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What to Do When You're New by Keith Rollag

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THREE

NATURE AND NURTUREThe Science of Newcomer Anxiety

In this chapter we will explore why new situations often make us nervous and uncomfortable. In particular, we’ll examine:

• How humans evolved to be anxious around strangers

• How children learn to fear and avoid unfamiliar people

• Why these anxieties are often counterproductive in today’s world, where interacting with strangers is commonplace and rarely dangerous

Ultimately, my goal in this chapter is to convince you that being a little anxious in new situations is normal and helpful (in future chapters we’ll figure out what to do about excessive anxiety.)

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE: OUR EXPERIENCE VERSUS OUR FEAR OF THE NEW

We spend our entire lives being new. Every time we change jobs, move ...

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