What does social anxiety feel like?
For me, it’s a huge weight on my chest and I want to go hide. It’s difficult to regulate my breathing, which makes my uneasiness more difficult to hide so that I seem somewhat normal.
It’s feeling like there are people everywhere, like the walls are closing in on me from all sides.
I’m hyper aware, which means when someone tries to talk to me, all the voices in the background, the sounds of the environment I’m in, etc. all sound ridiculously loud and bleed together and overlap with the voice of the person I’m trying to hear. That plus not being able to hear all that well to begin with creates a bit of a clusterfuck.
It’s a struggle to find my bearing and a struggle to not look like a freak.
That was last night at my baby brother’s graduation party.
And while I typically have some mixed drinks that are heavy on the alcohol to ward those feelings off a bit, I had to wait a few hours. The kiddos were there for the first part, and I don’t like to drink around the kids (I may have one alcoholic beverage with a normal amount of liquor in it, but that’s it), so I waited for my husband to run them over to his moms. And that wait was painful.
This party wasn’t something I was looking forward to, as I knew there would be a lot of people present. My brother’s Facebook Events page listed almost 20 people.
Oh no. Try closer to 50 people (yes, I counted).
Even though this was supposed to be his graduation party with 20 people (most of whom I know and like, since my brother and I share mostly the same circle of friends), it more than doubled because my dad decided to make it his party to show off his new house as well. (This rather upset my brother, who found out after a lot of people that he didn’t know started showing up. “I don’t know more than half of the people here. How is this for me?”)
But back on track. Do you know what babies are? Especially babies as adorable as Baby Girl?
About 45 minutes into it, my husband noticed my discomfort and suggested we go inside for a bit. That would’ve been great, except for 8 other people following us inside to talk.
After my best friend arrived a couple hours later, that helped matters a little. She gets me and knows how I feel in social situations where there are 10 people, let alone 50. Then my husband took the kids over to his mom’s and I could finally have my rum. That helped greatly.
I never got comfortable enough to go around and mingle, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to come out of my skin at least. My friend and our husbands picked a corner of the deck to chat at and my brother and other people drifted in and out from that spot.
One guy who didn’t know anyone there (he came with his parents) sat down beside me and tried to make small talk. I could sense that he was uncomfortable, but he so picked the wrong person to help with that. I felt bad for him, but outside of telling him that my bottle of rum was in the freezer, I was at a loss for words.
By the end of the night, I was able to say that I had fun after I got comfortable. It was very nice to hang out with my brother again. He told me that he had missed me (he has been living in the city he finished college in the past two years, so we haven’t been seeing each other that often), and we made plans to hang out a lot this summer. Of my siblings, he’s the only one I’m close to, and outside of being on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as social stuff goes, he and I are two peas in a pod.
As for the social anxiety…I hate it. So much. Of the other anxiety issues I have, this one makes the least sense. Even though I’ve always been a quiet person, I wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I was comfortable enough that I could chat away with other kids in high school, a time when I wasn’t a social freak and did well enough in that area to win any stupid little popularity contest that I participated in. But around the time that I was 19 or 20, that disappeared.