Beating back fear…or at least attempting to.

I have mentioned that I have a touch of social anxiety.  It seems to manifest in some of the oddest ways.  Some of my reactions seem quite appropriate when taking it into account:  I hate and fear parties and I freak out with public speaking.  These are normal social anxieties taken to an extreme.  But, some of what I consider a little odd:

1. Once I am out of the apartment, I have to do anything I want to get done because once I’m home…there is no more going out unless I am forced to.  And getting out to begin with is difficult enough.  That’s why I almost always need to go grocery shopping (and I like grocery shopping).

2. I hate to go any place unfamliar.  So if I am taking myself to dinner, I stick to the chains.  Even when I have been to a restaurant before, I have a hard time if it has been a long time.  This also translates to not going downtown if I can avoid it.  For the most part, I have always lived north of downtown. 

So tonight, I might be going out with a friend.  She and I haven’t been talking much lately and she contacted me to reconnect.  And the idea is wonderful and makes me smile.  But she told me it would really be cool because we are close to downtown.  And I can’t argue since I am near four of the major highways, with quick access to the fifth.  But.

The whole concept of going downtown freaks me the hell out.  So I messaged her saying I got off at nine and was still up for getting together.  I asked her if there was someplace she was thinking of, but she hasn’t messaged back.  I am so tempted to not message her, and then tell her I thought she cancelled when she didn’t message again.  Bad BB!

So I am off shortly and will message her to find out what she wants to do.  I am pretty sure.

Damn this being social is hard.  Making new friends (or making closer friends) is a nasty bitch.  Sigh.

[The above draft was written 4/11.  I just found it and thought it would be cool for all of you to see the thought process that I went through to that point, then tell you what happened and what I was thinking after that.]

So after I got offline, I texted my friend and waited for a response in the parking lot.  I could have gone home, but I knew that there was no way I would go back out if that hapened.  So she sent me the name of where she wanted to meet.  First, I couldn’t get my phone to tell me where it was based on the name, so I asked her for the address.  She sent that too me and I couldn’t get my phone to tell me where it was because the maps and GPS decided to be idiots.  I figured it was due to where I work.  (Cell phones do very strange things around here.)  I went to a clear area and finally go the info I needed and proceeded on my way.

Here I am trying to follow the directions to an area of town I never drive to.  I am so horribly tempted to say I couldn’t find it and skip, but…I told her I would meet her there.  So I get there and am looking around to find her.  I am leery about getting out of my car because I am dressed up because we had a thing at work.  Since this is central Austin, you are seeing students and others who are looking way more laid back than I am usually, let alone now.  I finally get the courage to get out of the car and start walking toward the restaurant/coffee shop.  She spotted me before I got there.  Which is good because I hate the whole, “I’m waiting for someone,” excuse that makes me feel like a freak for not going all the way in.

She and I had a great time.  We have a lot in common and it was great fun.

But the anxiety leading up to it wasn’t a whole lot of fun.  And the number of times I almost turned around and went hom….not a pretty number.  But I did make it out.

It’s interesting looking back, though.  I remember all of these feelings, but they are once removed.  They seem sort of pale and pastel-like.  But the thought of going downtown to the same place (which I really liked, btw) to meet a friend, and the fears become sharp and bright all of a sudden.  Not as much as the first time, I am sure, but still sharp and bright all the same.So I don’t know how much exposure has to do with my social anxiety.  I do know that I can go to a Chili’s or Applebee’s pretty much anywhere and be alright.  Put me at an unfamiliar restaurant or place with one of my best friends and I am okay.  But put me at a brand new place with someone that is becoming a friend or putting me at a brand new place by myself…sheer terror.

So I guess I just have to take it one step at a time.

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~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on April 24, 2012.

8 Responses to “Beating back fear…or at least attempting to.”

  1. it looks to me like you have come a long way baby lol. I have that problem only much worse. But mine has gotten better also through the years. I hate it though. When I come face to face with someone I am not used to talking to, I try not to make eye contact and a lot of times my voice gets screwed up and I say my words wrong or I choke. But that is getting better. I can carry on a conversation with the check out person now, ect. lol. I haven’t any friends because of it but I am not too upset about that most of the time lol 😉 have a great day girl!!!

    • I am very lucky (and aware of that fact) that my fears are not much worse than they are. I am glad that yours is getting easier for you to handle. [I am perfectly aware that sometimes stuff stays the same but appears better because we have learned to work through it or around it.] Hope your day is wonderful.

  2. Can totally relate. I think the fear of unfamiliar places is more agoraphobia, so that coupled with social anxiety is a real double whammy. You did so well to meet your friend.

    I must admit I’m getting worse about going to new places, particularly travelling too. It’s always worth it when I get there, but the anxiety I get over going to new places is horrendous.

    Meeting friends I’m getting better at, but I’m fairly vocal about where I will or won’t meet them! Luckily I’m fairly familiar with most of the fun places in our city, but if they want to travel further afield I freak out! I don’t tell them that! I just keep schtum and hope they won’t notice my sweating, shaking, etc!

    Have a good day and thanks for sharing.

    Rachel

    • I would love to travel alone, but I am not sure at this point in my life whether I would actually be capable of doing it. Part of the reason I look at singles trips, cruises, etc is because at least I would have some sort of structered activities around others.

      As for where I live, it’s actually pretty sad. I live in the Music Capital of the US/World (depending who you ask) and have no real idea where to go or what to see. And I have lived here over 10 years. 😦

      I am much more comfortable in a new place if I am with someone that is familiar to me. Luckily, I have good friends who are willing to understand that and work with me. 🙂

      Thank you for commenting!

  3. I relate to this a lot. When I’m feeling good I’m very social, but if I’m feeling out of sorts, going to new places or going out with new people can seem so daunting.

    I often think the best nights are those you didn’t plan or when you go expecting it to be a difficult time. I’m glad you enjoyed your time with your friend.

    I think it was a really good idea to write the post before & after to get the different perspectives too.

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