Previously local to Athens, GA, our social anxiety support group is now online, with a focus on avoidant personality disorder! Tap here to join our Discord server for up-to-date info, text chat channels for meeting others + mutual support, & voice call meetings!

A support group for socially anxious people sounds a bit paradoxical, doesn't it? The last thing we want is to be among a group of people, especially strangers. The thought of sharing our deepest fears about ourselves is nauseating.

I've had those fears for so long that it seemed they must be true—that I was dull, inferior, useless, and that everyone knew it. But really, nobody had the chance to get to know me at all. I'm ready for that to change. This group is the start of that change—for me, and maybe for you!

Being part of a group like this is a bit daunting, and we'll talk about that. But first, let's talk about why I think this is a uniquely wonderful way for us to face our fears together:


My name is Jake Ware. I started this group because I really want to be able to talk to people, and, well, it's hard for some of us, isn't it? But how much easier would it be to try if I knew the others I were talking to were as anxious as myself?

So the idea began to form: create a peer support group! No mental health professional; just other people who have lived experience with social anxiety, like you and I. That's key to giving us the comfort we need to brave something so challenging for us.

But it's not the entire answer. How can we start a support group that works for people who aren't too comfortable with groups in general? I've thought hard about what we should do differently to create a relaxed, beneficial, and enjoyable experience for ourselves!

  • Too many people, and everyone is too anxious to talk. No one wants to be looked at by that many eyes, or to risk accidentally interrupting the start of someone else’s sentence.
  • Too few people, and it feels way too intimate. Each person has to talk more than they are comfortable with, and it’s more likely that someone feels left out, like they don’t vibe with the group well enough.
  • Solution: between 6 and 8 people in the group. Besides yourself, there will be between 5 and 7 people. At this size, we can expect that there will be people who deeply relate to the experiences we decide to share, as well as people who have experienced things differently. I think it’s a middle-ground which should help us be as comfortable as possible to share openly.
    • Once we start meeting, we can widen this range if we see fit—it's just a starting point.
  • Meetings need to be in the right place, at the right time, so they're quiet, comfortable, and accessible.
  • It should be simple to get to meetings, easy to remember when they are, and assured that the duration and frequency match the pace we need to be comfortable with each other.
  • Solution: Oconee County Library, on every other Friday, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
    • The current day and time were chosen to best accommodate our members' schedules. If you are interested in joining, but not sure this time works, please reach out!
    • As someone who hates driving, I can assure you that not only is the area pretty low-traffic, but the library also has a very forgiving entrance and parking lot. Reserved spots & entrance ramps ensure accessibility for those with disabilities.
    • We'll have plenty of time between meetings to think of things we'd like to talk about, and the right amount of time during them to do so. Bi-monthly meetings let us build a better rapport than monthly ones might, without feeling redundant like weekly ones might.
  • Our first meeting is going to be quite stressful for all of us; so will introducing ourselves to each other for the first time. Let’s not combine the two!
  • Solution: online introductions. On the website, I’ve created an area for group members to introduce themselves! You may choose to do so with any combination of writing, photos, and video. We’ll skip the nerve-wracking process of being singled out in front of everyone. Instead, we can learn about each other before we meet in-person, allowing us to introduce ourselves just the way we’d like to, and to feel relaxed and focused when learning about everyone else.

Joining a group like this is a big thing—I know you’re nervous (I am!). But you’re not alone in that, and I’ve thought a lot about how all of us can be as comfortable as possible, as fast as possible! And, of course, I’m completely open to changing things as we get started, and figure out as a group what works, and what could work better.


Let’s talk about the actual meetings! They follow a simple structure, with the goal of providing just as much direction as is needed to get a handful of anxious people talking to each other, and then letting the conversation flow naturally.

And, well . . . that’s pretty much it! If you’re talking and listening, you’re doing it right.

So, what do we do if everyone gets quiet? As often as possible, I want to just be a group member, talking and listening like everyone else. My only real job as “the leader” is to break any awkward silences.

For that purpose, I’ll plan conversation starters ahead of each meeting. They’ll really be just like anything else we might talk about—specific facets of anxiety which could be valuable to discuss, for example, or some of my own experiences, which will hopefully reinvite others to reflect and share. And if we’re too busy talking to ever use them, even better!

I hope that together, we’ll create an atmosphere of earnesty and trust, and become a group of friends sharing empathy, concern, and pride for one another.

So ARE YOU IN? :D Let’s talk specifics—when, where, and most importantly, what refreshments will be provided!


I’ll answer a few final logistical questions here, and just below is the group’s signup form. I encourage you to reach out with any thoughts or questions, even if you're not certain you want to join!

  1. Our group is geared towards young adults, 18 and up, struggling with social anxiety. If that sounds like you, we would love to have you! We are aiming to have 6-8 regular members, so what are you waiting for? :)
    1. I strongly encourage anyone who would possibly be interested in participating to reach out, regardless of your age and how many members we have so far. If things go well for our group, I am also very interested in facilitating the creation of additional groups with a similar concept.
  1. We will gather in a meeting room at the Oconee County Library. Libraries are great locations for support groups, as they are quiet, and often allow community groups to reserve rooms for free (as is the case here). It’s technically in Watkinsville, which is a small town adjacent to Athens. The traffic is lighter than within the city, which is particularly ideal for anxious people like us. I’ve included the address, a map, and a picture of my car so you will know you’re in the right place! Parking is right in front of the building, and includes accessible reserved spots for people with disabilities. There is a ramp at the entrance, allowing for wheelchair access.
  2. 1080 Experiment Station Rd
    Watkinsville, GA
    Jake's car: 2005 Toyota 4Runner
    Silver 2005 Toyota 4Runner
  1. Meetings are on Friday afternoons at 4 p.m., until 5:30 p.m., every other week (once every two weeks). I’ll arrive no later than 3:45. Our first meeting will be on August 25th, and I will confirm the date of each meeting afterwards at regular intervals.
  1. Life happens! If you can’t make a meeting or will be late, do not worry about it. If you’re able to, I’d like you to contact me and let me know, so we know you’re alright. You can contact me by email here at any time, for any reason. Once you have joined the group, I will also give you my cellphone number, and you may text me on the same basis. If you prefer to communicate by other means, let me know, and I will gladly accommodate that, assuming I am able to.
  1. Technically, yes, but nothing you wouldn’t expect. Basically, respect other group members and their differences, whether related to identity (race, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.) or experience (for example, things they are anxious about that you aren’t, or vice versa), or anything else.
  2. Also, everything said in the group is confidential. Don’t share the content of our discussions outside the group.
    1. At least initially, no topics will be off-limits (other than the obvious ones like talking about plans to do something illegal). It’s fine to spend time talking about things which are less-closely related to mental health, as long as you’re taking other group members into consideration (if some of the group seems less engaged with the topic, finish your thought and let the subject change).
      1. Difficult subjects, which are potentially emotionally triggering for some members, will likely come up. If you are often affected by one or more of these subjects, you are welcome to let me know ahead of time, and we can discuss possible approaches for handling them before the first meeting.
  1. I’m glad you asked! I love food, and luckily the library allows light refreshments. I find that having something to eat or drink is a nice and natural-feeling relief while I'm anxiously attempting to socialize. I've certainly also had my share of fretful stomachaches, so please don't feel like you have to eat something if you'd rather not. I won’t bring exactly the same thing every time, but the plan is to always have something a bit sweet (think muffins), as well as a savory dip, and crackers & raw veggies to eat with (or without) it, plus plastic plates, napkins, water, and hand sanitizer. Feel free to enjoy before/during/after the meeting (and feel free to take home some leftovers), and let’s be sure to leave the library at least as clean as when we came in.
    1. If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, not to worry—I will notify everyone ahead of each meeting of exactly what I’m bringing, and what it contains. Each item will be kept separate, and will be labeled with its ingredients at the meeting as well. You are always welcome to ask if you’d like clarification.
      1. Nothing I bring will ever contain, or be prepared around, meat (including fish and shellfish), tree nuts, peanuts, or soybeans.
      2. Some things may contain milk, eggs, seeds, and/or wheat. They will be labeled as such, and there will always be options that do not contain any of these ingredients.

And . . . that’s it! I think you should know everything you need to consider if joining our group could have a positive influence on your life.

If you’re interested in joining, or still thinking about it and would like to reach out, please fill out the form below! I’m nervous, too, but I’m also excited to meet you :)

This form is submitted securely and directly to me, and will not be shared with anyone else.