Social anxiety strikes again

leaves dewOver 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.

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2 thoughts on “Social anxiety strikes again

  1. Hi, Amanda. I have an observation; I’ll try to refrain from making it into a theory. We are as our consciousness is. And that’s how we are in the world. And how we are in the world has an effect on the world we are in. If we are wrapped up tight and doubting, everything around us seems to confirm that we are in an anxious situation – everybody in the bar is way cooler than we are. (btw, nobody’s cooler than you are, Amanda.) On the other hand, when we start to relax and enjoy our company, handsome strangers come around to flirt with us and good friends start to show up. I’ve noticed this correlation before, and I think this apparent interaction between us all at the level of consciousness is worth reflection. Anyway, as you know very well, (self)perception is a bitch. I have no doubt that you’re working on this in your yoga laboratory. Good post.

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