Friday, February 4, 2011

February Song*

This has been a start/stop post, albeit mostly in my head.**  I know that my general tendency to blunder willy-nilly into an issue like a bull in a china shop is part of my charm***, but there are times when I really want to write about something and can't find a good way to approach it.

This is one of those times, and it's frustrating; however, I've often found that when in doubt, it doesn't hurt to tell a story.

So, a story.


I'm standing in my room, staring into the closet. I have tried on five different shirts and they are piled in a heap on the bed. Shirt number six is also not working for me. I need to leave for the party in an hour and I know I won't be ready.

The problem is not the shirts.

This has been brewing for days. It's going to be a big party, and I will know some people there, but not very many. It's also going to be incredibly fun -- my friend who is the hostess and who invited me has a knack for putting people together and having crazy, delightful gatherings -- but for the last few days, thinking about going has made me intensely uncomfortable, as though my skin doesn't fit properly.

But I said I'd go, I keep telling myself. It will be fun! I like fun! It's true, I do like fun and I know that it will be fun. I also know that I'm in my sixth shirt and I am diving back into my closet so I can change again and right now, I'm not anywhere close to having fun. I am miserable, and the muscles as the base of my neck are forming into a hard knot, as they do when I get tense and stressed. I feel jittery, as though I've had 17 espressos. All of the colours in the room seem to bright.

I give up looking for a shirt and pull out my sweatpants. Not only will I not be going out tonight, I will not be going out tomorrow. Or the next day. I will call the hostess and make an excuse -- car trouble, illness, something -- and then spend at least a week avoiding everyone I know because I have stepped so far out of my comfort levels that it's going to take me a while to creep back to where I usually feel at ease.

As I change into my most comfortable clothes I wonder why no one else ever feels like this, and I wonder if I'll feel this way forever.


It turned out that it wasn't just me, and it wouldn't last forever. But I remember how it felt. I know that several people have emailed me when I post about being depressed, and many of you have mentioned some form of social anxiety. While I've never been able to overcome my innate "OH MY GOD I AM SUCH A DORK" because, well, Oh my GOD, I AM such a dork, I have found that I (mostly) am able to get over the (much more occasional) paralyzing fear of leaving the house.

I haven't done it by myself -- the progress I made was mostly a result of very persistent (some might say pesky -- sometimes it felt that way) people who refused to go away. When I closed the door? One of them would knock until I let them in. "Come outside," they'd say. "There are things to do out here." Eventually, I would listen and it turned out they were right. 

I later found that instead of wringing my hands in stress and shame, I could use them -- by knocking on a door. By offering a hand up.

Or by writing a little story in the hopes that it might make someone else's day better.


**despite the fact that these seem like random and chatty musings, I do try to plan them out a bit, as a rule, so I have an idea of where they're going to go, though I sometimes stray wildly from the original plan.

***Did I just claim to have charm? HAHAHAHAHA

**** You know who you are.

1 comment:

  1. Mission accomplished, I'd say. I do feel better, knowing I'm not alone. I've run through the shirt scenario so many times. Things have gotten kind of bad in the social anxiety department lately, but I'm working on it. It is hard, because I think most people are extroverts and they have a hard time understanding this feeling. You, and your writing, and your incredible ability to express exactly what I (and I suspect others) am/are feeling, are such a gift. I'm so happy I found your blog.