Last week I was talking to a guy who I’m not talking to anymore, and from the very moment we started texting back and forth, my life suddenly became so much more stressful. And not like butterflies in the stomach nervousness, but totally all-consuming stress and pressure. I couldn’t focus at work, because I was just on-edge with when he would text me, and what he would text me, and what I would text back, and, and, and…
Whenever I start talking to someone new I feel suffocated in cocoon of commitment, fear, and anxiety. I am not someone who can just go with the flow. I am not someone who can just passively wait for what happens next. I am not someone who can date (probably).
I stress every step of the way. I stress about talking to someone. I stress about talking to them too much. I stress about not talking to them enough. I worry about every joke I try to make, and every sign of affection I try to initiate.
Sometimes I honestly think that my social anxiety will prevent me from ever finding a happy relationship. I will never be able to “put myself out there” — I don’t socialize well. I’m not a good flirt. I’m not good at fusing together casual small-talk with subtle stories about how great I am. I’m even less good at going out and throwing caution to the wind. While my fellow partygoers are helping themselves to Long Island after Long Island, I am wondering how late I have to stay before its socially acceptable to go home.
And so my friends have loving partners that they spend their time with, and I eat, sleep, and live alone. And I’m not miserable for it, but I can’t help but feel a tiny bit of emptiness inside of me. And I can’t help but feel just a little, teeny, tiny bit bitter about this pervasive anxiety.
I can’t help but feel like I’m spinning my wheels.
I want to be able to give someone a chance. I want to be able to not worry about tomorrow, and just enjoy today. I want to date someone long enough to actually see if they might be good for me. I want to be able to do these things, but I can’t. There are those, like my well-meaning friends, that might rebut, “Oh, it might be hard but you just have to do it.” But these people don’t know what it’s like to feel physically ill after trying to hold a conversation with some cute boy on the dance floor. They don’t understand. How could they? People equate social anxiety disorder with just feeling anxious from time-to-time, when the two are almost as different as could be.
And I guess, for those of us with social anxiety, we just plod on. We just do our best. We just try to manage our problem and move forward the best we can. As much as it sucks, I truly believe that our anxiety might just be filtering out the people who wouldn’t be good for us anyway. If what someone values in me is my ability to dance and have superficial conversation at the bar, we probably aren’t a good fit anyway.
And I know, it’s much easier to type those words out than it is to sit alone while all our friends have someone stumbled into someone.
But we should take heart. We should dare to believe in ourselves, and dare to believe in the happy ending we deserve. After all, that is the first step to conquering social anxiety.