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Arlin Cuncic

Jobs for People with Social Anxiety Disorder

By July 30, 2008

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Often suggestions are made that people who have social anxiety should work at particular kinds of jobs - for example, those that involve working with numbers, animals or objects instead of people. Some such jobs are:

  • software engineer
  • accountant
  • editor
  • writer
  • landscaper
  • animal care
  • graphic design

On the other hand, do you think it would it be better for someone with SAD to take a job that challenges their phobia - such as a salesperson? Best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki has written about taking a job as a salesperson at Xerox to help overcome his fear of rejection.

I think both kinds of jobs can have their place. The more important question is whether anxiety is preventing you from doing something that you would really like to do.

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July 30, 2008 at 2:13 pm
(1) kalinda says:

With your point on challenging the phobia, I think it really depends on where someone is in his or her journey with SAD and what challenges that person is looking for. I started my working life in a government clerical job and was promoted to a position where I had to explain certain kinds of legislation and government procedures to clients; I was nervous at first, but I found that I actually liked doing that. I liked helping people to learn. So later that year, I went back to university and got an education degree. I very much enjoy teaching and feel so fortunate that teaching doesn’t trigger my SAD; I think it’s because I’m speaking about things I know about and not putting myself out there socially. It’s also helped me build my confidence in presenting myself to others. Now the trick is to take how I feel about myself teaching, the confidence, and put that into social situations. I still haven’t managed to do it yet. I encourage people with SAD who are ready to do so to put themselves out there and not let the anxiety always prevent them from doing things they’d like to do. But I know from my own life that’s much easier said than done.

August 5, 2008 at 10:19 am
(2) Nikki says:

This is an area I am very much struggling with right now. In fact, I came to this blog expecting to do a search on this very topic and there was this post right at the top! I agree that challenging your weaknesses is a good thing, however, I personally do not feel that my job is the place I want to do it. I feel like your career should emphasis your strengths, not your weaknesses. I feel incompetent on a regular basis in social situations, I don’t feel the need to further the torture on a daily basis. However, finding a career that does not focus on being social on some form or another is difficult. The blanket requirement for just about every job posting out there is “must be able to communicate well”. Well, when I get nervous, I don’t communicate well. This has become an issue for me recently because my job requirements have changed. I was employed originally to serve as sort of a help desk, helping people one on one with understanding computer applications. I’m ok with that because it’s usually one person on a topic I’m familiar with. However, I am now required to give 4 large classroom style trainings every other month. I do it because that’s what required of me, but I’m an emotional mess a week before the trainings. It’s not getting better and I don’t know what to do.

March 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm
(3) Chris says:

kalinda’s comment sparked recognition in my brain. I’ve experienced the same thing. I ended up in IT, and frequently have to speak to committees within my organization about technology issues within our company and I have very little trouble with it. If I were to walk into a bar or restaurant and approach a table full of the same exact people sitting at the table in those meetings, I would feel nervous and panic, especially if asked a question and had to answer in front of the entire group. A couple of years ago I was taking a night class and had to give a presentation about technology and my job in front of a classroom full of others. Public speaking terrified me in junior high and high school. But since I was talking about something I knew really well and was confident about, I sailed through it without any problems. I think confidence is the key.

October 24, 2010 at 11:13 pm
(4) Brandon says:

Doesn’t sound like you have SA at all.

December 28, 2010 at 8:35 pm
(5) Kendra says:

Yeah, I wish I had the level the rest of you have. I can barely leave my home.

If I’m out with friends that I’m comfortable with, I’m usually okay. (If I don’t have to talk to new people) And that doesn’t happen anymore because I had to move back in with my parents and I have no friends here. I am in the house all the time.

I’ve been searching for Work at Home work for YEARS. There is nothing legit unless you already have a job somewhere and they let you work from home. Not a possibility for me.

I don’t even know how you would begin to become an editor. It seems you will always have to deal with people, no matter what. And I just can’t do it.

January 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm
(6) Ben says:

I’m struggling with the same issue. I’m also trained as a sound engineer and am general best doing creative/artistic work, but its becoming damned near impossible to make money doing the things I’m actually skilled at. Rather, I don’t have the businesss skills to be properly self employed. And the moment i start considering a “normal” job, I break down and have an attack. Get very worked up. I’ve worked plenty of these jobs in the past, but a few years ago I snapped and walked out on one. Since then the consideration of ever working one of these jobs again fills me with absolute dread.

February 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm
(7) Jennifer H. says:

I feel exactly the same way. I studied (by correspondence) to become a Montessori preschool teacher. But when it came time to actually go into a classroom, I couldn’t handle it. I mean, I know all the particulars of the job, but I was full of anxiety and nervousness – and I can only force myself for so long. After starting and quitting 3 jobs in 4 months, I am now at home doing nothing. The thoughts of even leaving the house to go anywhere is a struggle for me… Husband is becoming very frustrated by our financial situation, but I don’t know what to do. I am also very artistic, and I paint acrylic portraits, etc… but try and make a living doing that. It’s impossible.

August 3, 2011 at 11:26 am
(8) Erin says:

I work in the local coffee shop here in my town, and it’s only been the first shift. At the very idea of going back in there to work another shift I feel an SA attack come on and you can then find me crying in a corner! Because it was the night shift that I was being trained in, it wasn’t that busy and the people I served were very nice. But when I came home I went and threw up and didn’t stop shaking until an hour after I went to bed.

Confidence isn’t something I have, it’s not easy to obtain and I need money to be able to go to college. This little post didn’t help me at all I’m afraid, because I was looking for help and tips on how to be able to function normally at my job and to function in life.

September 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm
(9) Taylor says:

Currently i work at a condo, part time housekeeper part time front desk. I find that my SA is triggered when im asked to explain something. Even if I know what it is im explaining, the thought of having to say more than a few sentences makes me want to throw up. Im tired of being afraid of talking.. There are NO jobs that dont require you to speak, at least not reasonable ones.. This makes me feel very hopeless about my future. This is my first job, im 19, I dont know what will become of my life & I just wish I could be normal

June 14, 2012 at 10:31 am
(10) Susan J. says:

Working as a Dental Assistant and putting up with all the verbal, emotional and mental abuse of the dentists – I am very afraid to take on any permanent job and can only work as a temporary. The best jobs I had were working in a Call Center (the people you work with are on the phone and can’t see you) and also as a Security Job working the night shift- you don’t see any people at all. Hope this helps.

July 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm
(11) Princess says:

I am struggling right now, mentally and financially. I’m afraid to talk to people I’m ok if they are not focusing their eyes on me. The minute we make eye contact I panic. I had my break down 4 yrs ago and walked off a job. Everytime I decide I need to go back to school or work the anxiety starts to make me feel so tired and weak. I’m currently taking 40mg of prozac and propanonol when needed. But still I just can’t seem to function right anymore. I try to fight these fears that arise but it feels like the more I try to fight it the stronger it gets. I’m 43 years old.

August 7, 2012 at 9:07 am
(12) dave says:

I understand where you are coming from you have just described me Thought i was the only one with this problem, do you know where we can ge t help

August 16, 2012 at 11:10 am
(13) Kaylie says:

I am struggling with the work problem, and have been for the last four years since graduating college. I thought I was just crazy, some kind of worthless leech. I can’t make anyone understand that this is not just normal jitters I experience . Normal jitters do m\not make death preferable to facing these problems. I don’t want to die, but death oddly seems less scarey to me than finding a job. I really want to work, but the very idea of even looking for a job and all of the awful things that could go wrong, the fear of rejection, the fear of being judged terrifies me to the point that I’m always telling my family that I wish I could just go dig a hole on a secluded mountain somewhere and not have to deal with people. Sometimes I don’t even want to be around family because I imagine that they must think I am a total loser. I am I guess, but I don’t want to be. And believe it or not, I would really like a job were I can help people. I love helping people. I just can’t get over the whole job search terror. I can’t even write a resume without bursting into tears at how pitiful it looks. I have no real job skills, as much as I loved college and worked hard at it my degree is practically worthless. I have no experience, no real job skills. The last interview I managed was bad, so bad. I tried to stay positive and keep eye contact and all that jazz, but it was a bust. And what was it for? A minimum wage retail job filling shelves. Yeah, that was a real boost to my ego. /sigh

August 21, 2012 at 4:18 am
(14) Alisha says:

I have had this extreme anxiety disorder for nearly 2 yrs now and it’s driving me mad!!!!!!!!! If I’m not crying I’m snapping. I’m sick of it and so frustrated with myself and everyone around me. I am virtually agoraphobic, the only place I go is shopping with my partner once a month and that kills me. Will I ever be normal again? I’m dying for a job but the thought of doing one absolutely petrifies me and I start to bring on a panic attack AGAIN!!!!! HELP!

October 2, 2012 at 1:21 am
(15) Jessica says:

I was searching for jobs that maybe just maybe I could handle that didn’t involve being around people too much. The above mentioned jobs I’ve seen on several different sites as suggestions. While thats good and all I wouldn’t even know where to begin finding jobs like that in my area. Some of them even involve having to go to school before you can even do it.

I’ve suffered from Social Anxiety and Depression since I was 7, I’ve seen countless doctors, counsleors. the works. I still do and now I’m almost 22. I don’t live a “normal” life like most people I know. I dropped out of high school from fear of just being there. I spent more time in Saturday school than in my regular classes. My grades were super I was just never there enough. Finally it got to the point where I couldn’t wake up in the morning without hurling before school, and thats if I even went. I hardly ever left the house, unless it was with someone I felt comfortable with or if I felt like i was in control of the situation. Like I always have to have an escape plan.

Im still at home, and jobless. I’ve tried working, my last job didn’t last a month, and all I had to do was clean bathrooms and offices for people who weren’t even really there when I did it. For most people it would be an ideal job. For me the second they started changing things, telling me to do things different and adding things that weren’t part of the job I signed up for I lost it. I was scared to take the job in the first place. I ended up having a complete and total mental meltdown. I was nervous to go back and even get my last check.

I don’t want to be the person who is still living with her mother and jobless. I just want to find something I can do and that can help me contribute to the people around me. So I don’t feel like a total freak and a failure all the time.

Sorry if that ^^^ was like a novel but I felt like I needed to say it, like it needed to be heard/read.

January 7, 2013 at 11:22 am
(16) Krystal says:

Reading these comments, for the first time, I actually feel like I’m not alone. I have sever Social Phobia, Emetophobia (fear of vomit, mine or anyone else’s), and a few other specific Phobias. But I guess it could just be called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Mine hit me at about March 2011, tried talking to a Counselor, got a huge bill which just added to my anxiety. Had one job that year that lasted from January to March, but when I started having a panic attack at work, my boss didn’t take it well and he snarled at me, and I….pretended that a medication I’d taken had made me sleep through my alarm and my shift. Lost my job, my self respect, and haven’t left my comfort zone (the trailer park where I live with my mom) for over 2 years. I’m turning 21 this year and am a total and complete mess! I’m trying a few different techniques to help, which is why I’m writing this. Exposure therapy, changing how I react to situations, building my self esteem and self confidence, and taking all those negative thoughts that are keeping me stuck in limbo and changing them. I’m writing down positive, happy, uplifting statements, recording them in my own voice, and listening to them every single day, over and over and over. They say if you hear something enough times, it becomes true. Maybe that’ll work for me.
But to all the people who commented, you are not alone, you can get help, you just gotta start looking. I did, spent 2 years looking. Just decided on the techniques I’m going to be using, and….I don’t know if they’ll work or not, but I’m so tired of being this way that I’m almost willing to try anything. Maybe you guys can look at the techniques I’m trying and give them a try yourself. Maybe we can find a way to cure ourselves. Good Luck to all of you.

January 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm
(17) c says:

These comments are all great but hardly leading to any answers.

January 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm
(18) mary says:

I just recently found out I have Specific Social Anxiety Disorder. I walked out on my job, because they going to train me to do Customer Service, for another job at a medical call center. I thought I could handle people over the the phone better than in person. Turns out I can’t handle either. I had a panic attack the morning I left my old job to having it twice as bad starting my new job. I am a mess. I have never felt like this, but I have not had to deal with any customers over the phone or in person in 15 years. I knew I was shy. I didn’t know how bad I had become. Now I am 48 and have no job prospects. Thinking maybe only one way out of this nightmare. I am married, but have no children. Makes it a little easier to think of leaving.

June 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm
(19) Kim says:

Unfortunately to get answers you have to do the one thing you find most difficult and that is reach out to people. Start by looking on line for a local support group. That is where you will find you answers.

June 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm
(20) Mel says:

Guys, I feel for you!! Have you ever read the books by Dr Clare Weeks!! After I read them I was ‘Cured’!!

August 29, 2013 at 3:48 am
(21) Allan says:

Hi guys I feel for all of you I recently became afraid of blushing which is a social phobia, I was working at a restaurant as a waiter and going to school I quit school and I just quit my job. This phobia that i just started to experience about 3 months ago completely took over my life i don’t know what to do I don’t talk to my friends anymore and I’m avoiding my family as well. I’m desperate and don’t know what to do I don’t even want to leave my house anymore, is so hard to think that just 3 months ago i was really happy and literally over night my life has changed dramatically, I need a job really bad but don’t know what to do!!!

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