What is approach anxiety? Let’s see if this sounds familiar? You’re in the campus cafeteria, leaning back in a booth with your friends, playing with straw wrappers or what have you, and then she walks in: the crush - the infatuation - the redhead with the tattoos you’ve been thinking about talking to. You know you should go over and talk to her, but for whatever reason you can’t bring yourself to do it. In fact, you find yourself paralyzed. Your will and your body conflict. Maybe there’s a physical resistance, as if there’s an external force weighing you down on your shoulders, insisting you stay put. Or perhaps a small tsunami of past-attempt memories from the days of high school hit you square in your brain and tells you to avoid that feeling of rejection. Heart rate elevates, blood pressure hits a bell — you get the idea.
And then the next thing you know, your mind comes at you with you excuses. Understandable excuses, mind you. Relatable excuses. But excuses nonetheless. “She’s too pretty”, “she’s on the phone”, “she’s talking with a friend”, and so on may seem like perfectly reasonable validation not to go and take the chance, but in the end of the day you are perfectly physically capable of walking over to a pretty lady and saying something. The only reason why you can’t bring yourself to do it is because… Anxiety!
Does this hit your picket-fenced home? Good. Well, buckle up, because I’m about to give you some tips that can help you overcome that anxiety.
- Recognize the Fear
Whenever a pretty lady or a crush walks into the room, you can pretty much bet your testosterone levels that it wasn’t expected. You were caught off guard — perfectly normal! Notice the aforementioned physical signs, such as the heart beat playing a game of rapid leap frog or your blood pressure making a climb. Notice your inner dialogue — you want to talk to her but it’s immediately followed up by a list of excuses not to go make an introduction. This is fear. Recognize that your internal dialogue is fear.
2. Accept the Fear
And that fear’s okay. Accept that you have the fear.
In fact, girls will often like it when a guy walks up to her nervously. It confirms how pretty she is! Even still, this might be harder for some guys than others. Maybe the first time one guy’s tried approaching a girl she was terribly rude to him. And he’s just been too afraid to try again. Or perhaps a dude has intimacy issues due to past childhood trauma. The list of reasons can vary and should be worked out per individual reason. But very simply, on a general basis, it is better to accept the fear rather than run away from it or try to fight it. Mentally running or fighting the fear will only increase the fear. And as time goes on, you’ll find it completely normal and not uncommon to have feelings for another girl and to be nervous. You’re far from the only person who’s felt this way. Mind as well learn to accept them!
3. Worst case scenario/Best case scenario
Another useful tool is to be able to picture the worst case, best case scenario.
Sometimes it’s a useful trick to go absurd with the worst case scenario:
“The six foot redhead with the tattoos just turns the corner to the same book shelf you’re browsing. And then just imagine it! You walk over to her and she lets out her cat fangs and claws and starts scratching your face viciously like a hyena because your face looks like a wombat. You’re on the floor, bleeding. You mean to call out for help but you accidentally call out for mom. The librarian’s like ‘Pft! You’re calling out from your mom? Dufus!’ And then what do you know, your childhood hero comes crashing the ceiling and punches you in the balls. ‘Ha! You didn’t say exactly the right words in exactly the right meticulous order, you nerd! You deserve that!’. Your mom tweets ‘Lol’. Then you’re sent to prison. It’s an all guys prison. It’s horrible.”
But of course, that isn’t always the most necessary thing in the world. Try getting realistic with the worst case scenario. You approach and the worst-case scenario is she ignores you. Or she acknowledges you while still looking at her phone. Believe it or not, these scenarios aren’t as bad as your brain might blow them out of proportion to be. If she ignores you, it could be her way of telling you that you’re doing something wrong or have a bad vibe at that particular moment in time. Or maybe she has some snotty character attributes, who knows. Or if she’s absorbed in her cell phone, maybe she has a work emergency or she’s in a critical argument with her brother. Point is, these experiences aren’t as bad as one’s brain might inflate them to be in his head.
The best case scenario is different. Because once you visualize the best case scenario, chances are you’ll find yourself with more success than you originally thought. You walk over to her; you say hi; she says hi; you introduce yourself; she does; there’s an awkward silence but then you point out the book; she talks about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; you remember your favorite Sherlock Holmes movie; she gives you her opinion on her favorite and surprisingly you find yourselves talking for a full thirty minutes! You work up the courage to tease her a bit; you get to know her more. She seems really relaxed so you work up the nerve to ask for her number. She accepts! You go to a little-known coffee shop in town. First date is a success! Bam! Second date! And this time you do something unexpected and you find yourself in an antique store and you’re roleplaying as industrial revolutionists with each other! Time continues and you go for the kiss and the elation is through the roof! Your mind is blown, it’s so passionate!
Seems like it’s worth the chance talking to her, doesn’t it?
4. Just work on saying “Hello”
In the end of the day, there’s only so much one can keep in his head. But if a friend has challenged you to go up to your crush and “talk to her”, the pressure would feel quite real. “Hold an entire conversation facing such beauty?! Absurd!” I know, it can seem like an overwhelming concept. Instead of pressuring yourself and putting the high expectation of being Leonardo DiCaprio of all people, simplify your goal and say “Hi”. Think of it like a workout — the “hello” is the five pounds you can only manage right now. In the future, a whole casual conversation with her is the thirty pounds. And that fifty pounder dumbbell is inserting some charisma in there! See what I mean?
The illustration I gave before is the fantasy and the kind of goal you might have, but it’s not the 100% expectation. It’s always good to distinguish between fantasy and expectation. If the task of holding an entire conversation with her is too daunting, simply walk up to her, and say hello. Anything after that, be it awkward for you or not, is extra — it can’t take away the victory in the progression you’ve taken to simply say “hello” to begin with.
The first time you approach a crush can always be the most daunting, because it’s such an unknown and you have no idea what will happen. The best simile I can use is thinking of it like a rollercoaster. When you’re young and you’ve never tried a rollercoaster, going to such high heights and speeds can crumple every nerve in your body. But once you actually do it for the first time, it’s so thrilling and exhilarating you find yourself being the loudest one crying out among the riders — you even launch your hands up to the sky! And after it all the adrenaline rush and pride levels are just as high as the peak of the rollercoaster adventure itself. And you know what? Next time you try a rollercoaster, it’s not as nearly as scary as it was the first time trying.
God bless, God first,