27 → Hamilton, Ontario, Canada → Musician, Photographer & Poet → Social Anxiety → CBT, Mindfulness, Yoga.
R: Hi Jonathan, tell us a little bit about yourself… So, who are you?
J: That’s actually a very good but difficult question. My whole life I’ve felt out of place due to my disabilities. Kind of a low self-esteem. Always trying to fit in with others. Right now I’ve been coming to terms with who I really am which is an aspiring musician, photographer, poet. Still don’t know exactly who I am, but the revelation of knowing this helps me work towards my future. A wise friend told me once that dreams do come true. Though they explained that of course you have to work towards those dreams setting goals and aspirations.
R: Where do you live?
J: I live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada .
R: How old are you?
J: I am 27.
R: What do you do?
J: Graphic Design, but am not sure on the future of this. It’s not an actual job yet I’ve been volunteering.
R: How long have you been doing it?
J: March 2015-present
R: Do you enjoy it?
J: Sometimes. I’m still on a soul searching adventure.
R: What did you do before?
J: I went to school.
R: What did you study?
J: I graduated from Mohawk College with a certificate in Pre Media and Entertainment and a degree in Graphic Design Production Digital Media
R: What does home life look like – pets / kids?
J: I still live at home with my parents and brother. We have two dogs and two cats.
R: Do you remember when your Social Anxiety began?
J: When I was in Grade 6 had to be its peak time due to bullying, and bad codependent friendships.
“This all was due to doing CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). It worked wonders and I’m eternally grateful for those whom I’ve worked with and met in the process.”
R: Has it got worse over time? or better?
J: It’s gotten a lot better than it used to be. I’m fully committed to finding a job now, I can hold conversations with anyone without it being awkward especially the opposite sex, I get out to volunteer, the yoga studio that I go to is a warm and inviting place and they welcome me as family for who I am which has helped a lot, I’ve made a lot of friends. This all was due to doing CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). It worked wonders and I’m eternally grateful for those whom I’ve worked with and met in the process. I continue to go to CBT once a month I also took a mindfulness group a while back that helped so much. I continue to practice mindfulness. Now I’m going to look into this new group for self esteem called self compassion. I also have a 5k race to do on this Saturday and am planning to keep up running.
R: How did social anxiety affect you as a child?
J: Social anxiety affected me deeply because I wasn’t able to establish friendships with people who boosted my self esteem, instead they usually tore it down. I was bullied and ostracised by my peers a lot, but hold no resentments.
R: How would you describe Social Anxiety in your own words?
J: One of those many things within our character that I believe we all suffer from. It’s just worse for others.
“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. That’s exactly what I did.”
R: How does Social Anxiety interfere with a normal day?
J: It used to be so bad that I’d socially isolate myself from society. Playing video games, eating junk, no job, no volunteer work, no contacting friends. I’d occasionally go out but would be so paranoid about people judging me. I’ve never had a girlfriend, never had a first kiss or anything due to this hinderance, it stopped me from getting into meaningful friendships, one little judgement would make me fall apart. But there’s a favourite quote of mine from Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins: Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. That’s exactly what I did.
R: Do friends or colleagues notice you’re anxious?
J: Sometimes, they usually call it calm, or friendly or something nice.
R: Does it affect your relationship with them?
J: Usually only with girls… that I’m attracted to. That seems to be the big trigger. Or just really good looking girls. But who doesn’t? Guys it’s usually different if they’re warm and inviting then I’m perfectly fine. If not. It could take awhile for trust to build.
R: Have you found any positive aspects of social anxiety?
J: You become very cautious and are very aware of your senses of fight or flight. If you don’t like where you are you’ll take off while your extroverted friend may stay.
“Everything I’ve experienced, everyone I’ve met, everything I’ve seen has all led up to this point and made me who I am. I would never change it.”
R: Do you think your life would be different without social anxiety?
J: I believe yes it would, but maybe not in a good way. I seem to be more aware of myself and my surroundings. If it were different I could be cocky, stupid, and unaware of my behaviours.
R: If you had the option to lose your social anxiety would you?
J: No not at all! Everything I’ve experienced, everyone I’ve met, everything I’ve seen has all led up to this point and made me who I am. I would never change it.
R: What do you do outside of work work?
J: I’m an aspiring musician. I play guitar, dabble in keyboard, amateur singer. I like to write poetry and hope to keep it up. I am a hobby photographer, but with professional experience and school experience.
R: How did you get started?
J: Music: I started playing guitar when I was 14. I received an electric guitar and tube amp for Christmas and started lessons. Just recently I picked up the keyboard because I have two friends who play piano and sing and they both inspired me to keep on going towards what I love no matter what anyone says.
Photography: I started in 2008. Picked up my dad’s old camera and shot pics. Even used Photoshop to edit. Then I continued it in school classes because I had 4 Photography classes over the years. Just recently (last year finally got my first camera) and have been teaming up with an old friend to shoot timelapse videos. He’s basically showing me the ropes.
Poetry & lyrics: it started with writing lyrics back at the end of 2014. To this day I’m always writing notes and am finally coming up some work that isn’t letting me down. I hope to record someday. Or publish a book.
“Sometimes I’m afraid to post my poems on the internet because of judgement.”
R: How does social anxiety interfere with your working process?
J: Well I don’t have a job at the moment so that’s the number one way it stops me. I still have yet to play live I’m trying to work up the courage to play an open mic night with my buddy. Sometimes I’m afraid to post my poems on the internet because of judgement. I still have fears of photographing people if it’s just me. If it’s someone else shooting as well I can do it because they do the talking.
R: How do you manage to stay on top of it?
J: Well for poetry and lyrics I carry my phone and a notebook, so anytime will do. Photography I’m a little more slack because of the anxiety of going to places and people watching you. Music I do anytime I’m home or I go to my friends place and jam.
R: Where can we see it?
J: My Graphic Design portfolio is here. My Photography is on my Flickr account: Which you just search on Flickr “Jonathan Goddard” Anything else I’m not ready for the public to see.
R: Have you received any great feedback or response?
J: Yes I’ve received a lot of great feedback from friends, family, people I don’t know around the net.
R: Have you been officially diagnosed by a health professional?
R: What made you see a doctor?
J: I didn’t have a choice I was a child when I started seeing one.
R: Did they prescribe medication?
R: Do you / Did you take medication?
“I believe having a disease is something you’ll struggle with your whole life which is why CBT can teach you ways of coping or overcoming certain behaviours.”
R: Have you seen a therapist?
J: Yes still do.
R: How do you best manage social anxiety? – medication, meditation, yoga, alternative medicines or ?
J: Good question. Mindfulness, yoga, medication, CBT methods (exposures).
R: Did any treatments work?
J: CBT, mindfulness, yoga
R: Do you feel as if you’re in control now?
J: No. I believe having a disease is something you’ll struggle with your whole life which is why CBT can teach you ways of coping or overcoming certain behaviours.
R: If you could go back and give your younger self some advice about social anxiety, what would you say? What would you do differently?
J: That’s funny! I was thinking that question might come up. I’d probably say “that girl that you danced with because you showed her how much of a jerk the guy she was with was… when she approaches you the next day… talk to her, don’t walk away you jerk!” Who knows may have had more backbone if I built up a relationship. May have been able to build up my self esteem, but hey, it’s in the past.
R: Do you tell friends, family and colleagues that you have social anxiety?
J: Yes. I’m practically an open book. That’s why I’m here.
R: Do you know others with Social Anxiety?
J: Almost all my friends. Almost everyone I’ve known in CBT. Its a pretty big percentage.
R: How do you educate yourself on management and resources? Do you read specific blogs, magazines or news articles?
J: Yes. I read whatever pops up on the Facebook newsfeed. Though I am cautious because I have issues with self diagnosing due to illness anxiety disorder.
R: Have you read any great books about social anxiety?
J: Unfortunately I’m just getting back into reading. Any suggestions would be great. I’m reading mind over mood right now.. I guess that would be great for social anxiety as well.
R: Or seen any movies?
J: I heard eternal sunshine of the spotless mind is good. Oh a great one is The King’s Speech I love A Beautiful Mind it’s my favourite for mental illness, but it’s schizophrenia. Though based on a true story. Unfortunately John Nash died last year.
R: Do you follow any Youtubers or other activists?
J: No. I don’t really keep up with YouTube.
R: Can you recommend any therapists / doctors / specialists / coaches / mentors / clinics / foundations?
J: I’d recommend St. Joseph’s Hospital the West 5th building in Hamilton Ontario. It’s specific towards Mental health and is continuously growing to help the mentally ill. Its a wonderful facility! All the specialists there are great at what they do.
R: What’s on your horizon for 2016?
J: Play an open mic night. Take a trip somewhere for Photography. Finish my 5k race on Saturday. Meet new people. Try another race Find a job
R: What next for your Social Anxiety?
J: Continuing exposure and to eventually be able to move out and have my own place. No need for safety behaviours. Just to break free!
J: Thank you so much for this! Im honoured! Cheers.
R: Thanks Jonathan!
Rodger Hoefel in conversation with Jonathan Goddard
Cover Photo supplied by Jonathan Goddard
Other images from Jonathan’s Flickr