The Spontaneity vs. Planning Balance In Overcoming Social Anxiety

Another thing to balance for a life well lived.

On October 11, 2019, my 5-year battle with social anxiety came to an end.

Socializing is meant to be spontaneous, while social anxiety centres around planning – planning what to say, how to act, and hypothesizing unlikely scenarios to execute your plan. Projecting into the future is what I unknowingly did all the time, and it only made the anxiety worse. Then, amplified by avoidance of social situations, a wretched fear grew to infect every ounce of my being.

Suddenly, BAM! It was gone.

It happened in what the medical community calls a spontaneous remission. Spontaneous because I didn’t plan for it. It was just me and a build-up of social exposure leading up to that night of October 11, 2019.

Of course, I had to plan to conduct exposure therapy and go through counselling and all that. But the socializing itself needed to be spontaneous. This means:

  • No planning what to say next
  • Not worrying about what the other person will think of me
  • And definitely not letting my learned, yet perverse, state of avoidance take hold

I needed to plan my way out of social anxiety and take the steps necessary to learn the ropes of overcoming irrational fear.

And on October 11, 2019, I finally learned how to be social.

And it wasn’t as difficult as I made it out to be, I just needed to be spontaneous

Cause, after all, life itself is best lived that way.

Reckless Spontaneity

You cannot be spontaneous 100% of the time.

There is a reason why so much of our brain is dedicated to planning.

Children naturally exist in this state 100% of the time. This is also why they can’t survive on their own. Just ask Pinocchio in the Land of the Toys.

Therefore, a balance is needed.

I’ve been searching for a direction to take my life in for a while. With this, came planning. Planning what to study in school, what jobs to apply for, how to spend my free time… While no endeavour is guaranteed to go as planned, the plan helps me structure my days.

I fell victim to over-planning in my social anxiety. I also fell victim to it when setting goals and crafting my life vision.

Man makes plans and God laughs.

God laughed at me twice and I realized how over-planning life is a colossal waste of time.

Welcoming Spontaneity and Planned Action

Over time I’ve learned to go about my days welcoming spontaneity like a child while having a long-term vision for my life as I set short-term goals to realize it.

Welcoming spontaneity allowed me to experience October 11, 2019 in a way that anxious planning would never allow for.

The beauty of sharing this planet with almost 8 billion humans is that you never know who you’ll come across. And I’ve encountered many new faces on a journey away from the restrictiveness of social anxiety.

Socializing is best conducted spontaneously. However, planning your life has its place too.

Welcoming the spontaneous while being disciplined to stick to your plan and adjust makes God’s laughter well received.


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