anxiety · life · social anxiety

Trying (Or Not Trying At All)

I feel as if I am moving at a snail’s pace now. I struggle to find purpose in my everyday life. I don’t know where to go or what to do. I sign up to attend things. I tap “interested” on public events listed on Facebook. I make plans to go out. But lately, I seem to always change my mind. The reasons for this can vary. I feel myself subconsciously resisting on some level when it’s time to go out. Am I truly anxious about meeting new people, or am I stuck in the habit of always finding another “what if this happens” fear to be anxious about? I make up reasons in favor of not going. It’s too chilly outside. There will be too many people there. No one is going to want to talk to me. I’m going to be late anyway, so what’s the point of going? Next time then, I say to myself. I’ve promised not to beat myself up about unfulfilled plans because getting into that kind of mindset doesn’t help me. Yet, I really feel the weight and consequences of my choices at unexpected moments, and it’s in these moments I feel ashamed to recognize I haven’t truly tried and pushed myself to work towards what I want.

A friend suggested to me weeks ago that I apply to Trader’s Joe since he is also applying to several of their stores. The idea appealed to me since I genuinely like shopping at Trader’s Joe and both the people and products there are great. I immediately got to work printing out five blank applications and filled them out. I looked up their store locations near me and decided to go to each one to drop off the applications on the same day I would be in Manhattan for a meditation meetup. I even browsed Glassdoor.com to read about the interview experience at Trader Joe’s, and learned there are two specific questions I might be asked on the spot after turning in the application. They aren’t hard questions, but it’s having to look a person in the eye and answer with a confident tone that’s the problem for me. However, I made a lot of excuses for myself to not make the trip, unfortunately. Mostly I got cold feet. I remember several mornings I got up, ate breakfast and prepped for going out. The main thing I remember is a feeling of a quiet anxiety churning through me as I thought about going to the meditation class, and then having to drop off my applications at the stores. It is different from when I feel full blown, heart pounding panic-stricken anxiety. The quiet anxiety was like a sense of dread building within me as I sat in the kitchen and the minutes ticked by. I didn’t have a very good strategy for calming myself down or easing the worry. I do like what many people do and try to distract myself from my emotions by playing around on my phone. Pretty soon ten minutes turned into fifteen minutes turned into a half hour. It would be time for me to leave for my train ride and I would hesitate. Self-doubt rang through my mind. Do I really want to go out? Can I do this? What will the people there think of me? Am I really doing this? I have played this horrible game with myself many times before. Before I knew it, several minutes went by and I missed my estimated time for leaving the house. Then I canceled my RVSP for the meditation class. Why? Because I always need to be early to an event. If I don’t get there early, I’m convinced I’ll look like an idiot walking in late.

Yesterday evening I lived to regret my decision when my mom casually mentioned to my brother (in front of me) that he got $3,000 in tax returns. When he asked her if I was listed as a dependent on the tax form, she said yes and added that I had to be since she (as in my mom) is no longer working so he’d have to claim responsibility for me. I don’t think she said any of this to embarrass me and was just stating the truth, but I felt particularly impacted by her words because I remembered the Trader Joe’s applications which I told myself I would hand in and never did. I felt quite disappointed in myself in this instance because I see I am still holding back too much and letting my social anxiety stop me from pursuing something I want to try. I have to keep in mind what it is I am working towards; independence and perhaps at least some financial freedom.

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8 thoughts on “Trying (Or Not Trying At All)

  1. It must be very hard for you, but good on you for actually looking up and out and trying to get out there. When I plan to go out somewhere by myself like getting groceries for myself, I usually don’t procrastinate and usually have no problem going out the door. But when it’s catching up with someone like a friend or (worse) someone I’ve met a few times, like you I wander around the house. Check my phone, hope that they cancel. The thought of having a conversation face-to-face puts me off; it scares me.

    “I sign up to attend things”. About a year ago my friend suggested I sign up to social events like one-off dancing classes, go out to cultural festivals, meet up with people who do writing since I am a writer…you get the idea. I always nodded along but never signed up or went to anything. It used to bother me others kept insisting I be me social and out there. Now it doesn’t because I’ve come to realise my happiness isn’t entirely theirs and why be more uncomfortable than I am. Others can think what they think.

    Today I went into a shop tried a winter jacket in the change rooms and actually took it to the register to buy it, and I am proud of myself for it. In the past for a long time, that was something I wasn’t able to do without shaking all over. Though I must say when the cashier tried to make small talk with me, I felt very uncomfortable.

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    1. Part of the reason I have trouble not overthinking when I go out alone is it makes me uncomfortable to have to let my parents know where I will be. They usually are fine with just knowing where I will be and what time I’ll be back, but it’s when they ask more questions that I start to feel antsy. I know I shouldn’t feel so sensitive sharing info that’s not even that serious, but I do have a chip on my shoulder about perceiving other people know things about me and will likely share that info if someone else asks where I went if they notice I’m not home. The other part for my procrastination is a mixture of feeling anxious about being around people and actually feeling like I don’t deserve to have fun and/or have too much spare time on my hands when I could be working. Like you, I check my phone hoping the other person canceled so I won’t have to go lol.

      It’s definitely hard when people suggest you come out to stuff and socialize more. I can see how the friend might trying to be helpful, but ultimately it’s your life and while others think you can benefit from being more social, I agree that you can do what makes you comfortable instead of doing what other people want for you.

      Congrats on buying the jacket. I usually dislike making a beeline for the cash register if I see no one is on line so I have to walk up and approach the idle cashier. It’s scary. I never know what to say during small talk. It’s not bothersome if the cashier asks me how I am, but I feel very awkward giving an answer that sounds incredibly boring like, “oh I’m fine”, or “I’m doing well” and then the conversation ends and I’m left standing there as the cashier scans and bags my item(s).

      Not to go into too much detail, but there was a recent clothing store venture of mine that left me in a state of panic to the point I didn’t buy the jeans I wanted and just got out of there. I appreciate when store employees come over to ask if I need help, and one of them even assisted me with getting a fitting room, but I quickly learned their protocol with customers is to check on them every few minutes and ask how they are doing. It was so awkward having to repeatedly tell the guy that I was fine when all I wanted to do was try on my jeans without interruption. Then when I got out of the fitting room, I was creeped out by the fact many of the employees were just hanging around with nothing to do. One of them looked so bored that she was casually studying me. It was so off putting that I pretended to wander off into an isolated corner, jot down the name of the jeans (so I could buy it online later) and get the heck out of there.

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      1. It must be annoying those sales staff hovering around the change room. Sometimes I think they do that in order to intimidate you into buying from them. When that happens, all I want to is just get out of there without making eye contact.

        As much as I like to try before I buy, I am beginning to see online shopping as so much easier.

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      2. I get that for many retail jobs, customer service is a big part of their responsibilities. I just find it really off putting when people do it too much. Like, I went to the same clothing store at a different location prior to my bad experience at the one I described and I felt fine there because no one was bugging me or standing around looking at me. It also didn’t help that at the second store, it was virtually empty of customers except for me.

        Online shopping is great because a lot of things are cheaper on the web, but I hate having to pay for shipping costs unless it’s free.

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  2. I feel exactly the same way in my day to day life. Social anxiety is such a crippling thing to deal with and I’ve gotten really good at coming up with excuses (for other people and to tell myself) not to do things. Meditation is a great idea and I think that if you don’t make it to a class, then just going through it at home for a bit will help. And then you can give it another shot next time.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Yep, social anxiety sucks big time. :/ The more I avoid something, the more anxious I get the next time I find myself attempting to go in the situation that I was avoiding last time.

      I’m unsure if I can meditate on my own, only because I don’t know if I have it in me not to be distracted. I guess I will never know until I try.

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  3. To date I’ve never attended an event that I clicked “interested” on, lol. I stopped clicking it. I go out on my terms and spend time with people that are safe. That is enough for me but then I’m older and have that luxury, or perhaps it’s a safety feature developed years ago. I don’t have social anxiety but I do have anxiety that does cripple me at times. I hate it, everything about it.

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    1. It’s good that you have people you feel safe enough to hang out with. I can count maybe one person at this point that I’ve hung out with on previous occasions and only recently I’ve been getting somewhat more comfortable with him and more willing to talk. Usually I am quiet in social situations because I’m very nervous and afraid of how I’ll be perceived no matter what I say.

      I hate that I always find a way to make myself feel bad about myself, even if I am attempting to do something good like get out of the house to an event. Typically I have no one to go with and even before I set my foot out the door, the negative side of me is drilling that I’m a total loser for going by myself and that there’s no point in going at all.

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