Fear of crowds is very common for a lot of people, whether they are single, married, male, female, high flyers, students, teachers, old or young.
I know how it feels to be alone in a crowd. I often feel totally overwhelmed in a large crowd of people, especially if I don't know anyone in that crowd. It can feel like I am on the periphery and not allowed into the inner circle, and that, of course, makes the fear even worse. I wonder if the fear is actually of the crowds, or is it a fear of feeling lost or being unnoticed amongst a large number of people?
I know when I am in a large crowd of people entirely 'on my own' I feel nervous; I have an irrational fear that nobody will even notice that I am there. I look at the little groups of people who do know each other within that large crowd enjoying themselves and the company of each other and that somehow increases my nervousness and the fear. Of course they may feel just like I do but when I feel that fear, it certainly looks like they're having a great time and I'm not. When I am in a large crowd of people and I have my own 'group of people' with me I feel safe and secure and know that I am noticed and therefore I don't have those same feelings as when I am alone in a crowd.
Did you grow up in a house where children were seen and not heard? I know I did. That might be the root of these feelings of nervousness and insecurity as they are for me. I can ultimately relate feeling like this to my childhood when I was constantly told that I should be seen and not heard. So I would sit in the corner with my toys and only speak when I was spoken to.
Having worked hard on discovering my authentic self, discovering, acknowledging and accepting those unexpressed feelings and emotions of when I was told to be seen and not heard, I now think and act differently. I know there is a solution to this fear of crowds. Based on what I know to be true about fear.
I know that FEAR is:
I have found the solution that works for me and might work for you too:
• Don't worry about pleasing anyone else. Just be you.
• Here's what I do - I take three deep breaths and take the plunge.
• I walk amongst the strangers in the crowd and I expect to be noticed. I've decided not to expect to be or feel lost.
• I make eye contact with people and smile at them.
• I say hello to people I have never met before and strike up conversations. They aren't always long conversations, just long enough to introduce myself and be friendly and to listen to the other people.
Sometimes they are much longer, it depends on the person of course. Once the conversations start to happen, other people start to talk to me and to each other and before long I am part of the 'crowd' and not isolated on the periphery.
Even if being you just says it's ok to not talk to anyone - which is a good friend of mine's solution for her fear of crowds. She's decided to not push herself and just enjoys watching people. Funny thing is, she reports people come and talk to her.
I know that I am not alone in feeling alone. There are other people who are in the same position as me and I make a special effort to speak to them as well and include them in the conversations. The energy and dynamics of the crowd change visibly and it becomes much more enjoyable.
The most important thing is to find a way to feel comfortable being you whether you decide overcoming the fear by talking to people is your way, or overcoming the fear by giving yourself a break and just allowing others to talk to you is your way. Bottom line, stop pressuring yourself to be like everyone else and just be you.