Tuesday, November 3, 2015

People Make Me Nervous: Going to an SEC School When You Have Social Anxiety...

I like to think I'm a pretty outgoing guy. Both of my jobs require me to interact with people. I'm pretty (very) involved on campus. I'm pretty emotionally intelligent and good at interacting with others... for the most part.

That being said: People make me so nervous. Being around people and talking to people I don't know actually freaks me out a lot. Everyday tasks like walking through the student center and making phone calls causes my heart to start racing and for that fight or flight reflex to kick in. You will barely ever see me sitting by myself in a crowded place.

Social anxiety sucks. It is shitty with a capital SHITTY. I'm outgoing. Introverted, yes, but outgoing. I like to be successful and make friends. But being in social situations where I am not in control of the situations causes me to internally freak out.

Take, for example, my Italian class: I went into this class knowing literally nobody. Zero humans in that room were people I knew from previous parts of my life. And it was a class where I had to TALK TO PEOPLE IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE. I'm not even good at foreign language. That shit is difficult. È molto difficile (that's Italian). Long story short I made like 2 or 3 friends but God it was so difficult, y'know?

But there's just a lot of things that I think people that don't get some level of anxiety from social interaction don't understand (at least from my personal experience).

1. I'm not *afraid* of people. They're not big scary monsters that I find horrifying. We're afraid of being judged, looking like an idiot, pissing someone off, accidentally offending someone, getting murdered while our back is turned to someone, and other perfectly rational fears.

2. I am uncomfortable for the stupidest reasons. Case and point: The other day my best friend and I got on the bus to go to campus. We got separated (it happens). The bus was VERY crowded and I was standing in a giant mass of humans that were not really respecting my (very large) personal bubble. I wanted to cry and/or throw myself out of the nearest window because I was having so much trouble with just staying calm. But I did it because I'm just that good.

3. Alcohol is NOT a solution. Okay chemically speaking alcohol actually is a solution. Psychologically speaking it's not. There is a chance that I can loosen up a bit and have fun and let all my worries melt away. There's also a chance that I could lay on the floor and curl up into the fetal position and not say a word and freak everyone out. So I mean yeah go ahead and hand me a drink if I'm looking a little anxious, it could help. Or it could ruin everything. The choice is yours. :)

4. Vague text messages make me want to die. "Can I ask you a question?" "I need to meet with you." You better double text my anxious ass and tell me exactly why or else I am going to jump to the WORST POSSIBLE CONCLUSION. With great power comes great responsibility.

5. Invite me to things. It might make me anxious but I'm gonna be real bummed if you leave me out of stuff. Sorry I'm difficult. I was born this way.

6. If you invite me to go somewhere that is party-like and then you ditch me when we get there you have just committed the ultimate act of betrayal. This is not my environment. I don't know these people. I need to pee and I don't know where the bathroom is and I'm not comfortable asking anyone here. Look what you have done. Why did you have to hurt me in this way? Now I'm gonna leave and walk home (because irrationality is a strength of mine).

7. I don't need you to be my counselor when I'm struggling. You can just acknowledge it and say something nice and we'll be on our way.

8. Addendum to above: If I know you really well you have to be my counselor. It's in the contract we both signed when we agreed to know each other. You should have a copy. I emailed it to you.

9. If you don't understand what I'm experiencing don't act like you do. I don't pretend I know how to be an engineer or how to exercise. Educate yourself and ask questions. Understanding is a necessary component of empathy.


11. I am very very very very very very very very very very very very picky about physical contact. Not the "oh I haven't seen you in forever" hug / handshake. The casual pat on the shoulder, pat on the head, slap on the butt (that one doesn't happen much, thankfully), friendly punch on the shoulder, not friendly and very painful punch on the shoulder, etc. And some people can get away with it. Some people I actually kind of enjoy physical contact with (scratch my head please this curly hair gets itchy). But there's no rhyme or reason as to who it's okay for and who it's not. But fear not: If I don't like you touching me I will tell you. So if you think you have violated this rule but I have not told you then you are in the clear. Fist bump and high five on, my friend. You have a green light.

12. I know my anxiety is not rational. My anxiety does not care, thanks. Try a different approach.

13. I probably assume you don't like me as much as you do. I kind of like to assume people hate me and find me annoying. Thanks for being my friend, friends. You should get community service hours.

14. I will take insignificant things very personally at the most random times. Ditching me on the bus (subtweet)? I'm offended. That very insignificant comment? Offended. I might not say it but I'm probably offended. You didn't text me back? It's probably because you hate me and don't want to speak to me ever again. Sorry. I'm offended. You used a comma AND a period in your text message? Clearly you are annoyed by me contacting you. Now I'm offended.

15. If I share what I'm going through with you please feel very proud of yourself. I have trust issues and we've already established that I think I'm very annoying. You must be a rockstar.

16. That being said I'm not fragile. I'm not broken. I just have my own personal obstacles that I'm working to overcome. Everyone has them. I'm still in this life to kick ass and take names.

But if you come up to me and start talking to me out of the blue I'm gonna sweat a little bit so shake my hand fast or it's gonna be gross.

Today I found on Tumblr:

Some of you will be offended by this. I do not care.

Have a good night, everyone!