I know that sounds like a contradiction.
I enjoy being around people. I enjoy laughing and hanging out and being around others.
But the problem lies in the actually getting to that point. It takes a lot for me to get over my anxiety to actually get me out the door.
Just recently, a girl I went to high school with happened to relocate down to Georgia from my home state. And she happened to wind up around the block from me. I was extremely stoked.
‘Wow. A real live non internet friend. One that I can get drinks with and go out with and take a break from mommy life with. This is great.’
And we talked and chatted and I was excited for her arrival.
Until she actually moved down here.
My phone rang.
Why is she calling me? Are we on that level? What do I say?
I immediately felt bad as soon as it stopped ringing. What the hell was I afraid of? Why was it so hard to do something that made me feel the least bit uncomfortable? I then hopped right on Facebook messenger, our normal comfy way of communicating, and came up with some excuse as to why I couldn’t answer. She said she was near my house and wanted to see if the kids wanted to play. That’s it. Just a friendly spontaneous playdate. Not the end of civilization as we know it.
Damn you, anxiety. You’re making a liar out of me. The dog wasn’t down the street and you missed the call. You were staring at your screen waiting for it to stop ringing.
I’ve always been like this. I needed ample time to prepare and control my anxious feelings and worries of others judging me. I don’t know why I assume people are judging. I was constantly making lists and excuses and stories up to why I couldn’t get out of my comfort zone. Explanations in my head for why stepping out side of it would lead to my social death.
It was crippling at times.
And no one believes me when I say I have anxiety. That I’ve suffered with it for years.
“You’re so friendly and outgoing and funny and easy to get along with. That’s impossible.”
Oh honey, come hang out with me before I have to go to any social outing where I am outside my comfort zone. You’ll witness it. While you’re at it, bring the Xanax.
And I am a natural born leader. I enjoy parties. I’m loud and friendly.
I am a flake. I am awkward. I hate surprises.
A walking contradiction, really.
I was lonely. I was in a new state. I was either doing work or with my kids and that was it. I needed to get out of my comfort zone. As easy and familiar as it was to stay in that bubble of caution, it was quite literally hindering my growth. My kids don’t want to talk to me about wine and carbs and the gym. Either does my cat, trust me, I’ve tried. Little bitch.
So the next week, this new friend tried again. She didn’t give up hope on making our friendship work. She asked me to come hang out with her while her kids were out of town. And we were having a great time. And then she sneak attacked me with, “We’re going to go to a social networking event for women. Tonight. Get ready.”
Slow your roll, homie-what? No. I’m not prepared for this. How can I sneak out of her house when shes not looking? I’ll say a squirrel bit me and I had to go home. Shut up Shelby, Get your shit together.
I finally decided to face my fears of last minute plans. Let go of my fear of judgement. I had to just get over my own bullshit.
“Okay, Let’s fucking do this. Where’s the wine? ”
We went. And we had a blast. We talked for hours and laughed. We talked like we had known each other for years. I even peed in front of her after too much wine. If that doesn’t say friendship, I don’t know what does.
After the night was over, I went home back to my comfy bubble. I felt sad. How much had I missed out on in the past because I was uncomfortable? Because I refused to face my anxious fears? How long had I been letting my own ridiculous notions of others perceptions of me hinder my growth?
Looking back, every time I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone-whether forced or on my own doing-I’ve had a positive experience. Not once did I say, ” I really regret doing this.” I have however regretted when I stayed back- held back.
I am not saying the anxious Shelby will ever go away. She needs to be nudged and pushed into new situations all the time.
Take for instance this social media world. I am anxious and nervous and apprehensive with every post. But every time I put my heart out there, I am glad I did. Because the truth is, we all have our things. Our issues. Our quirks. And sometimes it takes seeing that other people are kinda like you to be more okay with that.
So here’s to all my anxious extroverts. I’m here for you if you ever need someone to talk to. (Just make sure it’s an email. Or a text. No phone calls. Don’t work me up like that.)
Originally posted 2016-01-28 14:22:07.