The time I met a fellow socially anxious scientist (Part 1)
Last week, I spontaneously decided to go to a talk given by one of the first black women to receive a PhD in her field. I’m interested in gender and racial disparities in STEM, so I thought the talk would be worthwhile. Also, I am in dissertation-writing mode, and I needed a break from writing. The speaker took questions at the end of the talk, and someone in the row behind me asked a question about having confidence in academia. She mentioned how she hates giving talks and finds conferences terrifying despite her success in her field.
My social anxiety radar was immediately activated. All I could think of was that I needed to talk to this person! MUST CONNECT WITH ANOTHER SOCIALLY ANXIOUS PERSON!
I’ve been dying to talk to another person in academia with social anxiety; obsessing about it. I’ve even talked about this in groups. And here was a chance. As we filed out of the lecture hall, I ended up right behind the person and said, “Hey! I really resonated with your question!” She and I chatted for a few minutes while walking back to our respective labs, and as she turned to go one way, and me another, she introduced herself.
A few days later, I found her email address and asked if she wanted to get coffee (ironically, I don’t drink coffee) and chat about the challenges of being socially anxious in science. So, we are meeting up. Tomorrow! And now I am freaking out. It is going to be sooo awkward!
The author of this story is a postdoctoral associate in the biomedical sciences where she engages in clinical research using magnetic resonance imaging. She enjoys biking, reading, and warm weather. This story was published on September 10, 2018, on the author’s blog, Science and Social Anxiety (available here), and has been republished here with her permission.