Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Social anxiety

I've never been a particularly outgoing person, at least around people that I don't already know well. Once I do know people well, then I tend to overtalk and overshare, but strangers terrify me.  Growing up I was the pastor's kid, and I played that role well, especially since a good pastor's child always spends time talking to the older people of the church. Older people never scared me, just  my own age group.

One of the drawbacks of being in my 30s is that my "peer" group is enormous. Pretty much anyone from the age of 18-50 now is in my demographic, which means I'm now scared of a much larger pool of people than I was when I was younger.  But I have something going for me now that I didn't before- I have Daniel. The man could make friends with a concrete pole.  And I have the kids to hide behind too- they're a fabulous distraction and be counted on to need my attention if I'm in a situation where I'm not feeling secure with conversing with someone.

On Sunday we went to a party where I knew about 15% of the people very well, and had a passing acquaintance with most of the rest.  But everyone was busy with kids, and it wasn't a place where I could hide and just talk to people I knew well.  I ended up doing such a poor job of socializing and feeling so isolated and frustrated with my own fears that I was in tears as we drove home.  I want to be friendly, but I fail so miserably at it.  Being a stay-at-home mom with limited interaction with the outside world has not improved my bravery or small talk abilities, that's for sure.

Friday I will be flying off to an utterly terrifying situation. A wedding that I am attending, alone, in a city that I know nothing about, in Canada. And I know NO ONE at the wedding except for the bride.  I've never even met the groom.  I have to interact with multitudes of strangers, by myself, while wearing a still-slightly-ill-fitting bridesmaids dress.  I'm hyperventilating just at the thought.

But I do get two plane flights alone to read my books and two nights where I get to sleep in a bed in a hotel room by myself, with no middle-of-the-night wakeup screaming and no toddler sleeping in my bed in the morning and using me as a punching bag.  So I think that the benefits and the break from my normal life might be worth the stress of so much stranger interaction.  :)

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