On Social Anxiety

As I've grown up, I've think I've become a more confident, settled person.  I'm lucky enough to like most people and to have a good group of friends, colleagues and acquaintances.  I'm equally happy being the centre of attention, the life of the party or being a wallflower and hanging around the edge of a group.  I'd say that 80% of the time, I manage to socialise without getting too stressed, worried, or upset.

But sometimes, the old social anxiety hits.

And it's not pretty.

Just like that I turn from a fairly confident, happy-go-lucky, decently charming woman (of nearly 32!) to a puddle of nerves, worry, and self-doubt.

With almost perfect timing, this anxiety *always* kicks in at the busiest point in the social season, right around Christmas.  This year the panic all settled around our work night out.

Now, I always feel a bit like the weird kid in the corner at work (as it was in youth, so it is in adulthood...), but I get on well with my colleagues and consider a good few of them friends, so why would I get stressed?

I have little to no idea why.

But I do.

So on Thursday I was considering not going.

On Friday I woke up worried, with my tummy doing these awful somersaults to the point where I was physically ill.  I spent the whole day worrying.  The whole day.  Such a bizarre way for a grown up to behave.

Friday evening, I went and got ready with Jo, I went to the party, and had a pretty good time right up until the end.  It was lovely to visit with people, to have a few drinks, a dance, some food.  And then the moment happens.  That moment when you realise everyone has been dragged up to dance on the dancefloor in a great big happy, huggy loop.  Except you and a handful of others.

And even though it (probably) hasn't been intentional, it hits you like a punch in the stomach or an ice cold drink to the face and all the confidence and bravado falls away and you stand there small and scared and sad and lonely.  The little girl who never fit in, the bullied teen stands in the shoes of the woman you are now, and your face flushes and the saltwater rushes to your eyes.  So you leave.  And for the whole hour long journey home you feel sad and stupid and like an absolute muppet.

And yet another event I got all anxious about...leaves me feeling even more anxious.

No more works parties for me, I think.  It was beautiful, everyone had a great time, and I'm so grateful that the team put together such a nice bash.  But next year I think I better sit home with a boxset, and cry at fiction instead of upsetting myself.

I'm all too aware that this is in my head for the most part and that barely anyone will even have noticed this play out.  But it still smarted, you know?  I think in future I'd better stay home and avoid messing up anyone else's evening.

Am I the only one who gets worked up about these things?

Probably.  On the one hand, I hope so, because it's really quite stressful and upsetting when it happens (makes me just want to burrow and hide and avoid the world).  On the other hand, I'd love to know others felt this way sometimes, if only to pick up some hints and tips.

Right, I'm out.

Feeling better and stronger and happier today, but I needed to write about this.

More Christmas obsession / kitteh posts / happy happy joy joy soon, promise.
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5 comments:

  1. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for posting this. I never seem to manage anything too personal on my blog but perhaps I should as it's good to know others feel the same about things.

    This kind of thing has happened to me in the past. The way I deal with it is to think that those people who were dragging everyone up to dance probably left me as they know I'm one of the quieter ones and would rather not. They're kind of right, although I wish sometimes I wasn't like that. I try not to think of it as them not liking me as much, rather just knowing the sort of person I am.

    Also, I'm very observant and actually, if you watch what happens to others, you'd be surprised.

    Not sure if any of that made much sense! But you're not alone.

    Vic:)

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  2. Social anxiety is all too familiar to me...and I've learned to accept it. Mind you, I can feel fine when running a walk with 3,000 people, but a party with 10 people I don't know, and I'm terrified. It's OK to stay home and be comfy :)

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  3. I'm glad that you wrote this out and that you feel better.

    I am confident that everyone, even effing supermodels, goes through social anxiety. I know that it happens to me, even when going out with close friends who have known me forever.

    I think it's a side effect of any sort of put-downs/ill treatment that we've gone through in the past (I felt like an outsider in elementary and high school many times) and of course, of any self doubt we have, which we all have.

    So just hang in there and know that you're not alone. Don't feel about wanting to stay in with a boxset.

    And if a particular social event stresses you, don't bother going.

    I skipped my work Christmas party this year. And I bet you know why. :)

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  4. Thanks, ladies. Feeling better now and more settled :)

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  5. Glad you feel better now. It really sucks!

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