Cole Sprouse’s intense method for getting over social anxiety might not work for everyone, but it makes total sense

Cole Sprouse opened up in a new interview about the social anxiety he learned to embrace by walking directly into his discomfort zone. Sprouse plays Jughead on Riverdale, a character who tends to distance himself from others to deal with his social anxiety, and Sprouse said he understands Jughead’s plight because he’s dealt with the same issues.

“I had some pretty bad social anxiety when I was little just because I was raised in celebrity culture, and feeling watched all the time, and at least for me — and I can only really speak from personal experiences — I didn’t really get over it until I sort of put my hand into the fire and said, ‘OK, this is something I’ve got to live with. Let’s deal with it,’” Sprouse told Us Weekly.

Sprouse became a Disney star when he was only eight but took a break from acting at 18 to attend NYU. Moving to one of the loudest and most crowded cities in the world may seem counter-intuitive for someone battling social anxiety and fame, but we totally understand how Sprouse thought New York could help him “deal” with his anxiety. Moving to NYC was his “hand into the fire” moment.

“I went to New York, I lived in the city, I was in one of the most populated places on Earth and just kind of embraced who I was, how people viewed me and how I navigate other people," Sprouse elaborated. "I think at some point I asked myself, ‘Do I ignore the pink elephant, or do I address that it’s there and just continue to live my life?’"

Some people actually find that a busy city helps ease their anxiety, as the loudness of city life almost acts as a white noise.

“New York is exciting—dazzling, even!” David Rosmarin, founder and director of New York’s Center for Anxiety, told TimeOut. “There’s plenty of action around the clock. I wouldn’t be surprised if some anxious people — individuals who feel a need to constantly distract from the din of self-criticism and emotional pain — are drawn to it.”

Exposure therapy like moving to a strange city and forcing yourself into social interactions might be too intense for some, and that’s fine too. It’s what worked for Sprouse, and we’re happy to hear about his journey.