I Keep Canceling Plans Because My Anxiety Convinces Me To Stay Home

A girl with anxiety
Unsplash / Lauren Roberts

I worry about plans weeks in advance. My brain runs through every possible scenario (at least, every bad scenario) and convinces me that I am going to have a horrible time.

I will have trouble sleeping. I will lose my appetite. I will suffer from stomachaches and headaches — all because there is something marked on my calendar.

It might not even be a dreaded event, like an interview or a dentist appointment. Nine out of ten times, it something I should be excited about. A party. A holiday. A get together with friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Even though a part of me wants to socialize, a bigger part of me wants to come up with any excuse to get out of going.

That is why I have a nasty habit of canceling plans at the last second.

Canceling plans gives me a wave of relief, because I no longer have to worry about getting dressed, driving down the highway, and suffering through hours of social interaction. I can stay in bed instead. I can stay in my comfort zone instead.

Like John Mulaney has said: “In terms of instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin.” 

Unfortunately, that relief only lasts for a little while. Until I get bored. Until I wonder if I made a mistake. Until I start seeing my friends post videos and photos of their fun night out and hope they don’t hate me for canceling.

Then my anxiety appears for an entirely new reason. I start wondering whether my friends are going to stop talking to me. I wonder whether they are going to stop inviting me out because I always do this, I always tell them I’ll be there and then decide against going at the last second.

I hope they understand, but how could they when I never tell them the whole truth? I never mention my anxiety. When I cancel plans, I tell them I have to work. I tell them I have a family obligation. I tell them I have no money left in the bank to spend. I lie through my teeth.

Even though isolating myself makes me feel more comfortable, it also makes me hate myself. The entire time I’m home, I think about how much fun I could have had if my anxiety wasn’t trapping me inside of my bedroom.

I hate my anxiety, because a good chunk of my life is spent wishing I had something to do. But then, when someone actually asks me to do something, I get scared and back out at the last second.

I wish I had the strength to put myself out there. I wish I had the courage to show up at parties, even when I barely knew anyone who was going to be there. I wish I had the social skills to strike up a conversation with someone I hardly knew.

I wish it was easier for me to make friends. I wish it was easier for me to fit into groups. I wish it was easier for me to handle social situations as a whole.

I wish my anxiety didn’t hold me back like this. TC mark

The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved.

You don’t have to solve your whole life tonight. You just have to show up and try. Focus on the most immediate thing in front of you. You’ll figure out the rest along the way.

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