I grow anxious during every pause in conversation. I accidentally end up cutting people off because I assume they’re finished with their thought when they’re only taking a second to breathe. Silence makes me uncomfortable so I jump to fill in the gap. I don’t want the pause to last too long because I associate their silence with boredom — and the last thing I want is for them to be bored, for them to wish they never started up a conversation with me in the first place.
I look like a bad friend, like a bad listener, because it’s hard for me to concentrate on what the other person is saying. It’s not that I don’t care about the story they have to tell. I just get lost in my head, preoccupied with how I should respond. I don’t want to embarrass myself, so I try to plan out something witty to say — but then I miss half of what they’re saying.
Most of the time, people don’t even bother to approach me. I always have my head in my phone, pretending to text, or have my earbuds lodged in my ears, blasting music in the hopes of avoiding human interaction. I make myself look unsocial, unfriendly, unapproachable. Throughout the entire day, I will keep my fingers crossed no one walks up to me and asks a question. But at the end of the day, I will be upset about how I went hours without socializing. It doesn’t make any sense.
I want more friends — but I don’t want to do any of the things required to make friends. I don’t want to put myself out there. I don’t want to ask for phone numbers or send the first text. I don’t want to meet up for drinks. I don’t want to get stuck in conversation.
My anxiety makes the moments that are supposed to be fun feel like torture. I dread parties and sleepovers and long car rides where someone else is driving. I have trouble getting comfortable anywhere other than my own bedroom.
My anxiety wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if it only occurred around strangers. But it happens around everyone, even people I consider close friends. It makes me look awkward in front of them. It makes me look insecure. It makes me look like I want nothing to do with them.
I hate the way my anxiety makes me come across as angry and unapproachable. I hate the way my throat closes and heart races when the only other person in the room is someone I’ve known for years. I hate the way anxiety makes me feel like an outsider around the people who actually give a damn about me.
I’m trying my best to fight against my anxiety, but it keeps ruining friendships. It keeps pushing me away from people who actually show interest in getting to know me better. It keeps convincing me to isolate myself, to stay in my own room, to stay in my own lane.