Saturday, April 27, 2013

On Social Anxiety

There's a party happening tonight and I'm invited.

Oh Saturday night... My media consumption has led me to believe that Friday/Saturday nights are the time to go out and have wild social gatherings with music, alcohol, and teaming up with a "wingman" for more one-on-one social interaction later on that night with someone I've just met. There's also this sort of not-so-subtle undertone that if you're indoors by yourself on these particular nights then you're a bit sad. Yeah... not my thing.

But alas, sometimes people end up liking me enough to try and take me away from my comfort zone and into loud places with lots of strangers on the pretense of "birthdays" or "I'm leaving the country and this is the last we'll see each other for at least half a year". Crazy, I know. I guess there's something appealing about my personality that people seem to realise is great in a normal environment but doesn't translate well into ENVIRONMENTS WHERE EVERYONE IS COMPETING TO BE HEARD. So now I have to deal with going places - places I've most likely never been before (there's just so many places to be on a Friday/Saturday night. It's like they're being grown like daisies in a garden that smells a bit more than faintly of beer and vodka shots) which is an added bit of stress because I often (quite easily) get lost. My sense of direction has firmly developed around the idea that I remain stationary.

The problem is people aren't going to stop liking me and inviting me places for birthdays, even if I constantly decline their invitations, because for the other 364 days of the year in our friendship I'm pretty fine to interact with. It's just when it comes to parties I get stressed out. I like one-on-one interaction where I can talk to a person without having to yell over some live one-man cover band that (to his credit) sings things 10+ years old so he can ride the warm waves of nostalgia that he gets back from the audience. Or worse, someone who confuses speed with proficiency and energy with entertainment. Admittedly I am more fine with more familiar faces around me so will gladly go to house parties hosted by highschool friends. It's the parties in pubs that make me panic.

Why... *melts into an anxious puddle on the floor* Pubs are intimidating. They just are. I'm not an anti-social person. I love hanging out with people, interacting with everyone, and crowds aren't an issue. When I go to convention centres the crowds can get so packed that I'm slowly shuffling with people bumping into me from every direction and I'm fine. I also end up talking to 30 different people I know and several I don't just by pure chance.

But pubs are not my friend. There's security within a person's home. You know that, whoever appears, is friend not foe. There's always a corner you can stand in and not be bothered as you judge the playlist (but never tamper with it because that's really rude. Seriously guys. Don't do that. Especially mid-song. That's slap worthy, I was listening to that). There's no social obligations that I don't already understand that I need to do and all that is required to enter is a simple knock on the door. No one checks your ID, there's no awkward standing around uncomfortably scanning the horizon of heads to discover where your band of friends are, there's just a house and it's nice and relaxing. Your voice does not get soar by the end of the night which is also a bonus and there's no risk of running into drunkards in the streets ready to fight.

But I need to go out sometimes... and I might even want to go willingly. After all, some people do end up leaving the country for who knows how long and you need to wish them goodbye. Alternatively they could be an old friend you see once a year at most due to distance. So getting anxious every time I need to leave the door on an adventure somewhere that is loud and unfamiliar won't do.

I'm forcing myself to go tonight because I can think of no better way to tackle this other than head on. Screw being scared! Not to say being scared is for wimps, we all get scared every now and then, (like at all those deadly snakes that live in Australia, all the deadly mammals that live in Australia, or all the deadly spiders than live in Australia. Thank goodness I live in... oh wait) but fear is not what controls us... well, sometimes it does, but not always! The water is always coldest when you're slowly edging in the pool and even though you're always angry whenever that one annoying friend pushes you all the way in when you weren't expecting it you quickly forget your grievances because you get used to the cold. Fear is like swimming, once you dive in and immerse yourself you realise it wasn't as bad as you expected (this does not work if your fear is of drowning because you can't swim... if this is the case then try to think of a different analogy). So I may be uncomfortable now as I sit in front of a computer typing a lengthy blog post to procrastinate going to this party, but I know once I'm there and I familiarise myself with this new place and the new people I'll be OK.

Perhaps I'll even make a new friend.

Perhaps I'll get ganged up on and mugged by 3 deadly snakes, a redback spider, and a kangaroo (those things have mean right hooks) and lose all my money.

Only one way to find out!

*Deep breath*. Time to walk out that door.

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