November 1, 2019
For an extrovert, I have an incredible amount of social anxiety. Drunk people stress me out. They are unpredictable and sometimes uncontrollable and if there is one thing I can’t stand in life it’s not being able to foresee what’s coming and being able to control the situation…aka what most of life is.
One time when I was on spring break in the Bahamas my senior year of college, my girlfriends decided they wanted to go to Señor Frogs and I did NOT want to go. But, I also didn’t want to sit in the hotel room all night by myself reading a book. I started freaking out. I told Alex, my roommate, that there was no way I could go. I just can’t. She asked me why and I told her I just don’t know. My heart was pounding, I was sweating and I even started crying. I had a full-fledged panic attack in our room with poor Alex who was actually mildly excited to go. Instead of the fun getting ready to go out experience where you blast music and sing in your bra and panties and put makeup on together I presented Alex with the total opposite. Eventually she got me to calm down, she said, “Chels, it’s going to be fine and I think it’s even going to be fun and if you’re not having fun we can go home, okay?” That didn’t seem so bad actually. I could leave if I didn’t like it, what a novel idea! Okay, so we had an escape plan, I could do this. We went and ended up having an amazing time and as soon as some drunk guy spilled his entire sticky drink all over me I told Alex I was no longer having fun and that I wanted to go and, as promised, because I have incredible friends, she, and all of my other girlfriends, followed suit. Having an exit plan became my safety net in social situations. Just knowing that there’s a way to get out of something comforted my mind.
Now cut to this week, four years later, when Domi said we’d been invited to a Halloween party at one of his classmate’s homes. He called me as I was driving, “do we really have to go?” Were the first words out of my mouth. So much for being a supportive wife. I didn’t think for a second that maybe Domi wanted to bond with the other students outside of the classroom, or maybe, just maybe he even wanted to introduce his wife to some of his new friends. But that same kind of panic pit started in my stomach. “What if I don’t know what to say? What if they’re all drunk?” Over the crackly little bluetooth speaker came Domi’s voice from the heavens, “Baby, you always end up having fun at these things even when you think you won’t. And if we’re not having fun we can leave! Also, there are going to be two puppies there.” (ahh! Another brilliant exit strategy!! And puppies? Damn, now I can’t say no.) Then I thought silently, but what if they don’t like me? To which I then replied to the little voice in my head, so what? So, what if they don’t like me, there’s nothing I can do about that. All of those other questions were also just causing me unnecessary worry. First of all, there has never been a situation in which I didn’t know what to say. And so what if they’re all drunk?! I don’t have to be! And guess what, I am a grown ass woman! I can leave!
Not being able to plan things is my nightmare. For me, perfection would be always being the hostess and having total control over every event and situation that I step into. Unfortunately, my therapist tells me that this is not the way the world works. Sometimes you have to push yourself to do something that doesn’t sound fun. Just go and meet people and talk to them, in their environment, at a party that they have planned. I have proven to myself, even if I don’t want to believe it, that when I try things I am initially freaked out by, I have the best time. I spent months holed up in my apartment when I was living alone watching Family Feud and eating Mac n Cheese every night, but then one night I got up the courage to go out to an actual bar with other people my age and I ended up talking to the man I would marry. So, it’s not always bad. It’s sometimes amazing. And you don’t have to be afraid of peer pressure. Stick to your guns, only drink as much as you want or don’t drink at all and don’t let people’s weird looks disturb you.
All of this to say, for someone who is a total extrovert, who grew up in the spotlight and on the stage I have more anxiety about talking to people and being in unknown situations than anyone would think. But I’ve come to realize it’s not the drunk people, it’s the unpredictability of the situation and the fear of not being liked by everyone I come into contact with and once I was able to define where this fear was coming from (literally this morning) everything became less scary. Worrying isn’t going to get me anywhere and I may be missing out on amazing people and miraculous fun by shutting myself off from new situations. I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, they will not all like me and I have to be okay with that. The unknown is always the scariest. But the cool thing about the unknown is once you do the unknown thing it becomes a known thing and makes it less scary and the more unknown things you can turn into known things the bigger your world is. Also, the less you try to manhandle life and just breathe and know the universe is there to guide you the less you have to worry, and the less you have to worry, the more easily you can breathe and I am told that breathing is very important.
Happy weekend friends! I hope you all get to do fun and new things, be safe and think of me panicking about going to a party if you need a good laugh. xoxox