Finding a job that you enjoy and that you feel comfortable doing can be challenging if you live with social anxiety disorder (SAD).
Often your choice of job will be dictated by how far along you are in terms of diagnosis and treatment. People who have successfully managed to overcome and learn to cope with symptoms of social anxiety are better equipped for positions that are socially demanding.
At the same time, people with SAD are often suited to particular types of jobs, regardless of how well they have learned to cope with social anxiety. Jobs that involve flexibility and control over the level of social interaction can make it easier to cope with anxiety if it returns. This doesn’t mean that you should choose jobs that don’t involve social interaction; rather, having a flexible role with varying levels of interaction tends to work best.
Below is a list of jobs that might be rewarding for people with social anxiety disorder.
Writing is a dream job for many. Unfortunately, it can be a hard profession to enter and may take a while before you start earning a living wage. However, once you become established, it is possible to earn a very comfortable living as a freelance writer.
Whether you want to write novels, advice columns, or technical manuals, get your start with a job that allows you to gain experience such as working as a technical writer or copywriter. As you build your confidence, you can move to taking on freelance work and possibly even become a published author.
Socially anxious writers may enjoy working alone. However, you should also try to challenge yourself by networking with other writers through professional associations and conferences. This will give you a chance to polish your social skills and also continue to expose yourself to those situations that cause you anxiety. If you find you are doing well, you might even volunteer to lead a presentation or help out on an advisory board.
An artist is another job that might be appealing if you live with social anxiety. However, earning a living as an artist can be a difficult pursuit. As an artist, you may need to take on a day job to support yourself while you do art on the side.
If you have a passion for this type of work, think about related jobs that might give you the same creative outlet and ability to work alone some of the time. Graphic design might be an option that gives you the opportunity to support yourself as an artist.
As a socially anxious artist, you may enjoy time spent alone on your work. However, you should also consider challenging yourself by attending or presenting at art exhibits. Communicating with clients and networking with other artists is a key part of continuously challenging your anxiety in the field of art.
Stay-at-home parent also made the top 10 list of worst jobs for people with SAD. This is not an accident. Although there can be many social demands on you as a parent, there is also a lot of flexibility, which can be helpful if you live with severe social anxiety.
As a parent, you can control your own schedule and balance time spent in group social activities with quieter time spent alone with just your children. However, don’t allow yourself to become isolated or deny your children opportunities because of your social fears. Accept invitations for play dates with other parents and volunteer for a committee at your child’s school to keep connected.
However, take care if you have attention deficit disorder (ADD) in addition to SAD (these conditions sometimes go together). Running a household requires good organizational skills—something that might not challenge your social anxiety but will be taxing for those who also have attention issues.
A dog trainer is one example of a job working with animals that might be appealing to if you live with social anxiety disorder. Other possibilities include:
- veterinary technician
- kennel operator
- rescue worker
If you enjoy working with animals these can be rewarding positions that require some social interaction but also give you space to work quietly and independently.
Keep challenging your social anxiety in these positions by interacting with clients and other animal care professionals.
Accountants manage bookkeeping and financial details for businesses and individuals. If you excel at math and enjoy working with numbers, being an accountant can give you the opportunity to work independently.
Whether you work for a company or as a private accountant, there will be some level of interaction required with others. Focus on your abilities and be confident in your work, and your comfort level with this aspect of the job will increase.
Becoming an accountant can be a good way to challenge some of your social fears in a gradual way. Meetings with clients can be opportunities to work on your social skills, and attendance at networking events will help you to challenge your social fears.
Landscapers can work for landscaping companies, golf courses, or as private entrepreneurs. Landscaping can give you the freedom to spend your day alone and outdoors. These jobs are particularly good if you are not happy working in an office environment.
If you decide to run your own landscaping company, however, you will need to become adept at communicating with customers. In this way, landscaping can afford you with the opportunity to challenge your fears while having the security of “downtime” on the job.
Challenge your social fears in these positions by interacting with customers, other landscape professionals, and possibly even your own employees. You can also attend trade shows to practice your social skills.
As an entrepreneur or business owner you will work for yourself, set your own schedule, and be responsible for your own success. The advantage of being an entrepreneur as a person with SAD is that you have complete control over what you do. It’s also easy to see how many other professions on this list can be combined with entrepreneurship.
Although you will interact with customers or deal with suppliers as a business owner, you will not have a supervisor watching over you or coworkers to work alongside. As an entrepreneur, you can also hire other people to do jobs that you don’t enjoy.
Just be sure that you don’t hire out all of your social obligations. Challenge yourself to face social and performance situations that you find anxiety-provoking by starting small and moving to more difficult tasks.
While being a police officer is on the list of the 10 worst jobs for people with social anxiety disorder, being a firefighter makes the 10 best.
Although as a firefighter you will have interaction with the public and work alongside coworkers, you will also work with objects and have set expectations for your job.
Many firefighters also work schedules that give them several days off in a row, which can be a chance to recuperate from the demands of work if you live with social anxiety.
Challenge your social anxiety in this position by rising through the ranks to jobs that require more social interaction. Volunteer for career day at your child’s school to challenge your public speaking fears.
To work as a computer programmer, you must be detail-oriented, enjoy solving problems and be able to focus for long periods of time.
While there will be some degree of social interaction required of you as a programmer, employees in these positions are generally valued for their analytical skills rather than their communication skills.
If you like computers and don’t mind sitting for long periods of time, this can be a good job that allows you to work independently. Be sure to challenge your social anxiety by talking with coworkers and taking on projects that require increasingly more interaction.
Counselor or therapist might not be the first job you think of for those with social anxiety. However, when in a position to help others overcome SAD, this can be an ideal job.
You understand what your clients are experiencing, you are a good listener, and you likely have a communication style that others with social anxiety will not find threatening.
If you have received treatment and overcome your social anxiety, you are in a perfect position to help others do the same. This position will give you unique insight into your own struggles at the same time.