Anxiety / Coping Strategies

Social Anxiety Nightmare: The Networking Event

I am not joking when I say that I nearly ran out of the room. As each person in the circle stood to speak, inevitability crept closer. One by one, each person in the room shared their business name and information and a little something about their current projects.

While I sat there wishing for an invisibility cloak. What happened to me? I used to fake it so well! Frustrating. 

When it came to my turn I did stand. I did speak. I did not die. But I still wanted to run out of the room. The amount of effort that I had to expend in order to behave in a socially acceptable way was nearly dizzying.

Now, I’m thinking. Alone. In my silent, office, where nobody but me is allowed to be: I used to be good at faking it. Does there come a point where, after years of therapy and self-correction you don’t have to fake it anymore? And when, after years of faking it and therapy you realize that you just don’t have it in you to fake it anymore…what then?

I don’t want to expend energy anymore, on social appropriateness. When I am in public places, I don’t really want to talk to people (unless I see a way that I can help someone…). Usually, people go to therapy to learn how to get around these problems, to learn to be more able to cope with their social anxiety. Well I don’t want to cope anymore. I don’t want to deal with other human beings in unfamiliar social situations ever again. I KNOW what I can do to trick myself into it, and I just don’t want to do it anymore.

Does this mean I’m stepping forward, or backward in my quest for mental health? We should seek treatment for help in dealing with the issues that impair us and make it difficult to function. I don’t want to function anymore because I don’t even want to be in the situation in the first place.

I don’t want to be obligated to say hello, or goodbye, or make small talk, or smile. I am just barely able to convince myself to care enough to do these things in a workplace with other people.

There was nothing wrong with this networking event, nothing at all. I was just unprepared and unwilling to make myself a social creature.

I keep reasoning it out for myself this way: Listen to the inner voice that’s telling me to avoid these situations, so that I will have more energy and be willing to do it only when I “hate” to.

I can agree to that for now.

While I think it out a little more.


2 thoughts on “Social Anxiety Nightmare: The Networking Event

  1. While I was reading this I felt something, looked over, and there my left fist was, raised in agreement!
    I feel this way all the time and I recently accepted a job that requires a level of social interaction that drains me nearly everyday…It’s comforting to know the aversion exists in other people, especially when everyone in the room seems be SO comfortable with these unnatural displays of occupational fellowship (“let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves” or “find a partner and discuss this point” and the like…ugh) and I feel like I must be the only one who wants to crawl under the table when the microphone is headed my way…

    • To add comedy to anxiety, then people tell me that I seem so comfortable. Great, at least I know I’m good at faking it when I’m literally restraining myself from running out of the room.

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