Social Anxiety: Doesn’t always look like ya think it might.

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.


7 thoughts on “Social Anxiety: Doesn’t always look like ya think it might.

  1. Ugh. Yes. I have this exact same thing. I had to speak a few weeks ago and was asked to speak — they wanted me all that. It was a small thing but still. I wasn’t nervous, did what I was asked to do and I think did a fine job. After the event was over, I felt like I was gonna have a full on panic attack. I couldn’t socialize or be present in any conversation. I just kept replaying my (very brief) speech in my head looking and thinking it wasn’t what they wanted. All evidence was that it was completely fine.ugh. Yeah, it’s not fun. I very often feel that I am just wrong and a mess.

    As for the rude-ass woman. Omg! I get this a lot and sometimes I think it’s because I’m small and maybe look younger than I am. People tell me what to do like I’m twelve and I’m 39. It takes a lot for me to not go ape shit on them. I’m impressed that you didn’t rip her a new one. I think she might have deserved it.

    • Are we living parallel lives, lady? Because this: “I get this a lot and sometimes I think it’s because I’m small and maybe look younger than I am.” <—-is the story of my life. I am 39 but am frequently told that I look about 25. I have a cousin who jokes that I look 16 and calls me his 16-yr-old cousin. I have always struggled with being taken seriously – it's the reality of being female, petite and young-looking in our society, I guess. And I'll tell you what, there's been more than a few times when someone has ended up really regretting approaching me in a rude or condescending way due to those factors. But it sure is a pain in my ass! I always find the possibility that I looked young interesting though, as a justification – because in my mind it's not okay to talk to "young" people like that, either. I mean…I totally agree with you that this may have been the "why" but wow, why does she think it's okay to talk to anyone that way?

      As for anxiety…it's fascinating to me to hear that someone else feels THIS special brand of anxiety. Before I wrote this yesterday I'd never put my finger exactly on how to describe it. And frankly, what a pile of crap, lol…I hate it when the anxiety brain overrides the logic brain. Sigh. I did realize that I'd missed my second dose of gabapentin for the day, so…no wonder. Took it when I realized I forgot and that helped me get back on track.

      • Yes, I think we might be living parallel lives. And I absolutely agree with you that it most certainly is NOT okay to talk to anyone disrespectively — young, old, child, adult. Unfortunately, I see it all the time. I have somewhat of an advantage because I’m fairly tall and it still happens. My former coworker who was barely 5′ struggled with this bigtime. She was also a lot more polite about it than I am, and I found myself having to constantly take up for her. I’m kind of looking forward to aging for this very reason — tho looking young has plenty of advantages. Really good and relatable post.

    • Yeah…anxiety is a funny thing. There’s a lot of ways to deal with it. It can make you feel really nuts if you aren’t aware of what’s going on – because your perception of reality can become quite distorted by it. I try to hit it from a variety of fronts – like non-addictive medication to keep anxiety to a minimum, and trying to reframe things logically, to help take me out of the anxiety. It’s great to have supportive people around (it REALLY is) but ultimately, we have to find it within ourselves to self-soothe. It’s not always easy, but it’s totally necessary.

  2. It sounds to me what I would feel after doing something like that too. Like, post traumatic. I would be calm through the event and then know it was ok to have all my doubts and anxiety because it was over and I lived. Does that any sense?

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