Having social anxiety has given me the opportunity to experience life through a lens that someone without social anxiety has never experienced. It’s both good and bad. Good because my suffering has helped shape me to be more compassionate and open-minded to other people. Bad because I am on the spectrum of social anxiety where I sometimes feel despondent and alone in my struggles, despite having made friends or connected with other people in real life that have social anxiety as well.
The bottom line is everyone is going through some shit in their lives right now. I try to remember that, but I’m also horribly selfish am impatient. I don’t want to feel anxious. I don’t want to have to fight against my social anxiety on a daily basis. I just want to give up, at times, and magically wish away my social anxiety. It’s hard not to feel, “Oh poor me! My life is too fucking hard and the world is being so unfair to me” when the bigger picture is that everyone has something, whether it’s a physical or psychological disability, and there are those struggling in a way I could never understand because I’m not in their positions. That being said, it means having social anxiety is not the end of the line for me. Sometimes, yes, it does feel like the worst thing in the world, but I guess I perceive this when I blow things out of proportion.
I’ve been like a ghost in the social anxiety meetup group lately, and I haven’t attended any events lately except my coloring book event, which of course I must be there for since I am the host. I’ve gotten good at committing to having this event once a week, however, I’ve come to a standstill over attending other events. I don’t know if this is just me, but I definitely feel pressure to be overly social within the meetup group. Every time I hosted the coloring event, without fail, someone brings up other upcoming events in the group and I’m asked if I’m going. I usually say I haven’t decided or I’m still thinking about my decision. The truth is I teeter between going and not going because it takes a lot out of me to even show up to an event. Even doing my coloring event once a week is like running a marathon for me. Before the event start time, I’m nervous and possibly sleep deprived depending on how much shut-eye I got the night before. During the event, I’m nervous and trying to push myself to talk to people when I can or to remain blissfully quiet when I feel like it. After the event, I feel exhausted and tired. The coloring event only lasts 2 hours, but people often stay longer to color and chat. Last week, I had to stay for 6 hours straight until people started to call it a day and began leaving. Now, the day after the event, I don’t want to be social; I want to be left alone to pursue my hobbies and relax. Depending on my mood, I may feel this way for the rest of the week, and will really, really not want to go to another social anxiety meetup event.
The main thing I think about is how apart I feel from people in the group, so even when I recognize the names of some people I know who have RSVPed to a certain event, I don’t see myself being able to socialize because I don’t really know those people that well. Plus the anxiety factor of showing up and finding the group.
Lately, I’ve been questioning if having my coloring event as the only event I am consistently attending is enough to help my social anxiety. At the same time, I do not want to feel the need to give other people the false impression that I am overly social and make myself show up to an event every day just to keep up appearances. Or maybe I should just do events when I feel like going, with little care about how often I go.
There’s a hiking event on September 4th I signed up for. I intend to go, for sure. This past Saturday there was a summer social mingling event at a bar, but I didn’t go. Just the number of RSVPers (well over 100+) made me dread being in the same room as that many people. Not to shut people out, but I really do prefer being in a smaller crowd. Having 2-4 people would be my comfort zone, and is where I feel my people limit setting in. This ideal is not really possible in the social anxiety group that as over 1,000 members, but also, the rvsp list is never truly an accurate count for how many people will show up to the event. It’s quite tiresome to have to guess who will come and who will not.
I also changed my coloring event hours from 2pm – 4pm to 12 pm – 2 pm now. Having the event in the afternoon has given me more time in the mornings to get ready and not feel so rushed, but the downside is I end up feeling anxious the whole morning until things start at 2 pm. So I changed the hours to an earlier time to make myself deal with the situation earlier in the day and get it over with. I’m really not as calm as I pretend to be on the outside. Still, I have moments where as soon as I arrive to the event location, I basically want to high tail it out of there and gtfo, but I can’t leave my own event when I’m expecting people to show up. Then comes the pleasantries I give people when they’re leaving and I’m leaving, and afterwards all I can focus on is thinking, Thank god it’s over.