Social Anxiety is not something that society talks about. Most people like to pretend that everything is okay and that their lives are perfect.
Mainstream popular culture encourages this mindset. Celebrities are airbrushed into physical perfections in our magazines and movies. And their lives are carefully constructed in autobiographies written by highly paid PR agents and ghostwriters.
But the truth is that social anxiety is a real problem in our society. Many suffer from it. Including many celebrities, famous intellectuals, and leaders.
Because of their ability to reach people (and their groups of devoted followers) it is important that our famous people speak out about social anxiety. Especially if they themselves suffer from it. They can provide an example of perseverance and success to many who think that social anxiety prevents them from living the lives they want.
Let’s take a look at some people whose names are known all across the world. They’ve all suffered from social anxiety and they’ve all had the courage to speak out about it.
Everyone knows who Johnny Depp is. The famous actor is responsible for bringing to the screen some of the most talked about characters in recent cinematic history. He’s perhaps best known for playing Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Most people however don’t know that Johnny Depp is quiet in public. In fact people have described him as “rude” because they were unaware that Jack Sparrow is a character and not his actual personality.
For those who have suffered from social anxiety this is a familiar judgement. People think that those who shy away from social interactions because of anxiety are rude or anti-social when the truth is that they would love to join in on the conversation but they just don’t know how.
Here’s what Depp says about his experiences: “As a teenager I was so insecure. I was the type of guy that never fitted in because he never dared to choose. I was convinced I had absolutely no talent at all. For nothing. And that thought took away all my ambition too.”
Even today he admits that he feels uncomfortable in the spotlight and in public.
Monroe was the ultimate “it girl”. She was one of the first of the young beautiful model/actresses that hollywood and the world would obsess over. She is widely recognized as the prototypical sex symbol.
But was she as confident as her public image claimed? Not even close. She once said, “I am alone; I am always alone no matter what.”
In fact if you read many of her interviews she reveals her struggles with anxiety.
Her doctors said she suffered from “severe fears and frequent depressions” and she admitted to using medication to help her control these fears and moods. In the end she is thought to have overdosed deliberately using those medications.
Monroe’s life could be thought of as simply a tragedy but that would be to deliberately ignore all the years of success she had living with social anxiety in one of the most public and stressful professions on earth. Her life was about being social. And she made it work for a long time.
Daniel Tosh is probably the last person you would expect to have social anxiety. The man is a standup comedian with his own television show and is constantly having to go up in front of large crowds and make them laugh.
But Tosh is also one of the most honest celebrities out there when it comes to his private struggles with social anxiety.
Here is how Daniel Tosh responded to someone who asked him how he managed to do his job: he said he creates a character, an alter ego, for his audience and he becomes that character for the duration of the performance.
In other words Daniel Tosh pretends to be someone else. This gives him the freedom to act as crazy as he wants since it’s not him doing it, it’s his character.
While this doesn’t solve his social anxiety it does help his suppress it in the short term. If you have some big meeting coming up and you need a quick “cheat” to survive it consider adopting his method. Find a charismatic character from a movie or television show and just pretend to be him during your presentation. Talk like he does, move like he does, and just be him.
The famous actress opened up about her struggles with mental illness and anxiety in the film “Panic: A Film about Coping”.
She explains how as a little girl people believed she might be on the autistic spectrum. But through years of struggle and improving herself she grew into the person that she is today.
Basinger used psychotherapeutic methods to help her get over her social anxiety but admits that she still struggles sometimes.
Lessons From The Famous
What do all of these people have in common? The most obvious is that they have all suffered from social anxiety. They have all felt the fear of anxiety and panic in social situations.
But they all also recognized their fear. They didn’t hide from it. They didn’t give up. Instead they admitted that they had a problem and then they made a plan to fix the problem. Each of their solutions to their anxiety is different from the other.
Daniel Tosh came up with his system of pretending to be someone else in order to escape the anxiety of being himself. Kim Basinger sought out psychotherapy from professional therapists. And Monroe used medication.
Each one of them admitted that their social anxiety was something that could be conquered and lived with.
However each one of them also admitted that they continued to live with social anxiety. The methods that they used did not get rid of it totally.
This is because methods like pretending to be someone else or medications only address the symptoms of social anxiety. They help you avoid the feelings of anxiety without addressing the root cause of what triggers it in the first place.
You can create coping strategies to dull your feelings of anxiety but I suggest the better path is to begin with understanding what social anxiety is in detail and then learning how to address the core reason of why you have it in the first place.
If you’re ready to begin on this journey then please sign up for my Free 4 Day Social Anxiety Course below.