I was asked to be a speaker on a panel today. It’s something I’m asked to do from time to time, relating to my community events work. I arrived at the right place 15 minutes early. Everything went fine (well, there was also a really funny incident when I first arrived, I’ll tell you that story once I get to my maudlin little point about social anxiety). I sat in front of people, I didn’t feel very nervous, I was speaking to topics that are familiar and comfortable to me. I reconnected with some friends in the community who were there, who I love to see and to talk to.
As I walked away from the venue, all I could feel, was that I’d done something wrong.
There was just this slight sensation of…almost shame. Of knowing that I hadn’t done what I should, or that nothing about me and who I was in that room was quite right.
What a thing to walk around with. I don’t know where it comes from. It was definitely not based in reality. Is it chemical? Do I have some psychological tangle of threads to unknot from one another? I don’t know the answer. In my case, it could be all of the above, really.
I guess there are people who don’t feel that way. I said it out loud to a friend, afterwards and she said “oh yeah, I totally feel that way all the time”. But then…this friend and I have a lot in common in the anxiety department.
As my feelings became describable in words, as I walked away from the venue – I talked myself through all of the logic of the situation. I had done exactly what I was asked to do. I was more reserved than usual, but nobody’s perfect and it didn’t negatively impact the event. I was asked to come and be myself and talk about the assigned subject, and I did. Such a meddling sensation, anxiety.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I have to tell you the funny thing that happened when I first arrived. I arrived and the venue and walked into the lobby. The lady in charge of the venue was in a side room speaking to the group that I would be speaking to when she was done. Well I positioned myself so that she or anyone who looked down the hall could see me, but so that the audience could see me, so they would know that I was there (AND I WAS EARLY, I will have you know). I looked to my left and the theater doors were wide open. You could see that there was a set for an upcoming show onstage. I leaned my head in to peek – I did NOT step foot into the theater – and suddenly I hear the woman in charge of the venue, in the middle of her own speech, scream “DO NOT GO INTO THAT THEATER UNATTENDED”. I said okay. But I turned and looked – I swear to gawd, I did not go into the theater – I just looked into the theater again. She started yelling again – and uh, it tripped my ADHD tornado switch. It was a split second decision as to whether I was going to let-fly and embarrass myself and HER self, in front of a room full of people. I said “OH, I’M LEAVING” and I got myself outta there so fast. Because there were nice people who had invited me to be there and given me the opportunity to speak and promote my events so I made myself sit down on a curb in the parking lot.
Three of the nice people who had invited me there came out to make sure I was okay and that I wasn’t leaving. I assured them that I knew this lady was notoriously rude (truth) and that while it had made me really angry, I was just cooling off in the parking lot and would gladly come back in.
No, this has nothing to do with me feeling weird afterward. Ironic of course, that having a lady jump on me for doing nothing wrong and feeling like I did something wrong had nothing to do with the fact that I felt like I’d done something wrong. But this is how the weird little world of anxiety works 🙂 And I’ve felt this way so many times before. I’m just perpetually embarrassed to be myself – and yet I’m compulsively outspoken and can’t seem to be anything BUT myself. The embarrassment is more an existential turmoil sort of thing. Almost like being embarrassed to even exist. Because everything about existing is just so embarrassing.
I have so much more to blog about…but…I just can’t right now. I need to go focus myself on something else for a little while and take my mind off of the embarrassing fact of being alive.