Talking About Overcoming Social Anxiety and Perfectionism on the Smart Habits for Translators Podcast

I’m thrilled to be able to share this with you. A couple of weeks ago, I recorded an interview for the Smart Habits for Translators podcast. We talked about social anxiety, perfectionism, freelancing, and more.

This was a BIG DEAL for me. I don’t have a vision board, but if I did, “be a guest on a podcast” would have been on there. There’s something empowering and exhilarating about doing the things that social anxiety always told me I couldn’t do.

I’m including links below if you want to have a listen! The context of the discussion is freelance translation, but I think it could be relatable for any type of freelancer or creative entrepreneur.

HUGE THANK-YOU to the hosts, Veronika Demichelis and Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo. And a warm, grateful thank-you to Corinne McKay for connecting us.


I think it’s also available on a variety of other podcasting platforms as well!

If you end up having a listen, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

How I Deal With Self-Doubt as a Shy Blogger (6 tips)

I wrote a post in January where I shared the inherent challenge in blogging about what it’s like to be shy or have social anxiety.

Basically, the thing you’re blogging about is also the thing that makes you feel like you should hold back from blogging at all. Here’s that post:

Today I wanted to share some ideas on how to shift your mindset away from self-doubt, self-consciousness, and imposter syndrome, so that you can calm some of that creative anxiety.

I hope you enjoy!

Related post: I’m Having Social Anxiety About My Social Anxiety Blog

#1. Trust that your REAL is better than your “perfect.”

Photo from Canva Pro

Don’t wait to share your thoughts until that fantasy moment when you finally achieve perfection…

… because that moment will never come.

Even if you get to the place you currently think of as “perfect,” your inner perfectionist will just try to move the bar higher and tell you that you’re still not good enough to relax and feel confident.

Your inner perfectionist is wrong: you are already good enough! Share your voice.

#2. Realize that other people don’t see you the way you see yourself.

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I’ve had so many people tell me how shocked they were to find out I have severe social anxiety.

They always thought I was confident and had my shit together. (HA!)

No matter how “honest” we think we are being with ourselves, there’s a very good chance we’re magnifying our own shortcomings and minimizing our strengths.

No one is tracking your ups and downs as closely as you are.

(Have you kept track of every time I’ve made a typo on this blog or shared a thought that wasn’t earth-shatteringly insightful? Almost certainly not.)

Related reading: Ashley from Mental Health @ Home recently did a post called Do Your Blog Posts Say What You Think They Do? on the potential disconnect between what we put out there and how others interpret it. Definitely worth a read!

#3. Keep in mind that you may help people without ever finding out about it.

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How often do you read a blog post without leaving a comment, even if you enjoyed the content?

That’s okay! There’s no obligation to engage with a blogger, Instagrammer, YouTuber, or any other kind of content creator. (Although it is usually appreciated!)

So if you’re ever feeling like you aren’t having an impact, just consider that for every person who does like or comment, there could be 10 more who also enjoy your post but (for whatever harmless reason) don’t interact with you.

You won’t always get to know the impact of what you put out there, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t creating value for others.

#4. Accept that you will feel self-doubt.

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Fear can co-exist with creativity and expression.

It takes courage to put yourself out there as an imperfect person. It takes strength to show vulnerability. It’s easier to conceal our soft spots, including from ourselves.

If you can learn to accept that you will feel self-doubt and stop trying to fight it, you can redirect that energy toward creating and sharing content even while feeling unsure.

#5. Think of it as joining the conversation.

Photo from Canva Pro

Not every post has to be epic.

You don’t have to save the world with every piece of content.

Try to create some mental space between your content and yourself. That way, you can think of creating content as contributing your thoughts to the ongoing conversation rather than baring your very soul and deepest self to the world.

Which sounds TERRIFYING even in the hypothetical.

#6. Take your own advice.

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Think of what you might tell your best friend if they confided in you and said, “My ideas are garbage. I can’t do this.”

Now tell those things to yourself, because the shy writer inside you needs a best friend, and that best friend is you.

Those are my 6 tips for putting your thoughts into the world even if you struggle with self-doubt! I hope you found them relatable.

These ideas are not (sadly) magic pills that I can just take and then go create content fearlessly. I have to work through shyness and self-doubt every day.

Some days I’m not in the right head space to even want to feel more confident (the self-sabotage struggle is real).

But they do help me: I’ve managed to put out 47 blog posts and 140+ Instagram posts since rebooting my blog and account in November 2019 (aaaaah!!!).

So, from one self-conscious creator to another: YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!!!

You don’t have to be perfect to bring value to others.

Besides. Has holding yourself back made you doubt yourself LESS? I say we might as well put ourselves out there.

What are some ways you deal with imposter syndrome and that niggling inner voice of self-doubt?

How My Husband Helps Me Deal With Parenting Perfectionism

“Why do I get so angry at the kids?” I said tearfully to my husband this past Tuesday night (shortly after writing this post). “I always thought I would be so patient. But I feel like a bitch mom.”

“You’re an amazing mother,” he replied. (I’m omitting our pet names for each other to save you from gagging.) “You’re just way too hard on yourself. I don’t think you’re actually angry at the kids… I think you’re angry at yourself. For not meeting your own impossible standards.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the conversation that helped me break out of the parenting perfectionism/anxiety trap I had been in for weeks.

Perfectionism and anxiety rob you of the present moment

It’s hard impossible to be present, playful, and calm with two tiny tornadoes when your inner voice is always there narrating for you in the most toxic way: “You’re bad at this. You’re doing it wrong. You’re not doing enough. You’re ruining your kids. This is all your fault. Why aren’t you better at this?”

These feelings tend to sneakily build up over time, until I finally break down in tears. In those moments, I rely heavily on my husband to validate and reassure me, while calling out my inner bully.

Sometimes I just can’t do it for myself.

When I get stuck seeing the trees, my husband helps me step back and see the forest.

Perfectionism and anxiety keep you trapped in the details

Photo by Todd Trapani from Pexels

I get lost in the trees, focusing on how each one isn’t perfect, and taking on all the blame and guilt for every knick and knot.

My husband can see the whole forest. He sees that our family is healthy, that our kids are happy, and that their mama is doing way better than she lets herself believe.

Our marriage is not perfect. The trees of our relationship forest have seen some shit. But when my mental health and self-esteem are on the line, there is no one else who can soothe my soul and help me silence my inner bully the way Jesse does.

To the supportive partners out there: Thank you.

I wish there were more of you in the world. Your support is a potent antidote to the toxic thoughts that run through the mind of someone who struggles with perfectionism, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Fall 2019. Shortly after Jesse’s return from deployment overseas.

Facing My Fear of Talking on Video

I’ve been getting viddy with it.

I’m having complete blogger’s block today, so I thought I would share 3 videos from the past week that I shared on Instagram. (Apologies if you follow me on both platforms and have seen these already.)

I want to share these on here because I feel like they capture many sides of the social anxiety experience:

  • The first one was filmed on a “really bad” anxiety day (that one was hard to film!).
  • The second one talks about shopping anxiety and compares my kids to drunk dinosaurs, and then features me coming back on to assure everyone that my kids are not, in fact, drunk. (Jesse tells me this was clearly a social anxiety safety behaviour, because anyone who thought I was actually giving my kids alcohol would be crazy.)
  • And the third one goes into perfectionism, which is something I haven’t written much about it on here, but plan to.

I hope you get something out of the videos! I’ll get my writer inspiration back for the next post. 🙂

Filming on a “bad” anxiety day

It’s shaky and there’s an editing glitch partway through… but, fuck it, we’re doing it live. (Not really live.)

Mall anxiety, driving anxiety, and drunk dinos

Perfectionism… and Batman

This one has another glitch near the end where a segment plays twice in a row… gaaaah…. can I let this one go? Should I? Must I?! IT’S A VIDEO ABOUT PERFECTIONISM. Fuck. I have to let it stay as is. I know I do.

And just in case it’s on your mind as well — I do find it strange and surprising that I can talk so candidly on video. Imperfectly. With imperfect lighting and glitchy editing and all sorts of amateur-hour stuff.

But I’m doing it, finally. I’m committed to this messy process of learning and growth.

And I also feel like I’m committed to something bigger than me — I want to document real social anxiety and everything that comes with it, from many angles and content formats.

I want to help people feel less alone. I want to shed light on a very quiet condition — because how many people with social anxiety feel ready to share? I’m finally there, and I feel like it’s my duty and my privilege to share the journey.

I’m all in on this.

Apparently I’m feeling all lofty and impassioned today, after all. 🙂


Anxious Thoughts #1: What Are Cognitive Distortions?

Today’s post was inspired by Caz’s informative series on the topic (cognitive distortions, not jaws of death). Check out her post on 10 thinking errors of depression that could be ruining your life. She has follow-up posts on the same topic as well!

Welcome to your brain gone wonky

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When I was doing my cognitive-behavioural therapy program for social anxiety, we learned about cognitive distortions, or, as one psychotherapist I used to see called them, “wonky thinking.”

One way of understanding cognitive distortions is to imagine looking at the world through a negative filter, where you see a warped version of reality that you interpret as true. It’s a biased thinking pattern that affects how you interpret yourself, other people, and the world around you.

Everyone has moments of wonky thinking. What is life if not a collection of subjective experiences that get all twirled together in our minds for better or worse, like salty, delicious mind pretzels? (…I’m hungry.)

But people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) can be practically drowning in distortions (me) and this affects their (our) well-being and mental health. And in the case of SAD, these distortions usually focus on our performance or what people think of us.

It’s like seeing yourself and the world through rose-tinted glasses, except less rose-tinted and more… judgy finger-pointing.

Good times.

Knowledge is power and so are giggles

Photo by Francesco De tommaso from Pexels

The point of learning about cognitive distortions is to begin recognizing them so that you can eventually challenge them.

There are plenty of Very Authoritative Articles providing clinical descriptions of cognitive distortions, and they are of course extremely valuable. But given that Very Authoritative Articles are generally not my jam (I prefer honey anyway) (with butter) (it’s heresy to have honey without butter), I decided to explain the distortions from the perspective of a person who often experiences them.

It is light-hearted (ish) because that’s how I like to approach things, but I don’t mean for it to sound like I’m taking serious matters lightly. I just need a little levity in my life when dealing with heavy topics like this.

The other note I’d like to make is that I wrote this list back when I was in therapy. I’ve come a long way since then in mastering my wonky thoughts.

Here is the list!

Cognitive distortions common to social anxiety

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  • Probability overestimation: A bad thing is likely to happen (except it’s not actually that likely).
  • Catastrophizing: If a bad thing happens, it will be catastrophic. One bad thing will unleash a domino effect where each domino is laced with horror and despair until every one of us is devoured by the bloodthirsty jaws of inescapable death (credit for that exquisite turn of phrase goes to Moana’s grandma in this opening scene.)
  • Mind reading: I know what you’re thinking about me, and it’s bad.
  • Fortune telling: I have an invisible crystal ball that is telling me that this is going to end badly. (There’s some overlap with many of these.)
  • Personalization: Whatever it is, whenever it happened, if it was bad, it was my fault.
  • Minimizing the positives: This is the “yeah, but” distortion. If you call me brave, I will say (in my mind), “Yeah, but you only think that because [you don’t know me that well/I’m medicated/you’re trying to make me feel better].”
  • Discounting coping skills: If something bad or hard happens (and it will), I won’t be able to handle it.
  • Should statements: One of our group therapists called this “shoulding all over yourself.” I should be better at this. I shouldn’t need so much help or time. I should never be a bother to anyone. [I am the queen of shoulding all over myself. I’m SO full of should, you don’t even know.] Applies to “must” and “must not” statements too.
  • All-or-nothing/black-and-white thinking: Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. If I don’t hit a personal best on deadlifts today, everyone will think I slacked on training and it will just prove to them that I am lazy and undisciplined. 
  • Selective attention and memory: Noticing and remembering the negative more than the positive. That one temper tantrum this morning means that my kids are miserable with me as a mother and I am not doing a good enough job. (Never mind that our kids are happy, healthy, and loved.)

Such progress I’ve made, though

Photo by Singkham from Pexels

I used to think I really could read minds, and it never occurred to me that my interpretations might actually be wrong. That sounds arrogant until you consider that all my interpretations about myself were negative.

I also used to think that my social anxiety “quirks” made me unlovable and “bad.” But when I saw the others in my CBT group express those same thoughts and behaviours, it did not seem bad or ugly. It made me feel great empathy for them.

Over time, I’ve learned to extend that same empathy toward myself. And laugh a little at myself, too, but not meanly.

For the longest time, I had this weird feeling of not really “living” my life. I called it living a meta-life. I judged myself and imagined others judging me rather than actually being able to engage in the moment.

This sensation has become less intense over time, and I do think a lot of that is thanks to learning not to trust every knee-jerk thought and reaction I have.

Can I be a little sappy for a sec?

Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

I found this scrawled in my therapy notes, and thought I would share it because it reminds me of how much I was learning, even in those early stages of treatment:

“Black-and-white thinking is setting yourself up for failure. Learn to tolerate uncertainty and imperfection, and you’ll unlock a whole world of colour.”

Happy Friday you guys.

I really need a snack now.

6 Things I’d Tell My Shy Younger Self (About Mental Health and Self-Acceptance)

How many times have you wished you could go back and give your younger self a hug, or maybe a good shake, to spare them (you) from all the tough stuff that’s still to come?

On the one hand, I know that there is huge value in learning the lessons and doing the work. I don’t know if I would *actually* go back and tell myself the things below. But on the other hand, it’s cathartic and therapeutic to imagine what you would say, you know?

So here are 6 things I would tell a younger me about shyness, mental health, and accepting myself (including my body):

#1 You don’t have to please everyone all the time

I’m not saying you can’t please people ever. I’m just saying you don’t have to do it at the expense of your own needs. (I say, as someone who still does it. But this is a time travel letter so I can change the past which then changes the future, right, so do as I say and not as I have done thus far in my/our life.)

If you spend your life as a chronic people pleaser, it will lead to:

  • thinking of yourself as a social chameleon
  • censoring and filtering yourself to match the energy and personalities of the people around you because you’re afraid of how people will react if they know the “real” you
  • feeling like your preferences (and often just your existence ) are an imposition on others

The more time you spend grooming yourself to be as inoffensive as possible to the world, the more you will be tormented by the question, “Who am I, then?”

Don’t live your life apologetically.

#2 It’s okay to make mistakes

Perfection is a toxic mind mirage, and pursuing it will shatter your self-confidence and productivity. You will become desperate to just reach perfection so that you can finally relax.

Perfectionism in the clinical sense is not healthy. It goes beyond just being driven, or “Type A,” or having high personal standards. It is disordered thinking.

Here is the ridiculous list of things you will strive to make perfect:

You’ll want to be:

  • the PERFECT mother
  • the PERFECT wife
  • the PERFECT entrepreneur

You’ll be obsessed with nailing down:

  • the PERFECT daily routines
  • the PERFECT home organization system
  • the PERFECT wardrobes for you and your children
  • the PERFECT meal plans
  • the PERFECT workout routines
  • the PERFECT defensive driving techniques (not even kidding)
  • the PERFECT path that PERFECTLY balances your PERFECT career choice and PERFECTLY PURSUED passions

What, was that annoying to read? Was there clearly an excessive emphasis on the word PERFECT?


Actually no, DON’T TRY THAT. I forgot the goal of this letter for a sec.

Listen. You will NEVER, EVER get “there.” Because “there” will keep moving even if you get closer to it.

Good enough is good enough and you’re good enough so stop it. (But also seek help because you don’t need to get over this alone.)

#3 Your body is okay

I’m not going to say “your body is perfect and flawless and you make sunsets cry” or any other platitudes that do no one any good.

No one has the perfect body. (If they did, they probably wouldn’t think it was perfect anyway and also everyone poops so next time you’re putting other people up on a pedestal just remember it’s not the only kind of pedestal they sit on.)

Someday, you’ll look back at photos of yourself over the years and realize how totally okay you’ve been all along.

But at the time, you were worried about things like:

  • Cellulite
  • Stretch marks
  • The scar from where the doctors saved you and your son’s lives with an emergency c-section (your tummy now hangs over the scar, creating what you consider a “shelf of shame“)
  • The fact that you think your face looks “weird” and “like a naked mole-rat” without glasses on. (You really need to work on your self-talk.)
  • The angle of your teeth (“underachieving on the bottom and overachieving on top”)
  • The slope of your nose (“it gets way too proud of itself halfway down and then wallows in its own shame at the bottom”)
  • Your cuticles (“who gave them permission to just keep GROWING all the time?”)
  • Your hair (“too ginger / not ginger enough / not the right kind of ginger / too curly / bad curly / too mom / too cocker spaniel / too unkempt / mutates when I sleep on it”)

And so on. You fixate on various things and then move on until you come back to them and realize they’re still there.

And in case you’re wondering, you will seek help for this and be screened for body dysmorphia. You will be told you don’t meet the diagnostic criteria, which will floor you, because if this level of body-criticism isn’t clinically significant, does that mean there are countless other women walking around thinking the same things about their perfectly imperfect bodies?

Look. It’s okay to care about your appearance and about looking/feeling pretty and dolling yourself up and exercising and all that stuff.

But don’t believe for a second that how you look is the most interesting thing about you.

#4 You are worthy of self-care

Many of us have a brain bully who whispers things like:

  • “The real you does not take care of herself.”
  • “You’re just faking it right now, going through a phase where you’re trying on self-care for size, but it won’t last because you never stick with anything.”
  • “You don’t really deserve this.”

The advice is simple here and comes from a future friend: “Fuck you, brain bully.”

It’s okay to take care of yourself. Act like you love yourself and slowly it’ll start to rub off on you. (It’s not that easy but it’s a start.)

#5 You deserve to heal

Eventually, when you burn out and hit your emotional rock bottom, you will see a psychiatrist and she will give you the permission you didn’t know you needed to start taking care of your mental health.

You’ll find out that over the past 20 years, you’ve developed severe social anxiety as well as perfectionism, generalized anxiety, and, eventually, depression.

And you will be RELIEVED to hear this… because you always thought you just “sucked at being a human.”

You will finally understand that this is more than just “sadness” or “shyness” or “being kind of hard on yourself.”

If you had been trying to walk around with a broken leg, you would have noticed it, addressed it, and let it heal.

Take your mental health as seriously as your physical health. Treat your mental and emotional wounds like a broken bone. Because broken bones can heal.

#6 You. Are. Good. Enough.

You have been seeing yourself through a cloudy, cracked, warped filter.

It’s the FILTER that needs to change. Not who YOU are inside.

Take a step back sometimes. Get out of your own head and take an honest look at other people’s imperfections.

Think about the people you care about and love. Do you see their imperfections and love them anyway? Of course you do, because you see the whole person. Start doing that with yourself. Start seeing your whole good messy self. (Yes, even when you have cocker-spaniel hair days.)

Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. Forever.

Life is not a fairy tale with a happily ever after. Not every day will go in the win column.

I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not writing to you from a place of “perfection.”

But that is exactly the point.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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