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.