Dealing with Social Anxiety in Law School


Happy Monday!

Today was my first day of 3L year. It is so hard to believe that this is my last year. This semester, I only have one class on Monday's so it was a pretty low-stress first day. This does lead me into my topic for today's blog though. The class I have on Monday's is Business Associations and it is one of the few classes I have had in law school where none of my close friends are taking it with me. This lead to me having a small anxiety attack when I got to class this morning and had to decide where to sit... alone. I know that seems a bit silly but regardless, there was a flash of panic when I walked into the classroom. Thankfully, it passed after a few deep breaths and I found a good seat toward the front near an acquaintance who has always been a sweetheart.

I think social anxiety is often overlooked. I know it took me a long time to realize that I was struggling with it. I would get so nervous about events that I couldn't sleep the night before as I laid awake overthinking every possible situation. I would stand in a room and imagine that everyone was thinking the worst about me or my smile was looking weird. After a social interaction, I overthink the interaction endlessly. As a person who has always struggled with social anxiety, law school has presented some interesting challenges. It is a high-stress environment to begin with so any anxiety on top of that is magnified. Walking into big lecture halls stresses me out because I am always afraid of doing something embarrassing like tripping and I am naturally very shy so networking events are my personal version of hell. In my time as a law student (and just growing older and wiser), I have figured out some tricks for dealing with my social anxiety, particularly in the stress of law school. These are not from a licensed medical professional, they are not exciting ideas and they may not work for everyone but these are the simple tricks that have helped me to deal with my social anxiety.


1. Practice Deep Breathing
I feel like everyone says this but it seriously does work. Like I said earlier in the post, a few deep breaths is one of the best ways to calm myself down when I am starting to get anxious. It is simple but for me, it really does help.

2. Think Happy Thoughts
I can fall into a pretty negative thought stream when I get anxious. One of the other simple tricks I use to combat my social anxiety is to simply think happy thoughts. I try to find something positive to focus on and avoid any anxious or negative thoughts by focusing on the positive. It doesn't have to be big; just a small positive thought to keep the anxiety at bay.

3. Start Small
Something I have used all along (even before law school) in my battle with social anxiety is to make small progress and call that a win. I will conquer one small thing I am anxious about and just keep doing that until I have accomplished the things that were causing my anxiety.

4. Fake it until you Make it
This is one of my favorite pieces of advice. If you fake it until you make it, no one will ever know how anxious you were. So sometimes, you just have to listen to some pump up music, give your self a pep talk, slap a smile on and fake it til you make it. For me, most of my anxiety is completely invisible to the average person so long as I fake it. This method has gotten me through a lot of networking events and the whole first week of law school.

5. Practice makes Perfect
I will say that just like anything, practice and repetition make it easier. The more networking events I attend, the easier they get. The longer I am a law student, the less cold calls stress me out. Fake it til you make it and eventually it will get easier. I don't think social certain situations will ever be easy for me, but they do get easier with practice.

3 comments

  1. I have similar experiences at law school, and have had social anxiety most of my life. One of the biggest problems is not wanting to answer too many questions in class, because I don't want to be 'that person' who's annoying etc, but I feel like there's not as much contribution in class... haha

    Been enjoying reading your posts for the past couple of months :)
    -Emma

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    1. It gets easier. You figure out what is a proper amount of participation. I have had those concerns before too. :)

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  2. Thanks so much for this post Brandy. I have really bad social anxiety and it's been hard at school, especially at the start of the year trying to meet people and make friends. It's really encouraging to know someone so successful understands how it feels. ♥

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