Over the weekend, I had plans to meet my friend at a hipster restaurant/bar. From what I can tell, the breakdown of this establishment is 80% bar and 20% restaurant…especially on the weekends. My friend was coming from her haircut appointment and I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to get there when she expected. Still, I arrived on time. I was already inexplicably nervous but I walked into the place and immediately had this horrible anxious feeling take over. The bar was crowded and all the people I passed were cooler than me, and they all seemed so relaxed and friendly, I definitely didn’t fit in. The snippets of conversation I overheard were so easy and flowing, which made my swelling awkwardness feel even more awkward. I confirmed that my friend had yet to arrive and then set my eyes on the nearest exit. I speed-walked back to my car and closed myself in and felt so relieved to be alone and inside.
I texted my friend, “ let me know when you are here AND parked.” I decided I wouldn’t get out of my car until I saw her. In an attempt to avoid my feelings, I checked a few emails on my phone. Eventually I got the text. Her hairdresser was about to put her under one of those globe hairdryers when she asked the time and realized she was late. She arrived with a head of wet hair and we walked into the place together.
It’s still early in our friendship and we don’t really know each other all that well, but I revealed my social anxiety situation anyway. She acknowledged it minimally and gracefully. We walked toward the bar and I kinda wanted her to hold my hand, but that’s unusual for adult women and apparently just the thought of doing something weird is also anxiety producing. I guess that one makes sense.
We got to the bar and lucky for me, my friend had enough confidence and ease for us both. We found a place to sit and then went up to the counter to order, but then she had to pee. She gave me her drink order but then I wanted to order food and she hadn’t said anything about food. In a mess of uncertainty I kept letting people go in front of me hoping that she would pee faster and come out and hold my hand while I attempted to order. When she finally came out I again confessed that difficulty making decisions appears to come with this particular attack of anxiety. I was hoping that my honesty and vulnerability would be endearing instead of annoying, and then I asked if she could she help me decide between ‘dal puppies’ for $4 and ‘elegant stoner snack’ For $6 because I couldn’t seem to do it on my own.
I mention all of this because as much as I’d love to have a really consistently smooth and together disposition, it just isn’t always that way. There’s a whole range of emotions and experiences that still come up even with all the yoga practice I do and the efforts I make. I’m glad to have some tools to help with this anxiety thing— proactive things I can do for balance and self-care. I can eat cooked veggies instead of raw. I can oil my body and my head with sesame oil before I bathe. I can avoid things like caffeine and too little sleep. I can breathe with long exhales. I can continue with a yoga and meditation practice that connects me to grounding and stability and gives me time to reflect on where this anxiety is coming from. A daily dose in this direction is a good antidote, even if it isn’t fool proof.
On that night, once I sat down with my friend and we started talking my anxiety slowly waned. I was happy to be there with her. We laughed a lot and in the middle of a particularly funny topic, a handsome stranger wandered over to our table to chat it up. A little after that, two of my friends coincidentally appeared. They joined us at our table and I had the feeling of being a part of something, of being connected and loved and I could feel all the love I have for these 3 wonderful women… even the courageous stranger who came up to flirt. Connection also helps with anxiety.