally punishing myself. On the day of I was set to perform, I was trying to come up with every excuse in the book and honestly, the only thing stopping me was that I promised myself I would be more involved in anything church related. I didn’t care that I didn’t have an understudy or that my absence would have thrown everyone off. How could I when comments like “you’re probably going to make a fool out of yourself”, or “make sure you don’t trip because that would be embarrassing. I kept thinking, “girl, what if you salivate too much and end up drooling”. To someone without social anxiety this probably sounds stupid, but to me, to it felt like it could have killed me.
As I went on stage my face went into survival mode… survival from what, I’m not sure but I was tense. Thankfully my role was serious but I was counting down every second. I didn’t know where to look; matching the eyes of the audience terrified me. I forgot a couple lines but nobody could tell even though it felt like everyone knew. There were a couple funny parts in the play but my anxiety was telling me that they were laughing at me. After service, I sped home and for three days I would physically cringe and shutter, along with use self-punishing language that made me feel unworthy of social interaction. I prayed all day everyday for it to go away. I thought I was ill and researched my symptoms to figure out what these feelings were because I was beginning to worry. That’s when I knew. Around that time, God revealed to me my purpose and it terrified me and I just didn’t know why.
Social anxiety is “the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people. It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in almost all areas of a person’s life – as documented by socialphobia.org. I always introduced myself as a “severely awkward introvert” to warn a person that’s the reason I’ll most likely say no to hanging out and avoid getting to know them because I hated small talk. In reality, yes I am an introvert, my personality type is INFP, and social interaction is draining to me if it’s not purposeful. I gain energy in solitude. I didn’t understand how to start up a random conversation for the sake of it, or when customers at work engage in small talk I was speechless because I didn’t know how to respond. I also tripped over my words a lot.
After self-reflecting I realized I’m not built like this. I’ve been conditioned by hurtful relationships that belittled me during my childhood. Another definition for social anxiety is giving your power of confidence to the opinion of others. Confidence is a superpower. Another word for social anxiety is insecurity. I couldn’t believe I was insecure! I always prided myself on not caring what people think. Nevertheless, it was clear that I had social anxiety.
I overcame two months ago after having a conversation with my accountability partner. She told me, and I’m telling you, an awkward person doesn’t have friends; they aren’t able to vocalize what they want from life and are typically lonely. I am none of those. She said I just know what I want and don’t waste time interacting in conversations I good and well know will not benefit me or another person. Being an introvert isn’t a downfall it’s another healthy form of expression. She told me I show signs of an insecure woman and if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s a woman who has tricked herself into believing she’s whole and secure. Then, she celebrated me and showed me myself in a different lens. I liked the way I looked in the shade stable. She showed me that this wasn’t something that would hold me back because I was so much more than my social anxiety.
Ever since then my work relationships increased, I stopped tripping on my words as much, I’m more direct with my beliefs, I’m even a mild small talk starter, I raise my hand up and have taken public speaking roles at church! The constant shuttering, self-hate language and escapism has left. Don’t get me wrong, it still tries to steal my joy but now I celebrate myself through affirmations, laughing with myself and simply just not caring if I have bad timing with a hug or spit flies out of my mouth when I speak. I am who I am. I’m not awkward, I’m witty.
My advice is getting an accountability partner, ask your friends their opinions of you, take a trip down memory lane and figure out where it came from. Accept the fact that you have insecurities. Write daily affirmations about how bomb.com you are. Journal the goals you could attain if it wasn’t for your social anxiety. Describe the type of woman you know you’re supposed to be in deliverance and the opportunities you missed out on because you’re not her yet. And take risks! Ask questions even if you think they’re stupid. There’s nothing more beautiful than a confident woman. You can drink all the lemon-cucumber infused water and soak yourself in coconut oil all you want but there’s nothing like confidence!
As a 21-year-old millennial woman, I was excited to start off this article by sharing all the statistics and success stories of our fellow millennials dominating the entrepreneurship sphere. I mean, social media – yes just like Nicki Minaj called out Miley Cyrus, I’m calling out Instagram and Twitter for creating this fairytale of entrepreneurship being a norm amongst millennials when it’s not. I’m not saying it’s nonexistent but according to Score.org we’re less likely to follow through on becoming an entrepreneur. The interesting part is, 78% of us equate it to success and 62% considered starting a business. Mentally, we’re more entrepreneurial than past generations, we just don’t have much to show for.
Our primary setbacks are student loans and our lack of taking risks whether that is because our parents, especially if they’re immigrants conditioned us to be “practical” or the prices of cost of living. When womanhood is added, society alone tries to limit us from living our best lives.
Now, I bet you’re wondering where the Christian millennial woman has a place in all this. Girl, there’s a place in every market, demographic and area of expertise. I know the statistics makes it look like a place for tumbleweeds and not faith but that is where you back away and allow God to come in. A disclaimer before I carry on is there is nothing wrong with working for someone or having a “regular” job because our careers don’t define us, our proximity to Christ does, and therefore our character does too. As I was doing my research, majority of the sources acknowledged us for being genuine, more educated than past generations, innovative, creative, charitable and devoted to a life of a learning versus a life of wages. My observation is, the only thing we lack in is the fear of failure, but who can blame us?
First things first, God already has a plan for you, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV). As we all know, God created us with a plan to conquer anything through the power of love. His greatest commandment is for us to love Him with all our heart and to show that same grace and mercy towards others and ourselves. Entrepreneurship is a tool to help us get there while making a steady income. What’s great about God is He’s going to give you something your passionate about even if you’re unqualified. Here 7 tips to align your entrepreneurship endeavors with God’s will:
- Your business is a ministry.
As Christians, we live for Christ. Your business needs to live for the same thing. There needs to be problem you are solving whether that be creating a restaurant in an overlooked neighborhood to give them an option to having affordable wholefoods or making natural cosmetics. Be very direct on what you can accomplish. A mission statement and SWOT analysis shouldn’t be taken lightly, however don’t be concerned if you have to change them. Just make sure all your decisions are Holy Spirit led; don’t overcomplicate things.
- Don’t trip on yourself.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”. Even if you’re broke, don’t have a degree or anything to fall back on, if God has called you start a business, you better work with what you do have and stop wallowing in what you don’t. Also setup a savings account for resources you may need, cut back on costs, ask for help, do research in your market and find out what your customers and/or audience need.
- No market is off limits…within reason.
I thank God for DeVon Franklin because he is the first Christian I heard who is successful in film production while standing his ground in maintaining his duty to God. Not every market is for Christians; just use discernment and common sense to figure that one out. Perhaps if you don’t see Christians in a particular industry, it’s because you are the one to break that barrier. If God trusts you to do it, why are you limiting yourself?
- God, Family, Ministry.
Your first priority should be God. When you work on your relationship with God by becoming familiar with His word and following through with it, simultaneously you’re also loving on and caring for yourself because who knows you better than your Creator? Major key: God cares about your soul more than your ministry. Second is family, make sure your family is good before you advocate for others. Then ministry.
I’m a Christian Seventh-day Adventist; I follow the Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown), which means no work for the purpose of profit, I don’t cook or do house chores. I spend 24 hours resting from the complications of the world. I use it to read the Word uninterrupted, fellowship and exhale. Scientists say it leads to breaking toxic sleep cycles, restores your mental health due to stress, become more productive during the week to name a few. It’s also an act of faith to tell God, “You got this”! Also spend time taking risks, take a trip, go out with friends, and love your family.
- You better love yourself to health.
There’s mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health we need to keep up with. This may sound like a bold statement but I believe mental health is number one because it sets the tone for all the others. Millennials struggle more than past generations. In Canada, millennial women are the 2nd in the three high-risk groups for mental health issues. To maintain your mental health you should eat clean, drink lots of water, create healthy boundaries between yourself and your vices including every relationship you have, exercise at least three times a week to your comfort level, spend time in nature, set attainable short term then reach for the stars for long term goals and show love and allow yourself to be loved. Also read the Bible every morning, pray, journal and stretch!
- Use your schmoney wisely.
When money is funny and change is strange girl, give. Make sure you tithe and give offerings because the only thing you have to lose is the opportunity in gaining. Save for your passion project, pay your bills on time, if you don’t need it and barely want let the store keep it so you’ll have money for recreational things that will fulfill you.
That’s all! My last piece of advice is don’t police yourself. If you mess up here and there just get back up. And remember, you can only be a failure if your business becomes your idol. Don’t get caught up on what social media masquerades millennial entrepreneurship to be because now you know it’s mainly alternative news. Stop desiring entrepreneurship and finally take the steps to become an entrepreneur!