Well haven’t I been rubbish lately? There’s no excuse really. I’ve been through a period of what I like to call ‘intense visibility’ – aka there’s been a lot going on. Naturally as an introvert this depletes my energy, so any spare time has been spent mainly shut away in a quiet room. I’ve been hibernating.
One of Dan’s friend’s turned thirty this weekend (just gone), and a group of us went to Portsmouth for three days to celebrate. I knew 60% of the people reasonably well, so the odds were in my favour. But it was still basically my own personal nightmare. Stuck in a house with fourteen people for the weekend? ARRRRRRRRRRRGGGHHHHHHH!
The main issue was always going to be ‘down time,’ which is VERY important to me. No matter how hard I try I literally cannot be around people for extended periods of time, not even those closest to me. Two/three hours is the max and then I need time to recharge, basically i’m like an iPhone! So I knew that this weekend would be tricky.
So why did I go, I hear you ask? Well because I like the friend in question very much. I also believe that facing situations that make us feel uncomfortable is important, (providing they’re legal/safe). It prevents anxiety from gaining too much territory.
The night before was a sleepless one. I’m past getting frustrated with myself these days, it’s just how I am. All of the usual taunting thoughts came out to play. “What if people think you’re strange?” What if you can’t think of anything interesting to say?” Rather than fighting them I tend to get up and watch TV with Rigby for a while. You can’t argue with the subconscious, this only fuels a vicious cycle. So I find it best to offer no resistance and accept that they’re ‘irrational’ and not true. Eventually the thoughts dissipate.
The journey was fine. Fortunately we arrived first and could therefore choose a room and get settled. This is again VERY important. I’m weird in the sense that I need to establish a base and prepare myself. If someone tries to talk to me during this initial period of nesting I freak out. A typical scene would be something like this
Friend: Hi Claire, how was your journey?
Me: NO! I’m not ready to be social yet, you’ll have to wait ten minutes…. Oops, I mean Hi Dave Happy Birthday!
Ok challenge number one – There was a HUGE dining room table and this became the main social hangout. Seriously, it felt like a boardroom, and the lights were brighter than a KGB interrogation cell! I prefer more casual setups like living rooms or kitchens. Dining rooms are harder because once seated you’re essentially trapped.
I froze a few times during conversations which was distressing, but fortunately Dan was on hand to translate. When this happens It’s as though a fire alarm has been triggered and rather than focusing on the question in hand my brain goes into damage control “OMG everyone is staring, say something quick! Great, now you’re blushing and talking in a high pitched voice!” It’s direct questions that trigger me, don’t ask me a direct question unless I’ve had chance to climatise and a glass of wine! Still it only happened a few times and I handled it well.
Challenge number two – the hot tub. People seeing me in my swimming gear. OH..DEAR..GOD.
Surprisingly I did get in. Once you get over the initial.. “I’m essentially half naked in a bath full of other people” it’s ok! Nobody has the perfect body… and I’d shaved my legs so all was good!
Right… Now that I’ve made myself sound like a complete miserable cow, let me say that I did actually enjoy the weekend. It was night to spend time with people who I don’t normally get chance to. For instance, four of us played crazy golf on the Saturday and that was great fun! I’m all about smaller groups.
Afterwards I had a few hours to myself in the bedroom. In the past I might’ve felt guilty about this or tried to explain myself. But now I accept that this is simply how I am and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Tbh, nobody really asked about it afterwards. They certainly weren’t sat on the stairs awaiting my return. Nobody cared, (I mean that in a nice sense).
It was a fun weekend and I’m very glad that I went.
I’m still exhausted from it though, which is hilarious. I feel like unplugging the phone and crawling under the bed for a few hours. SORRY WORLD BUT I JUST CAN’T DEAL WITH YOU RIGHT NOW, SO DO PLEASE STOP TURNING.
The next post will be chirpier I promise.. now please do excuse me while I hibernate some more.
Categories: Social Anxiety