How I Overcame Social Anxiety and Began Chasing My Dreams

How I Overcame Social Anxiety and Began Chasing My Dreams

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!  

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Pregnancy, Planning, and Paperwork

Pregnancy, Planning, and Paperwork

So, you’re pregnant. Congratulations!! If you’re like most new moms to be: excited, overwhelmed, and counting down the weeks left until you meet your little bundle of joy that you have been carrying for 9 months.

But, if you are also like most new moms to be, you’re also pretty tired from being pregnant and having to work long hours to ensure you are financially secure for your little one or existing family, even if you have a partner. Whether your self-employed, got a 9-5, 5-10, or managing a few side hustles all once, I’ve compiled 5 key points to remember when you’re a work ninja, but also expecting!

My company, Baby Steps Guru provides maternity and parental leave guidance, and saves parents a headache, hassle, and lots of time, knowing how to navigate through the business side of having a baby!
Time better spent on bonding with your newborn baby, instead of handling paperwork!

As someone with extensive knowledge and more than a decade of experience, when dealing with group benefits, human resources, and government agencies such as Service Canada, I know how to make the planning of your little arrival less stressful.

I’ve listed 5 tips no one ever tells you but is important to know when preparing for your little one and can save you a lot of prep time and unnecessary paperwork:

TIP 1:  If you are employed, make sure you review and/or update your group benefits prior to your mat leave. It’s way more time consuming and a headache to get it done on your leave. If your self-employed and have an independent plan, notify your agent directly to look into your family options

TIP 2: Speaking of self-employment, did you know that you could qualify for EI maternity benefits if you’re self-employed?? For more details on this, email me at hello@babystepsguru.com

TIP 3: If you have a medically complicated pregnancy and need to leave work early, ensure you utilize all your sick time, and vacation time if it can’t be carried forward to when you return. You don’t want to lose those days! FYI, you could also apply for sickness EI prior to starting your mat leave

TIP 4: You only need 600 hours to qualify for EI maternity or sickness benefits, but you need them within a 1-year period from your last day worked.  Hours worked prior to 1-year period do not get used.

TIP 5:  If your baby needs additional care and needs to stay in the hospital for medical reasons for 1 week or more, your mat leave period could potentially be extended for the duration of the period that your baby remains in the hospital before going home. For more info on this, feel free to send me an email.

Bonus tip: Did you know you could apply for maternity leave up to 8 weeks prior to your due date if you’re no longer working?

If you are expecting and would like to discuss information in this post or other maternity benefit related question or would like to know about the services I provide, send me an email at hello@babystepsguru.com or visit my website, www.babystepsguru.com .

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What to do with Your Lemons?

What to do with Your Lemons?

“Some of the best lessons that you learned came wrapped in sandpaper” -Lisa Nichols

If I had been full time instead of part time in school, I could have graduated about two years earlier. I would probably be living on my own right now, if I would have just educated myself on personal finance. Maybe I’d even have a car. And that guy… The one that made my heart flutter and inspired me to write again; I should have moved to his city. We’d probably be together- engaged even. What if I would’ve quit my old job earlier than I did? What if…

I could go on like that all day if you’d let me… Or if I did not have progress to make. Many people I know probably could too. They probably do. And I hope they are reading what I am about to write: Please stop doing that! Please stop regretting the leaps you did or did not take. Please stop feeling guilty for what you did, or said, or thought at one time or another. Please quit blaming yourself for where you are or are not in life. Take accountability yes, but please stop beating yourself up. Forgive, forgive, forgive yourself!  I know it is easier said than done, but it is vital that you flip the switch on how you process your past, if you’d like to make accomplishments in the future.

The first reason is because you are human. As human beings we work with what we have and this often times determines our next step. We have to pay bills; so we stay at a job that’s not so rewarding but provides a steady paycheck. We keep a job with consistent pay so we can live; so we lighten our course load at school so we don’t burn out (and because school is not cheap). This is what we do. We find a way to make a way. And then we get through. Acknowledge the fact that at the time, that thing you did – whatever it was, was the right choice for you given what you had to work with. And this brings me to my next point.

The second reason you should stop dwelling on past “mistakes” is because you were not who you are right now. The mindset you have, your rationale and your wants and needs are not the same as they were 5 years ago, 6 months ago- or even yesterday in some cases. You are not the same. You have been through things since then, you have learned lessons from your actions, both good and bad. So now what seems like the worst mistake ever was once the best decision you could have made, but because now you’ve seen the outcome, your opinion has changed. Right now, you are like a defeated general looking over a map and pin pointing everywhere your soldiers should have went or every move they should have made, because the war is over. And like the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Now let me give you one more thing to look at.

You only know where you “went wrong” because you have since learned from your experiences. I can confidently say that at least 75% percent of your biggest regrets taught you one thing or another about life, money, love, family and last but not least, yourself. Take a few moments to think about some of your regrets. Now think about how you now maneuver in life because of the lessons you were taught. Some were hard lessons, I don’t doubt it. But hard lessons or not; it happened, you cannot change it, so why not make some lemonade?

Sitting in the past not only keeps you from prospering in your future, it makes you neglect your present. Who are you now? What good are you doing now? And why would you ever let yesterday, keep you from today? Or tomorrow? You are worth more than your mistakes. You are not the sum of your failures or accomplishments, but the sum of the lessons you learned from both.

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How to Maintain Balance in Your Life

How to Maintain Balance in Your Life

Life can be overwhelming, and your personal health will suffer without proper care and the only way to ensure wellness is to maintain balance. The importance of a balanced lifestyle prevents any illness and disease that can arise from not taking care of your mind and body.

This may be a challenge but will be beneficial in the long run. Trust me, being a student I have realized that the only way to simply get through the week, it is crucial that I take some time out of my day to chill out. It may have taken a few mental breakdowns to figure out that stressing out impacts my well-being, but it is never too late to get on track.

Imagine working hard every day and not being able to enjoy it. It’s a total tragedy to live every day only to go home and start all over again with little motivation and enthusiasm. You have the ability to undertake everything you desire you just have to organize your time.

Follow these tips and I promise you, you will be wondering what it felt like before you didn’t have balance in your life.

Relax, Refresh and Recharge

Make a commitment to have some you time. If you’re treating your body like a machine on overload then you must take out the batteries and rest. Take note of all aspects of your life work, play, relationships, etc. By simply organizing your weekly schedules using day planners you can visually see how to go about your day, and fit in a 10-15minute break.

Also, make some time to visit friends and family and enjoy the love that surrounds you. This can be done by fitting in a lunch/dinner date or even spending a fun night out.

Make Cuts

After organizing your life (which btw takes time so do not be discouraged – have a routine and stick to it), go through your weekly schedule and eliminate the non-essential activities. Ask yourself, does this benefit me? Will I need this in the long-run? Your life, your decisions.

Lights Out

I cannot stress enough how important it is to get a good nights rest. Not only will you be relaxed, but sleep is an advantage to better health. Staying up late attempting to finish something will end in nothing but a disaster because it will be rushed leaving you exhausted. Being well rested gives you more energy to get more done in a calmer manner.

Remember that you are only human and can only handle so much before crashing. Do not believe that there is a certain way of living, know that being empowering and kind will be the best thing for yourself. Treat your body well and I assure you, you will see results. Feeling beautiful makes you beautiful.

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Get Your #BodyGoals Without The Gym

Get Your #BodyGoals Without The Gym

I love fitness, but let’s be honest. Sometimes the gym sucks. Counting reps. Counting minutes on the treadmill or stair climber. Counting the seconds until you can get out of your sweaty sports bra. Even to the most dedicated gym rat, working out can sometimes be an off-putting mix of painful, frustrating and flat-out boring. And if you already don’t like working out, the gym can really feel like a sweaty, smelly torture chamber. Thankfully, the gym isn’t the only way you can work on your #bodygoals. (more…)

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