anxiety · fears · friends · friendship · insecurities · social anxiety

Alone or Together

I know I am a person capable of much even though I have anxiety. I get anxious over purportedly “dumb” things. I belittle myself in this way because of the many times I’ve been in the moment of being actively anxious and how stuck I am. I think, Why am I feeling anxiety over this? Why does it seem like everyone else can do the task easily and I can’t? Still nowadays in my worst fits I wonder why I am unable to just “get over it” without mulling over and acknowledging the anxiety. I guess if I had it my way, I would prefer to run away from my own feelings and not think about anything at all but in the longrun that is neither helpful or healthy.

When I’m by myself in public, there are things I am able to do on my own now that were once out of the question for me to attempt. It used to be paralyzing to even think about trying to fight what was giving me so much pain. Selecting out a few things at the convenience store and paying for it at the counter. Entering a cafe or bakery to place an order. Eating food in public. Making eye contact. Wearing clothes or jewelery I like. Volunteering and interacting with other people. Walking through a crowded area. Attending an event by myself.

I still struggle, in varying low to high degrees, with doing some of these things because of a combination of the difficulty in pushing myself to actually DO IT and the mild or intense anxiety that arise from worrying about what might happen if I confront my fears.

This post is convenient timing given the subject matter since I neglected to mention (as I meant to do a week or two earlier) about another guest post I did for the wonderful mental health awareness blog, You, Me & Anxiety. In this particular post, I wrote about getting minor anxiety over buying a muffin. Yes, a muffin. Don’t laugh at me! 😣

Opposed to the hurdles I face if I’m alone, what about the times I am with someone else? I see differences in the things I feel I “can’t” do depending on which person I am with.

On Friday I was hanging out with my friend Eve who had come from Norway to vacation in NYC. We have been online friends for years and finally met in-person!

While we had plans to grab coffee and chat for a bit before seeing a movie together, I got there a few minutes late and so we decided to head to the theater first instead. I semi-knew the way there but needed to navigate the directions on my phone. Had I been by myself, I would have stood there squinting to see which street side was the correct direction to go towards. Or paced down one way to see if my location on the phone map changed in the right way, or attempt to match the nearby stores listed on the map to figure out where I was direction-wise. Asking a stranger for help would have been a resounding H*LL NO in my mind due to my unanimous fear of being annoying by bothering the person. In this case, I did the opposite because I was with Eve and I felt responsibility for taking charge or we’d be late for the movie. So the rush of anxiety pumping in my body but once it was apparent I didn’t know which side of the street was which, I locked eyes with a street ticket seller and quickly asked him.

I am fine walking on my own in silence but I felt a little sensitive about the brief intervals of quiet between Eve and I as we walked. Maybe it wasn’t that weird since I had to keep looking at my phone to make sure we were going the right way plus we kept having to dodge people on the street because of how crowded it was. This wasn’t exactly an ideal for strolling and leisurely conversation. I could have been too nervous just from these situational factors. After we got our tickets, I almost wanted to buy popcorn so we could share it. But it seemed to be bad timing since the movie was set to begin in 4 minutes and we climbed 5 floors of escalators just to find the right room. So I didn’t ask her.

Then we went to Starbucks after the movie. We didn’t order together but I still got jittery from talking to the cashier. I just got an iced coffee though my original plans was to get food too. My sense is I felt more nervous about doing stuff with Eve after chatting with her online for so long and not having the experience of meeting her until now. There’s a first time for everything. Including eating in front of her, which I chickened out of. 😲 I wish I hadn’t felt that way as she ordered food and it would’ve been fine for me to eat too. To clarify, yes, I knew what she looked like beforehand (we are longtime Facebook friends). It was more about shyness of eating and wondering if I got crumbs on my mouth or made a mess even if I tried not to. It’s funny how astronomically blown-up this seemed at the time I was thinking it. The horror of a croissant flake sticking to my teeth! Oh no! Eve got a smidge of cream cheese on her lip that, to me, seemed normal to happen while eating and I even thought she looked cute. Meanwhile moments earlier when I backed out of ordering food, I imagined a similar scenario happening for me with embarrassing results. 😑 I am unrelentingly harsh on myself yet if it’s someone else, I have nothing but sympathy. Argh!

Overall I think the hangout went well. We sat down to chill with our drinks/food and talked. It was a great opportunity to practice my listening and conversation skills and share things about myself. I learned new things about Eve, like that she is allergic to cats and pollen and she likes the comic strips from Calvin and Hobbes. We also took several selfies together. I never thought there would be a day where she and I could be in the same photo together, haha.

Featured Image by Curriculum Photografia.

17 thoughts on “Alone or Together

  1. Aw cute! Sounded like fun and like it went well! 🙂
    I love eating so much I definitely would’ve gotten food xD
    I get so anxious about navigation, too, and don’t like asking people. Thank goodness for the phone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m so relieved I didn’t chicken out of the hangout. 😀 This was a rare opportnity too since I don’t know if my friend is going to stop by NYC again in the future so I thought this would be my chance to see her in-person. I regret that I didn’t get food! That iced coffee was yummy but didn’t fill my stomach lol.

      Navigating is a pain. Just thinking about back in the ol’ days when people relied on asking for help, I don’t know how they managed that. I feel I had no choice (in the situation I was in) but to ask since my friend was counting on me to lead the way to the theater. But yeah, if I were by myself, I don’t think I would have asked. ugh. XD

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes 😀 I’m glad you had fun! I’m sad you did not get food, though, haha. I don’t like asking people for directions because all I hear is a combination of lefts and rights and I’m as lost as ever!!! Back then it was acceptable to walk around with maps but now.. we may look a bit silly haha

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Next time I won’t hold back from the food and will eat to my heart’s content. 🙂 Asking someone for directions is daunting enough, but yes, listening to a series of complex “you take a left, then a right, and then you’ll reach a street where you should take another right…” is hard to follow! Those times it’s like information overload and I barely absorbed anything the person told me but then I’m too embarrassed to ask him/her to explain everything slower. Instead I just say, “Okay, thank you” and walk away pretending not to be still lost… Around NYC, I feel nostalgic when I see people on the subway or on the streets with actual maps. I’m like, yes! the age of relying on maps hasn’t died out yet!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. LOL yeah I usually nod to show I’m “listening,” say “Thank you,” then go back to being lost straightaway xD That’s awesome you still see people with actual maps. Sometimes that can be more convenient than having your phone out the whole time dying from battery drainage and turning the screen off on you over and over again.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The phone battery drains so fast! Grrr. Isn’t it lame how when the battery is not down to half yet that it can give a person anxiety about not having full battery? That happens to me all the time. It’s tedious. When I go out, I bring an extra phone battery plus a second one just to get my phone to last all day. 😵

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Seriously! After getting full battery I’m happy for like a few minutes then it slowly goes down to below 90% and I’m like noooooooooooo
        I try to take a portable charger and it’s def better than nothing but also not perfect. I think having an extra battery is pretty good. It’s like instant 100% but then you always got to make sure that one’s charged ahead of time too and @_@ *anxiou breathing* ahaha

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes! The 100% never sticks around for long! The extra battery is awesome but I got played a few times after plugging in to the wall overnight and then only realizing hours later when I attempt to switch it out onto my phone that IT DIDN’T FULLY CHARGE. 😱😱 Then I am either screwed or I try to find someplace where I can plug in my wall charger.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Lol yep. I cannot even believe sometimes that we live in a time where we are so dependent on our phones. It’s sad but at the same time, I’m part of it too so I can’t judge too harshly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I find that I can usually do more in the company of others, but sometimes being alone is easier (shopping for clothes is a big one – I always think the person I’m with will judge my taste in fashion, and clearly they don’t like those jeans because they just walked straight past them!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shopping alone is a plus for me too! I find there’s too much pressure to pick out clothes in a limited time and also having to be mindful of the people I am with waiting on me to finish shopping. But I can also relate to being judged for my fashion tastes. One time I really liked this shirt and my mom was like, “Oh that color makes you look too old.” Whether it did or didn’t, honestly I didn’t like her input because it hurt my confidence in myself. I believe I took it so personally because I used to not have any confidence at all in selecting clothes I liked.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. How fun to finally meet someone you’ve been online friends with for years in real life!
    I did the same once too and it was terrifying! But due to distance we actually remained online friends.

    Oh and btw, I hate eating when somenone’s watching me! Unless is someone really close to me.
    That’s why I hate lunch time with colleagues!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, so you also had the experience of meeting an online friend in-person. I’m glad we both could do it. ☺

      Me too, I don’t like people looking at me when I eat. Or even noticing that I am eating. With my friend, I think if I had eaten in front of her it wouldn’t have been a big deal since she ate in front of me too. I just felt too self-conscious about looking messy or trying to eat and talk at the same time. I dislike lunchtime with colleagues too. I help garden sometimes at a place and everytime my supervisor goes to lunch, I don’t eat yet and instead make a convenient excuse to continue working for a few minutes longer until my shift is over. Then I leave quietly and eat elsewhere on my own lol.


      1. I just declined a dinner with colleagues. My excuse was that I’m a vegetarian and they somehow accepted that without pushing me. Although I’m going to meet them tomorrow at breakfast since we’re all staying in the same hotel. Grrrrr


      2. Aw, darn, you were able to dodge dinner with them but not breakfast with them. :/ Hopefully it won’t be a very long breakfast?


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