Monday, September 9, 2013

High Anxiety


Just like everyone else, I have fears.  Heights and being eaten by an alligator are near the top of that list.
Thank god I don't live in Miami anymore, where kayaking brackish waters scared the piss out of me.  Although no one could tell cause I was already wet.  But, I digress.  As a shy, introvert, my #1 top fear has always been social.  Which is why I'm a writer.  Blissfully alone with my thoughts, with a keyboard for a companion.

The thing is, I really like people a lot.  I just want to meet them one at a time when I'm not dressed up to look presentable in uncomfortable clothes in the morning.  That's when I have most of my energy to force myself to do things I absolutely don't want to do.  Of course, that's not how social occasions work.  They're generally large affairs with plenty of people, wearing high heels, in the evening.

Luckily, this one is smallish, I'm wearing my cute flip flops and a t-shirt dress in the late afternoon. Because after the initial stress of deciding whether to go or not to go.  And making the phone call to commit, hoping against hope you'll get their voicemail, after all that, then comes the stress of what to wear. I never want to be the most dressed up person there.  Or the most casual person.  Both mean you stand out. And that's the last thing I want to do. I've even gone into my closet in search of a forgettable outfit to combat this.   Usually, I try to go middle of the road and think about what the other party goers, who I don't even know, might be wearing. Which creates a lot of What not to Wear hypothetical scenarios for consideration. And, it's exhausting.

The day of the event, I'll try to distract myself.  But, I won't.  I'll obsess over what I'm going to say.  Imagining I'll drop the salsa all over my dress and the cilantro will inevitably get stuck in my teeth.  Making it uncomfortable for the person I'm trying to talk to while I do my friendly listening smile I practiced in the mirror that morning.

The more I try to stop this vicious cycle, the more it plays on repeat in my head.

Finally, when it's time and I walk in to introduce myself, I get so nervous, that I can never think of intelligent things to ask or say.  I totally draw a complete blank and become a total freakin' moron.  Every stinkin' time.

Which is exactly what happened yesterday at my friend's baby shower.  What I didn't know when I rsvp'd is that two other friends of mine would be there.  Thank god.  But this moron amnesia, it's not just verbal.  So, when it came down to playing the obligatory games like they do at showers, I had nothing.  Absolutely nothing in my head to put down on that piece of paper.  Which made me feel really awkward, so I just wrote down smart ass comments as fast as I could to look busy.   While self-editing in my head.  because I didn't know if they collected them or made us read them out loud or something at the end.  Thankfully, they didn't.  But, I was the only person to score an absolute zero on nursery rhymes. Effectively, I failed a pop quiz that a 3 year old would have aced. How embarrassing is that?


And that's when I went home and opened that really cheap, crappy bottle of merlot that someone always leaves at your house after a party.  

15 comments:

Cerebrations.biz said...

No wonder you like the Kasbah. No one talks to strangers there!

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, I thought I was an off-the-charts introvert! I am plenty anxious and not a sparkling conversationalist, but I pay the biggest price after the event, when I'm totally exhausted. I hate to think of all your cleverness being locked inside like that, especially if you go out to promote your book! (FWIW, I have a friend who swears by Paxil.)

The Loerzels said...

@ Roy-Nice!
@BOG- You nailed it, the post event exhaustion is exhausting!

Leah Griffith said...

LOL! Cheap wine and flip-flops. The remedy for social anxiety;)

I hate parties where we're obligated to mingle. I can't help but compare myself to others...always coming out on the bottom. Everyone else is so much more confident, well-spoken, and yes, well-dressed than me.

I like people either one at a time or 10,000 at once. Everything in-between is a huge chore.

The Loerzels said...

@ Leah-You would never come out on the bottom, ever! And 10,000 people is like being alone with 9,999 other people and there's a strange comfort in that. Unless you all have to use the bathroom at the same time.

Caro Ness said...

Flip flops are pretty much a cure for most things

Suerae Stein said...

I have a lot of experience with anxiety. And I've learned all too well that it robs us of some of the best things life has to offer. It's hard to imagine you having social anxiety to such a degree after reading your writing. You have so much to offer by way of wit, humor, and character. I find that if you are honest about your fears with people, you'd be amazed at how many others feel the same way. Your answers to the nursery rhyme were hysterical!

Carol Tomany said...

Wait 'till you have to go to funerals

Carolina HeartStrings said...

HEY! I am a Tuesday Child! Anyway I can relate. Do not like the spotlight at all social or otherwise.

Ann Mullen said...

I hate crowds so much I don't want to leave the house. Going to church is rough although I have fun when I get to answer questions, but in a schoolish sort of forum. Forget parties, I have only been to one over the past 10+ years. I turn into a Social Moron. That one party was at my church, so I was a Social Mormon Moron. Say that again 5 times. I knew you couldn't do it.

As for uncomfortable clothes, I gave those up long, long time ago and now I wear cotton dresses from Vermont County Store every day, even Sunday.

I know exactly how you feel and I wish that I could take it away from you. But maybe you can learn what I could not. After all you are still young.

Joy Page Manuel said...

I hate those games, esp. the nursery rhymes. You can imagine how painful that must be for me who did not even grow up here! I know of some, sure, but not as much as the common American does. Obviously, you're not common. Yes, you are exceptional! Now let's share that bottle of Merlot, shall we? ;-)

The Loerzels said...

@ Caro-Yes they are!
@ Suerae-I enjoy entertaining myself (thus this blog)
@ Carol-Can't wait! At least I can narrow down the clothing options to black.
@ Carolina- We should have a anti-social pity party sometime. Although it should be on-line thing.
@ Ann-You're never too old to change! That's my motto anyhow...
@Joy-I would share a crappy bottle of Merlot with you any day of the week!

MuMuGB said...

I am not too keen on social events either. I don't know why. And the merlot doesn't do anything to me. i would love to see your cute flip-flops. It sounds like a good idea.

Janine said...

Oh dear I so know how you feel. I dragged myself to an evening networking thingy a few weeks ago. Made the mistake of wearing a green dress with bright red lipstick and a cream jacket…when combined with my red hair I was the brightest most stand out person there as everyone was in their black suity office attire. Damn it!

Penelope J said...

I can relate. Don't know why all my clever comments dry up in my head when I'm at social functions. Then if I manage to say something smart, someone else says the same thing five minutes later and everyone listens to her - it's always a her - instead.

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