Dancing with one of my Demons.

I have been invited to an social event, that I am really looking forward to attending. From what I am able to gather, there will be a larger number of people attending... At least a MUCH larger number than I am accustomed to.
There is a potential for a few people I know to be there. Some I know pretty well, others I have not talked to in quite a few years. Realistically speaking... The number of people there that I REALLY want to see hovers around 4 or 5.
Normally, this would be not be too much of a problem, as I would have my wife there to help "ground" me, and give me someone to focus on when the "going gets really tough", but in this case she is unable to attend, and I'll be flying solo.
Going get's tough? What are you talking about?? It's a PARTY!
Well... Yes, it is a party... and it's a party for a person who is very important to me... So missing it is NOT an option. But I am already getting that all to familiar nervous feeling. It is a feeling that I understand is irrational, but yet seems to be just beyond my control and ability to turn off.
Yup... It's my old friend "Social Anxiety".
That old friend that I (from time to time) am forced to confront. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of dealing with this, let me share a few personal expectations I have - just to give you a "flavor".
First off... I do not suffer with a DEBILITATING case of Social Anxiety. It is just strong enough to make me uncomfortable, cause my mind to ramble to itself at a feverish pace (the "voices in my head"), give me heartburn (Hello there Shatzki Ring, my little friend), make my palms sweat (by the way... that's why I did not shake your hand), and feel like I am going to pee my pants (I won't of course.. Seeing that another one of the demons I dance with is Paruresis).
I expect that I will get to the party, and will seek out the guest of honor (and in this case, the host). I will be crawling out of my skin until I meet up with them. It's just a weird thing about me, and hard to explain. I am uncomfortable in other people's houses. Plain. And. Simple. Until they know I am there, and I know that they know that I am there, I will not be able to relax.
This will undoubtedly be followed with a NORAD like scan of the attendees, attempting to locate the few I expect will be there (that provide me a level of comfort with that will ease some of my anxiety), while locating (and keeping track of) pockets of folks that I am unfamiliar with, and (as embarrassing as this is to admit) avoid.
Side note. Preliminary apologies to those familiar folks that feel like I am being clinging. I am. I will not be offended if you get sick of me and walk away. I understand... I am just that desperate to maintain my sanity.
I expect to feel what I can only describe as a "gravitational pull" towards that quiet chair in the corner. You know, the chair that is placed such that it is difficult to get "too comfortable" talking to whomever is in the chair. Difficult, but not impossible. It's the chair that usually sits empty because... well, because most folks at the party will be there to "mingle". I may look lonely there, but it's O.K. Really! It will be the spot that helps relax me (just a wee bit), and lets me "people watch".
I DO like "people watching". If only I could be a "fly on the wall"...
When it comes time to visit with the guest of honor (the part I look forward to the most) - I WILL enjoy myself, and things will be looking up. The pleasure of this person's company will overshadow all the anxiety I will be feeling. I can not allow myself to relax too much though. I need to remind myself not to be to clingy (see above). The guest of honor is really an outgoing people person, and they will want to (and should) be moving around the crowd.
The evening's anxiety will continue past the time I leave the party, and (don't ask me why) I will not feel relaxed until I am back in "familiar" territory...
Before you all write me off as a complete lunatic, let me assure you that I am NOT crazy (well, at least not "completely" crazy). This is a "recent" addition to the dysfunctional portion of me ("recent" as in the past 10-15 years or so), and I am still learning how to deal with it.
I used to enjoy "mingling". But somewhere along the road of life, something "interfered" with that portion of who I am. I (truthfully) suspect it has to do with the isolation from peers that having a large and busy family can bring. It may also have something to do with my job, and the environment I work in.
Fear not dear friends... There is hope. Since this is not a "chronic" condition, thankfully I am able to get out, meet with friends, and even meet and talk to new and interesting people. The whole evening will not be completely stressful. There will be periods of enjoyment throughout the evening, and I hope to see a close "long time friend" that I have not really seen in YEARS.
I think this is what may help me get over this touch of "Social Anxiety". Putting myself out there. Putting myself in those slightly uncomfortable situations, and forcing myself to relearn how to relax in large crowds of folks that I do not know well. A bit of the "Hair of the dog" if you will...
In the mean time... I'll be over in the corner, rocking in my seat, mumbling to myself in preparation for this event that (believe it or not) I am really looking forward to!


  1. True courage is not doing something without fear. It is being afraid and willingly doing it anyway.
    Be proud of yourself.

  2. David,
    You must separate work from your "home" life.
    Et tu, Brute?
    Just because you get the knife in the back (or someplace else) at work doesn't mean one has to act this way away from work!
    In my case, I am positive my reflux,heartburn, back spasms, sleep difficulty and headaches are all due to the switch to digital TV.
    R e l a x . . . .
    Jag shots and some cigars soon!

    - Co-worker


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