anxiety · life · social anxiety

My perspective and decisions; wrong or right?

Having social anxiety has given me the opportunity to experience life through a lenses 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 overtly social within the meetup group. Everytime 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 shuteye 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 rvsped 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 overtly 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 rvspers (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. 2-4 people is my comfort zone, and 5 is  where I feel my people limit setting in. This ideal is not trellis 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”.

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12 thoughts on “My perspective and decisions; wrong or right?

    1. You mirror my exact sentiments. I just don’t understand how some people in the social anxiety meetup group are so active and are always thinking about the next event they are thinking about attending.

      I know this one guy in the group who has implied that he goes to events, even ones that make him uncomfortable. He’s come to my coloring event pretty consistently, and I’m perplexed to know that after he comes to my event, he usually has another event he is going to. How does he have the energy to pack everything so tightly during his day? It’s a challenge for me to even go to one event per week…

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      1. Different intensities of anxiety, perhaps; or different recovery times, introversion/extroversion, etc. (Though you strike me as an extrovert as well, going by your posts. 🙂 )

        Talking about future events could just be a common chitchat topic to bring up as well. It’s easy to do homework on (i.e. prepare what to say) and it’s a pretty safe topic that others could easily respond to. Helps (them) with deciding whether to attend such events too, I would think.

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      2. I’m surprised you think I’m an extrovert. I’m a bit flattered you think so, though I believe I’m quite introverted. I still feel I suck at conversation and I become very quiet when I’m anxious.

        Yes, future events within the group are a safe topic to bring up during a discussion. My problem is when I’m asked if I’m going or not, I get very self conscious. I feel pressure to say that I’m going because I think that’s what people are expecting out of me.

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      3. A socially anxious extrovert is something I’m still trying to wrap my mind around as well. It seems oxymoronic but it is possible and it does happen. Extroversion just seems to fit you. Of course, I could be wrong since I only have your posts to go on.

        How about giving neutral responses like saying you’re not sure yet or that you’ve not made up your mind yet? You could follow it up with questions about the events and inquire about who’s going. Short questions would take the spotlight off you more quickly and have the ball be in their court.

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      4. I think I’m better at “talking” when I write/type. When I actually have to verbalize it by speaking to someone, I feel I sound less polished because social anxiety influences how I say things. I’ve had times where I’m very vague about a topic if I talk to someone face-to-face about it because I feel uncomfortable expressing my opinion. And it’s never the topic that makes me uncomfortable, but the fact I’m sharing a part of myself by engaging in a conversation, and not knowing what kind of feedback I will get from the other person.

        I will take your advice and try to give neutral responses next time the topic of future meetup events come up. Usually I don’t even want to ask questions and just want the conversation to end as soon as possible lol. My discomfort with the topic becomes my main focus and I think that’s why I abort from the conversation so fast.

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      5. I get the feeling of being exposed, of being vulnerable, in social situations. For me, there are certain things that I can control or at least try to (eg. clothes, speech, movements), but there are so many other factors that are out of my control. Just being there and not saying or doing anything feels like I’m giving away so much information about myself — too much unwarranted information. And I can’t control how others perceive or judge me. Granted, I know I’m not perfect and I know I have many flaws; no one is going to have solely positive judgements about me. Everyone has different preferences as well; not everyone is going to like me or everything about me. It’s like an internal dichotomy — between logic and anxiety. Do you relate to this?

        About the expressing of opinions, my problem is actually quite the opposite. I tend to be too willing to voice my opinions, which comes across as rude/abrasive/(insert negative adjective here). The way I see it: I voice my opinion, you voice yours, we gain new perspectives, we needn’t agree with each other but that doesn’t mean it’s a negative interaction (unless personal attacks are involved, which they shouldn’t), it’s just a neutral exchange/sharing of ideas. But most others don’t see it that way.

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      6. I agree. I definitely worry about giving away things about myself just by being in a social situation, even if I hardly say anything, because my stance on how I hold myself and how I react is bound to shape how other people perceive or judge me. It’s a given that not everyone will like me, but it still hurts to think that someone might dislike me.

        At my last coloring meet up, one girl came in late and I noticed all throughout the event that she consistently was staring off or twiddling a coloring pencil in her hand but not really coloring. I started to wonder if she felt bored or something. At the end she admitted that the coloring design made her stressed out and she didn’t feel relaxed about coloring. Even now, days after this incident, I feel bad about her having a not good experience at the meetup and of course it makes me think she dislikes me. Which is probably not true, but I feel responsible for her feeling stressed since it was my event.

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    1. Yeah, I think it’s best I go slow with the meetups and not think so much about how many I am going to per week. At this point even going to one per week feels like a lot to me, so maybe this is where I should stay for a while. There’s one in September 4 I want to go to because I’m genuinely interested in the event and want to try it out. But otherwise I can’t see myself doing two meetups per week yet.

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