I have social anxiety.
It’s been an “issue” pretty much my entire life but I remember a specific trigger in my early adolescence where I had a two-day long episode of losing my voice over anxiety of an event. Odds are though, if you know me, unless we’ve had this conversation, you’re probably surprised to discover my affliction. I hold a normal job, I have friends (few, but I have them), I’m not a total hermit, I occasionally make it out to public events, but what most people don’t realize is what a struggle those things are. If you know me, you have probably also experienced me canceling plans for unknown reasons or made up excuses at the last minute (sorry!). But, unfortunately it’s a pretty common thing, no matter how much I’m looking forward to the event, sometimes the anxiousness overcomes the excitement of plans.
One of the most common questions I get is about work. For the better part of the last decade I’ve been a server/bartender -a job which obviously requires A LOT of social interaction. My whole job is to walk up to a table, talk to them and make them happy enough to give me money after paying the establishment. But, that’s my JOB. I don’t know how I’m able to put the mask on and do it, but it works for me. Now, get me after work hours and tell me to do the same thing- walk up to a table of strangers and talk to them- and the mere thought of it is debilitating.
One of my biggest hopes with traveling is that it will get me to open up more and better deal with the social anxiety and be able to talk to people. They say if you travel alone you’ll be forced to meet people, but I’m afraid I’ll just be alone (which is not a terrible thing). Continue reading