….you want me to go out? Social Anxiety! ACK!
Yeah, it’s a problem I have. I want to go hang out with friends, yet I don’t because Oh My Fuck, I have to interact with people (strangers) and what if I say or do something stupid. I mean, I have no problem laughing at myself, but embarrassment can reach a level of “WHAT DID I DO?” that’s difficult to recover from. Blurting out something incredibly stupid? Yeah, that’s practically my daily life. I can talk on the phone all day and feel comfortable, but face-to-face is a whole other world that I do not do well in, though on occasion I have said something stupid on the phone too. I’d be surprised if extroverts understand what we introverts go through when it comes to socializing, but by all means correct me in the comments because I don’t want to come off as some “all-knowing” bitch and shit. Although, however introverted I may be, I *do* actually like socializing…with a small group of friends. I can’t handle big crowds. I end up sitting in a corner, observing everything, making friends with the dog if there is one. That also has its own benefits because the realist and worst-case-scenario person in me looks for ways out of every situation. You know, in case the zombie apocalypse begins while I’m out. One time, Scooter Boy wanted to do one of those wine and paint night things. They’re a lot of fun. So I grabbed my Groupon and registered, only to find out he and no one else had yet. I panicked and told him, “You *do* realize I have social anxiety and the idea of walking in there by myself is freaking me out.” His response was simply, “Oh shit!” and we had him and his girlfriend registered within a day or two. The result was that I now have a Starry Starry Night painting with a T.A.R.D.I.S. flying through the middle of it. It’s hanging in Umi’s room, mostly because I’m her favorite daughter (and only one), but also because that particular Van Gogh is her favorite. But yeah, social anxiety for me means that I can’t go do something like that by myself. The thought terrifies me.
Don’t get me wrong, I can do some things on my own, like grocery shopping or shopping in general, but I don’t see the point of going to a movie alone or anything that’s of entertainment value. I’m also weird about meeting new people, mainly because I’m worried they’ll think I’m weird, which I am, so…yeah. And I don’t like being in a position where I’m going to be put on display, which is why I didn’t go into acting and refuse to do karaoke, even though I can sing. As a writer, I sit here tapping away at my keyboard. My performance is done in private. You get the end result that (hopefully) is free of mistakes.
I like the solitude of my hermitdom, but holidays are the worst. My family doesn’t really get together anymore, and to be honest, I’m okay with that for me because I can write or watch a movie and be happy in my introverted little world. But Umi likes being around family sometimes, so I feel bad and try to make up for it as best I can. This Christmas I couldn’t do much because money is tight for multiple reasons. She deserves so much more. I actually wanted to travel somewhere this Christmas, but that didn’t happen. Normally, though, I forget there’s a holiday unless someone tells me. The only exception is Hallowe’en.
I started this post three months ago because it’s a struggle to reveal something on this level. When friends want me to go out with them, there are a number of factors at play. Sometimes I have a deadline and editing/writing during the week is tricky when I’m working a few long shifts to make up lost time for Umi’s doctor appointments so I don’t have to use my personal time. I’m already always exhausted due to lack of sleep and health issues. Having to work a longer shift makes it worse. Sometimes I’m not comfortable in my own skin and most certainly don’t want to go to a club. I don’t care for that scene anymore; it just annoys me on many levels and I don’t dance anymore. Other times I just want to sit and watch a movie, whether on my own or out with friends. I’m cool with grabbing a bite to eat or a coffee now and then, but I just don’t have the funds to go out more than once a month right now, and when you’ve had your friends pay your way for a long time in the past, it gets real uncomfortable for you when you actually have a job. To be honest, it’s embarrassing and makes me feel like complete shit. That’s not to say my friends treat me that way; just the opposite, in fact. My friends are awesome and try to make me socialize, which is sometimes a good thing, but the timing has to be right. If I’m a broke emotional wreck with a deadline? Forget it. (This actually happened Friday, for which I feel bad and know G is reading this)
So much happened the last half of 2015 that I’m still adjusting to the wreckage and picking up the pieces. Shit happened that I don’t talk about, because it doesn’t need to be talked about; it just needs to be fixed, which I am doing, but it’s going to possibly take me a couple of years to make things right. None of this helps the social anxiety at all. It sucks.
So….yeah, I have social anxiety, which I think has worsened over the years, but I’m working on it. It may seem like this post is about more than social anxiety, and it is. I’ve been slowly prioritizing things in my life, removing the things that aren’t important or urgent, so that I can create that life I don’t need a vacation from. A life on my terms. A life with functional social anxiety, with a little bit less fear. A life with more freedom than I have ever known.
We’ll get there.