What It's Like

An example:  My husband's work barbecue last weekend

I agonized about it for weeks. I had never met his coworkers (it's a new job for him) and I kept thinking that I was going to give everyone a bad impression and screw up my husband's work opportunities. (Yes really, as if I have any effect on his career!  Ridiculous right! )  These thoughts abnormally consumed much of my time.

The day of the barbecue I must have changed outfits at least five times.  Interestingly enough, I ended up with the first outfit I tried on.  I obsessed over every detail - my makeup, hair, fragrance, accessories, etc.  (In day to day life I'm pretty low maintenance so this is unusual.)  In the car on they way to the gathering, I kept fretting and worrying that I would have nothing interesting to talk about.  I kept thinking that I would reflect poorly on my husband.   I feared the judgments of his coworkers.  

When I got to the barbecue I was acutely aware of everyone around me.  I was hyper-vigilant to ever nuance of their responses to me.  I was very self-conscious and over-analysed every interaction. 

After the event, I felt exhausted.  In fact, I felt exhausted the whole weekend.  I felt like I had run a marathon.  

Interestingly, after the event a couple of my husband's coworkers told him how much they enjoyed my company.  In their words the consensus was that I was charming, sweet and beautiful.  Apparently, they thought he's a very lucky man.  So all my worries were for nothing right?  So you would think I would learn from this.  NO.  

This weekend I went through the exact same thing for my niece's going away party.  I was the only family member invited by a surprise party thrown by her peers.  I was so nervous fearing that I would let her down because her friends would not like me. I felt a paralyzing, overwhelming anxiety.  However, at the party a couple of her friends kept teasing my niece and I that we were lying about me being her Aunt and that I was in fact her older, illegitimate sister.  I received many other compliments as well.  On the way home my husband says to me (knowing that I'm so insecure) "See, everyone always loves you".  I say, "Oh, they were just polite." 

The point is social anxiety is not based on reality.  It is a neurotic, obsessive, irrational fear that can be debilitating and it effects people you probably have no idea that have it!!!  Yes, I generally come across as outgoing and fun and sometimes I really am.  But sometimes it's just an act.  So you never know how people really feel.  
lagatta lagatta
46-50, F
7 Responses Sep 26, 2011

I know how you feel. I used to drink a modicum of beer to deal with it. It's a drug, like any other drug but it helps you to get through these difficult periods.

Not exactly the best solution. Read my post about being an alcoholic. lol

Alcohol, like any drug, be it tranquilizers, pain pills, etc. can and does lead to dependency. But it is a rational short term solution. It's beats going through Hell, emotionally. I would suggest a shot or 2 of Vodka, perhaps in orange juice or tomato juice. I'm 69 and I'm not a Alcoholic. I do not need it any more. I enjoy my beer, go to bed and that's it. Not everyone becomes an alcoholic.Those were difficult times for me and it helped me to get through it. If you went to a Dr. he'd give you a drug. Alcohol is no different. It's a drug. It allows you to drop your inhibitions and function more normally. But you have to know your limitations and not over do it, otherwise it will quite apparent that you are drunk:)

Awww...Social, you always make me smile. That's why you are my best friend here on EP.. Not only are you insightful, supportive and kind but you are also funny. Anyone who can make me laugh is in my good books!! And yes, I think I would have very successful career writing about my life as a crazy person!!! LOL Luv ya! :)

Aw, you're making me blush. But seriously, I'm just being a good friend by pointing out the good and true things about yourself that you don't see. Oh, and when you do publish your book, I hope to get a free autographed copy ;)

"In their words the consensus was that I was charming, sweet and beautiful." And you're surprised by this? This is what myself and so many others have been telling you all along. And your husband really is a lucky man to be able to call you his wife. <br />
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The fact that out of all the people here, you're my best friend should tell you something about the caliber of your character. <br />
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I know it sounds like a tired cliche, but sometimes all you have to do is be yourself. Lagatta is a wonderful person and she can never go wrong when she is herself. <br />
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I have to admit though, that I do get nervous around people that I am trying to impress like a boss or a girl that I may be interested in. But around everyone else, I really don't care. People usually know within the first five minutes if they are going to like me or not and if they do then that's great but if they don't then they can keep walking. <br />
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ps. You are very good writer, maybe you should write a book some day. You can write about your career as a "crazy person," LOL!!! ;)

@Luna, I had to work really hard at it. In many ways I actually am quite outgoing but I do suffer from really bad social anxiety at other times. You can do it too if you put your mind to it but in the end who cares, right? What does it really matter how we come across to other people. The important thing is that we are happy and acting in a way that we are proud of.

I understand how you feel cuz I experience the same thing, but the difference is the impression people get from you is a good one in some how you manage to show that outgoing or extroverted personality but on the inside is a totally different thing at least is something good at the end, I can't even do that most of the time I blackout and don't know what to say so my impression at first is not quite as pleasant as yours =/

Me too...me too. (sigh) When will I possibly be able to present myself without all the anxiety and awkwardness?

I think a lot of people feel uncomfortable in large social functions in particular if they don't know many people at the function but the people all know each other. I think with me It's the intensity of my fear that gets to me. I need to learn to control it because it's really quite exhausting. And I need to stop caring what people think about me.

I agree. Getting ready to face a social event is always 10 times worse then the actual thing..I'd rather not go then put up with the anxiety within.