Day 10 of the 500 words a day/30 day experiment @kale&cigarettes
Social anxiety. I get anxiety in social settings sometimes. Yes, me. Seems strange having had any interaction with me you may find me to be friendly, outgoing and at ease striking up conversation with just about anyone. Yes, that’s true and I genuinely like people. And I want them to like me too. It feels reassuring; a satisfactory, temporary stroke to the ego. Having bouts of social anxiety doesn’t mean you’re anti-social. For me, it means that even infrequently nowadays, sometimes I feel pressure leading up to an event or party. I do better in smaller group settings where I can have one on one convos with people in a nice safe corner of the room. In a bigger group I feel like I’m on the spot. I don’t want to tell all my business. I think it’s dull to talk about what we’re doing, where you’re working, the stuff that you’re taught to talk about. I’m not a big lover of small talk.
Behind the scenes, leading up to a social gathering, there’s a lot of other stuff going on. Some of it ain’t pretty, people. On the surface it’s all put together, hair and makeup and a decent upgraded version of stretchy pants. But, there’s a drawn out build up and exponentially big deal made before said event or outing.
Fucking yoga. It’s made me come to all kinds of observations and realizations about myself. I have a Ph.D. in Me and my many quirks, habits, tendencies, reactions, thoughts……….. I’m a fascinating subject with never ending material to examine and experiment with. Sometimes, I step outside of myself and observe what I’m doing and saying. I’ll come to a conclusion only to change it soon after.
The time before an event is a critical time and knowing that helps me prepare. Feeling prepared is helpful. Giving myself plenty of time to get ready helps too.
In the past, there have been many meltdowns that are funny as hell now but at the time these were major crises. Like the time when we were getting ready for my baby shower or maybe it was a family dinner. Doesn’t matter. I was in New York staying with my Mom and we there was a lot of hustle and bustle to get ready for the guests that were coming over. I was slicing cucumbers for a salad and someone came by and commented that my cucumber slices were really thick. I burst into tears. I was wound up so tight that it just all came undone with that one benign comment. I thought that this was the way everyone was and it was always stressful before a party. I didn’t have a name for it. It was never a subject to be spoken about or admit. You just get a little nuts and your reactions are disproportionate to the situation at hand. Everything is a crisis!
I’ve made the anxiety about my hair, my clothes, makeup. I can’t do anything with this stupid hair. It looks like crap. I don’t know what the heck to wear. I feel like I’m rushed. Stop rushing me! I don’t have enough time. Crap, I still need to go to the store to get a gift. I should have gone earlier and now I don’t have enough time. Who’s going? What time does this thing start? We’re going to have to drive all the way over there? I’ve freaked out about my husband getting ready in time. Or annoyed that he says that it takes 5 minutes to get ready. Giving him 10, 30, 45 minute updates only to have him jump in the shower when I’m ready to head out the door. Ugh. I feel tired already. I don’t feel too good. Maybe I should just stay home and rest. It’s too much. Forget it, I’m not going!
There has been some disaster coping mechanisms that I would rely on when the anxiety set in. Like, stuffing my face with chips but keeping eye contact and nodding. Or, drinking too much to “loosen up” then freaking out in my head about looking like a lush. If only I could just sit in a corner and quietly people watch. And stuff my face with chips and guac and not worry about talking with food in my mouth or cilantro stuck in my teeth. I plan on trying the latter tonight.
I found this article in the New York Times interesting. Understanding the Anxious Min by ROBIN MARANTZ HENIG 2009
An anxious temperament might serve a more exalted function too. “Our culture has this illusion that anxiety is toxic,” Kagan said. But without inner-directed people who prefer solitude, where would we get the writers and artists and scientists and computer programmers who make society hum? Kagan likes to point out that T. S. Eliot suffered from anxiety, and that biographies indicate that he was a typical high-reactive baby. “That line ‘I will show you fear in a handful of dust’ — he couldn’t have written that without feeling the tension and dysphoria he did,” Kagan said.
Photo credit: Heather Bergdahl http://heatherbergdahl.com/2014/08/21/are-you-suffering-from-social-awkwardness/