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The Fear of Putting Myself Out There

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This weekend my boyfriend and I took a day trip to Asheville. With all the delicious food available, fun shops (including one of my favorite bookstores), art galleries, and hippie culture, it’s one of my favorite places to visit. On the drive back we started talking about upcoming social events. Given that Christmas and New Years are just around the corner, there are already invites for holiday gatherings popping up.

*Cue my wicked social anxiety*

Along with the holidays and (most) social events comes anxiety. I feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable in a lot of social situations, particularly when in the presence of people I don’t know. Upon first meeting me, I am often quiet and proficient in the art of expressing a resting bitch face. Mind you, this isn’t because I’m trying to come across as unfriendly or stuck up. I’m actually just terrified. Terrified that I’m going to say or do something stupid. Terrified that I am going to draw attention to myself. Terrified of what everyone is thinking of me. Terrified that everyone is judging me. I withdraw into the corner, either alone or with the one person that I am familiar with, and usually think myself into a miserable state. It’s SO much fun. :-\

This past year in particular my anxiety has been really bad. I’ve mentioned at some point previously that there had been a lot of changes in my social life. There was a social group I had joined the previous year, which had been a wonderful thing for me. Unfortunately, due to some drama among the members and some jealous exes, I was basically forced out of the group. Several of the people I used to consider friends are no longer on speaking terms with me and I feel like my social life overall has taken a major hit. I was devastated at the time all of this happened and didn’t handle it well. (I imagine this is part of what contributed to my eating disorder relapse a few months later.) It’s been long enough now that I’ve accepted that all this happened. I am not thrilled about it, but I’m not beating myself up over it anymore.

Fast forward to now, I am now stuck feeling like I have very few friends (the ones I do have I don’t feel particularly close with) and am starting over. I literally have no idea how to even begin making new friends again. (Sharing my crayons with the person sitting next to me doesn’t seem to be working out and has resulted in some strange looks from my co-workers.) I was fortunate when I found the last group. Prior to that I didn’t feel like I had many friends, except for a small handful. Sadly, most of these people have moved away to other states and I rarely get to see them. Even if I were to find some kind of meetup group, it would require a ton of effort on my part to even force myself to go talk to anyone. *Cue social anxiety again*

Some of the holiday events coming up involve people from the group that I am no longer part of. Some of the people in attendance will be those exact same people (or the friends of) that shoved me out. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how incredibly uncomfortable the situation is going to be. There have been a few similar situations over the past few months, none of which I handled particularly well. Truthfully, I don’t even know what the best way to handle any of this is. My brain tells me to stay home and avoid these events altogether, and that being around these people isn’t good for me. Other people disagree with me. They tell me to go and have fun, not to let those losers ruin things for me, etc. I don’t know which of us is correct.

The point of my long-winded babbling is that I’m terrified of putting myself out there for other people to see. Even if I go to one of the holiday parties and decide to just ignore my ex-friends, I’m still going to make myself miserable. I’m going to be afraid to talk much or let loose for fear that everyone else there (including the people I am still friends with) will also reject me. Every insecurity I have will come out and by the end of the evening I will be convinced that I am simply not good enough. The same thing will happen when I try to force myself into some new situation in order to meet new people. Everyone else will have fun and enjoy themselves, while I find myself panicking and desperately wanting to go home.

My fear of judgement can prevent me from doing a lot of things. Until now, I’ve been too afraid to even share my Etsy page with anyone (even my friends/family), because I was afraid they were going to laugh and think my crafts are stupid. Even little things like that terrify me.

I try not to use my anxiety as an excuse. I try really hard to fight it and push myself to do things, when I can, but it’s really difficult. Sometimes I wish I could pay someone to follow me around all day, nudging me forward whenever I start to take a step back.

I really don’t know how I am going to cope with the social aspect of the holidays yet. If anyone has any suggestions, I am listening.

~~~

Are you ever afraid to put  yourself out there? How do you deal with it? 

10 thoughts on “The Fear of Putting Myself Out There

  1. Oh Kiersten, let me count the ways. . . . I’m also plagued with social anxiety, to the point where I’ve given up going shopping because I’d always find myself backed into a “safe” corner, looking out for whoever might be out to “get me.” I would get dizzy, certain I was about to pass out; all this accompanied by nausea, fearing that I would “barf” in the aisles.
    I’m now on medication which “helps” somewhat, but in certain situations it never seems enough. I refuse to “over medicate” to cure my ills.
    What to say, other than you ARE NOT alone?! I don’t even feel comfortable going to family events, and avoid leaving my home “safety nest” as much as possible. Most people have no idea how terrifying this can be. “Relax, have a drink, have some fun!” they say. Well, as you well know, it’s simply not that simple! Encouraging words–in this case–can be cheap, and mostly useless, however encouraging and uplifting they are meant to be when suggested.
    I suppose this reply does little (if anything) to alleviate your predicament other than to let you know that your ARE NOT ALONE! Take this as encouragement, or as a grain of salt. It comes from my heart to let you know that others (MANY OTHERS) share in your suffering. Take care, and please keep that pretty chin up. You are a very worthy person! 🙂
    –Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m sorry you have to deal with this issue also. It can be quite frustrating. I appreciate your honesty and your encouragement. It’s nice knowing we aren’t alone in our struggles. If you ever want to chat more about it I am here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your pain, Kiersten. I won’t even do the lunches and other events with co-workers. But, I am going to my wife’s company Christmas dinner (mainly because there will be alcohol. I know that’s not the best reason, but it helps me.

    On a side note, my wife and I were in Ashville this week as well! We spent the Thanksgiving week in Maggie Valley (to avoid the family pressures of the holiday) and took many day trips.

    And remember, as Mr. Helms commented above, you’re not alone. If we lived closer, I’d love to sit and talk books and life with you over your favorite beverage.

    Peace,
    B

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s funny that you were also in Asheville! I love it there so much. If I could afford it I would move there.

      I’m going to my boyfriend’s company Christmas dinner this weekend. It will be boring, but I’ve met some of his co-workers before, so it shouldn’t be TOO awkward. I have the hardest time when I don’t know anyone at all. I feel like some of the parties I’m invited to this year wouldn’t be all that bad if my ex-friend group wasn’t going to be there. It’s so funny, when I actually know people I am comfortable around them. I’m loud and talkative and can have a good time. When I’m uncomfortable (for whatever reason) or don’t know many people I am like a totally different person.

      If you ever want to chat about any of it, I’m always here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree I hate being in the company of people I don’t know. I absolutely suck at “small talk”, so I tend to drink myself into a less frantic frame of mind. Think of Raj in the first seasons of “Big Bang Theory”. I’ve only met a few of my wife’s co-workers (it’s a law firm and I think Shakespear was right – “Kill all the lawyers first!”). Feel free to find me on Twitter or Facebook (beachdaze on both). Always happy to waste time at work! Peace, B

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally understand what you’re getting at. I hate going to social functions alone or when I barely know people. And I hate when I don’t know what’s expected of me at social situations. I’m normally pretty good at BSing my way through social situations but I get super anxious about it and I hate doing it. I find being with other people I’m comfortable with helps, so I always try to bring someone with me. But sometimes that isn’t possible, which sucks and I generally just don’t go to those events which sucks because I want to go normally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, I hear ya. I am always amazed by those people who are just instantly comfortable in social situations. It takes so much effort and over-thinking on my part just to even show up half the time. It can be so frustrating.

      Liked by 1 person

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