Here’s the thing about social anxiety

So, here’s the thing about social anxiety. It bites you in the ass when you least expect it.

At the end of a good day, you sit on the couch, or lay in bed, and you just want to die. Yeah, not because anything bad has happened, but because you’ve used up every ounce of your emotional energy, being around people, and you have nothing left in the tank.  And, if you’ve lived with this thing long enough, you talk to yourself, because you know you don’t really want to die, even though that’s how you in feel in this moment.

Introverts seem, at least in my experience, to be more prone to social anxiety than others. We joke about the world being too “peopley” but it’s not really funny. There are too many people, for us, out there in the world. People at the bank, at the grocery store, at work, on the street, friends, family members, associates.  There are just so many people.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I assume when you get home, after a busy day, you watch a bit of television, you read a book, or maybe take a nice hot bath. Ahhh, the strain of the day washes away, and you go to bed and sleep.

Someone like me, none of those things work, although we do them, knowing they help somewhat.  We get home, after a busy day, and have nothing left to give. To our kids, to our spouse, to our friends, to our self. We’re done.

So, when you ask about getting together. And here’s another thing, we like our friends, we even sometimes like meeting new people. But when you suggest we meet somewhere new, even if it’s at your house, that just puts added strain on us. If we say “let’s meet for a drink”, don’t suggest we meet for supper, or go to a movie. A drink is all we’re up for. Leaving the house to go meet you takes energy, even if it’s something we really want to do. Going to a new place takes energy. Doing something beyond what we’ve offered, takes energy. And we run out of energy faster than you do. That’s just the way it is. The way we are.

We worry about all kinds of shit. We worry we’ll get lost on our way to somewhere. We worry, if we realize we’re arriving at your house earlier than was agreed upon, that you won’t want us there.  Even when we know you love us, we worry you get tired of us.  We have no real sense of what it’s like to be like you. To be at ease being around others, to assume people like us, to enjoy doing things, going places.

We do enjoy things, we do go places, we do have friends, but we exhaust quickly.  Conversations, even good ones, use us up. Conversations that are banal, frustrate us, because those too use up our energy and not for a good cause.

So, we weight everything for its value to us.  And a lot of time, we say “no” and we need others to respect that and agree that another day, another time, you’ll still be around and open to meet up.  But often, we forget to weigh the events, the responsibilities, the expectations of a day.  A day that can be as simple as going to work and going to a concert with you.  Because, you know, just like you, our days sometimes get out of our control. A child gets sick, the boss wants us to stay an hour late, it’s pouring rain or freezing cold, the car breaks down and we have to deal with roadside assistance and a mechanic and ride the bus home or be in a taxi.  All those extra people. Boom! We’re done.  Just. Done.

And then, of course, there’s the part of social anxiety that makes going somewhere new terrifying. Or even just going somewhere, terrifying.  We remind our self we’ve done it before, we know the route, we’ll be fine.  And our brain says, do. not. do. this.  The world never quite feels safe to us.  Friendships never 100% trustworthy.  Acceptance never to be fully relied on.  Shit happens. All the time.  Life paralyzes us. Really, it does.

I have a good life. I love my life. I’m a happy woman. I’m a serious introvert with social anxiety and somedays, it bites me in the ass.

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