Though I probably don't have enough of it to warrant a label, I think I do have some social anxiety. It's gotten a lot better over the years - when I was a kid it was really so much worse. Back then, I was often labeled "shy" or "quiet" and hated it because every time someone used one of those adjectives to describe me, it just seemed that much harder to overcome my difficulty of speaking up. Those jolts of anxiety I got from voicing my opinion were intensified when I discovered that, despite my desire to be talkative and efforts to be outgoing, I was still perceived as being "quiet." I had a hard time as it was being more vocal when not at ease, but when someone commented on how I was "shy," the self-consciousness would flare up even more, creating an even bigger hurdle to overcome when I wanted to express myself.
Like I said, it's a lot better now. I think through accidental exposure and repeated confrontation of social situations, I have adjusted. Just as I have begun to habituate to the fear of "feeling dirty" and other contamination-related concerns, I likewise have habituated to the fear of vocalizing my thoughts (and being evaluated negatively if do) by repeatedly putting myself or by being put in social situations that evoke anxiety. The thoughts that maybe I'm really obviously "weird" or "different" or "awkward" (or that my comments are somehow "dumber" than those of other people) still linger, but they are less intense and they don't hold as much influence over my choices as they used to. When I was a kid, I really grappled with insecurity and lack of self-confidence, and I still often do, but these days I am more often able to overcome that fear in order to make the decisions that I want to make and act how I want to act. In fact, I really like to talk. I did when I was a kid, too, but back then the fear of being judged and feeling embarrassment just seemed to overpower my eagerness to express myself.
What remains of that social anxiety tends to rear its ugly head when making phone calls for my job. When I have to make a new contact for the first time, my anxiety shoots through the roof. I type the number into the phone and just have to press "dial" whether I feel ready or not, because if I waited for the jitters to go away, I would never make that phone call. I do my best to sound professional and not nervous, but sometimes I get off the phone and still think, "Wow, that was special..." or "I said that the wrong way" or "I could have explained that better."
I try not to dwell on it, though, or reassure myself in a way that only feeds the fear. Instead I think: Maybe I sounded stupid, or maybe I didn't. Maybe it was a better-than-average phone call, or maybe it was worse. What's the worst case scenario? That I sounded unprofessional? What's so wrong with that? While it's not exactly the way I wanted to present myself, who cares? People say dumb things. People botch phone calls. People make mistakes. It happens. I'm not an exception and can't expect to be. Humans do things "wrong" sometimes. What makes me think that I'm any different? I'm not.
Putting it into perspective helps, as does writing about it here. I'm still coming down from the anxiety and jitters awakened by a few phone calls I had to make almost an hour ago, but if I have learned anything in treatment for OCD, it's that feelings are just that: feelings. They are not always a good barometer for what's a threat and what's not. I could have made an awesome phone call and felt awful about it, or I could have actually made a phone call that was awful but felt good about it. It all depends on how I interpret the situation. To use my feelings as the sole measurement of my performance would be to fall into the trap of one of those lovely "cognitive distortions" CBT therapists are always talking about - namely, emotional reasoning (i.e. I feel a certain way about something, therefore it must be true). I know better than believe my feelings all the time, especially when I suspect that my alarm system is a little out of whack. My body was already pumping with little waves of anxiety before I made the phone calls, so using that anxiety to judge the phone calls as a success or failure would be misleading.
As with other fears, it basically comes down to accepting uncertainty. Maybe I did well, maybe I didn't. I can't be sure and I don't need to be.