anxiety · life · social anxiety

Anything Could Happen

Only recently I started to accept that social anxiety will always be a part of me. No miracle pill to make me devoid of anxiety, nervousness, and worry. No magic spell to cure me of the constant stream of negativity going around and around in my head. If there was an unearthly but possible way I could physically rip away everything in me that is associated with my social anxiety, I would jump at this chance.

One of my favorite shows is Once Upon a Time. Don’t be fooled by the title. For a show about fairytale characters in the real world, it has some dark elements, such as the ability to rip out hearts that some magic users on the show can do. It’s also possible for a magic user to rip out their own heart. Doing so can cause the person to stop feeling emotions fully. If I have my own heart ripped out and buried somewhere in order to stop feeling anxious, yet at the same time, lose my ability to fully feel love and happiness, I cannot say for sure that I’d be strong enough to turn down the offer, even if going through with it made me into a cold and unfeeling person. Though the show itself having many magical solutions to real life problems, the downside is there is always a price the person has to pay. One character on the show said that living with one’s pain makes you who you are. Brave words that I’d like to believe.

I’m still stuck between wanting to run and pushing myself to stay whenever I’m in a situation where I am socially uncomfortable. Some days are better than others. Once in a while, I make myself go to a social event and it turns out fine, despite the million things going on in my head screaming at me that it could all fall apart at any second. I’m very set in my negative thinking. Put myself into a social situation, assume the worst will happen, nothing bad happens but I perceive it as bad, and then afterward spend the next few hours and/or days picking out all the times I made an idiot of myself. Rinse and repeat.

I did not attend a social event today, however, I noticed for the first time that aside from my usual thinking of everything is going to go wrong, there’s also a truth outside the scope of my perception: Anything could happen.

It’s so simple that it’s laughable. Here I am constantly trying to predict my future, my actions and the actions of others when I’m in a social situation, but I must be the world’s worst fortune teller because none of the things I have thought up have ever come true. I am very selective about believing only bad things will happen to me when I really have no way of knowing with 100% certainty that things will turn out that way. I’m just realizing the gravity of that now.

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3 thoughts on “Anything Could Happen

  1. I’ve battled social situations through out my life. One thing that has helped me is assuming everyone is as nervous as I am, and just as on guard. When I walk in I have a big smile on my face and act as if meeting them is the highlight of my day. This puts them at ease so that I can recede into a safer place within myself. If I walk in with a frown they all want to know what’s going on and “help”. That puts me in an even more vulnerable position making it that much harder for the next get together.

    Even with people I am super close to. My anxiety says that when I walk in they are going so say, “I hate you, you’re an awful person, I never want to see you again.” so when they smile, happy to see me, I can sigh with relief. People don’t get it with the exception of those of us who live with anxiety.

    I’m having to really use all my tools right now. On Monday I am going into a program where I’ll be with 11 other people, plus staff, for 6 weeks. I’ll be living in a house with some if not all of those people… ugh. I crochet, that helps break the ice.

    I was invited to thanksgiving where there would be strangers. I brought my crochet, sat at the far end of the couch and started crocheting. It sparked conversation about crocheting and I can “talk crochet” till I’m blue in the face, so it broke the ice. Do you have small cross stitch projects you can tote around with you?

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    1. Reading about your experiences with those who are close to you, it reminds me of a recent thing in my life. I saw one of my cousins, whom I literally grew up with and saw all the time all throughout our childhood, teen and early college years, for the first time in about 3 years. This was last week I saw her. I hate the feeling of playing catch up after not seeing someone for a very long time. I kinda implied to her (by text) that I didn’t have much going on, and I guess she understood I didn’t really want to talk about my job situation (I’m unemployed) and had said it’d just be great to be together again. Part of me was still super worried that she wouldn’t want to see me in person or even be happy to see me, but she was.

      Perhaps I will try to use the same technique of assuming everyone else at the social event is as nervous as I am. It’s definitely hard to do. I’m the type to get so wrapped up in my own anxiety that I retreat into silence and spend so much energy maintaining a semblance of normalcy on my face that if people attempt to engage with me, I say the quickest answer I can think of, out of nervousness and an inability to focus on the conversation rather than on my anxiety. I also used to have a very black and white view of other people. I assumed everyone else besides me doesn’t feel nervous at all. I am aware now that other people feel emotions like I do, though maybe not everyone feels it to the same extent as me, such as those without social anxiety. Still, I often feel inferior in social situations if I perceive other people are more talkative or likeable than me.

      That’s really brave of you to go into that program for 6 weeks. Crocheting seems like a safe topic to have conversations about. I wish I could learn, but I’m so lazy. A family member got me a mini crochet kit two years ago that I never used. Unfortunately, most of my cross stitch projects are quite large, haha. I’m a real go-getter with cross stitching and like doing large projects because it’s challenging and I enjoy using many colors. I do think I can start on smaller projects too though. I have some ideas for making stitch designs on cards for my family and friends. Every year since I started stitching, I tell myself I’m going to stitch pretty designs for birthday and holiday cards, and maybe this is the year I will finally start. 🙂

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