In her song “Boys”, Charlie XCX sings “I’m sorry that I missed your party… I was busy thinking ‘bout boys.” Would you buy her excuse if you were throwing a party? I sure wouldn’t; if people RSVP, I generally expect them to show. But what if Charlie XCX changed “boys” to “weight” in her song? Would that lend any more credence to the excuse? Would you accept that as reasonable? That’s the reason I backed out of a party last weekend; if I could sing (which I cannot), I’d be belting out “I’m sorry that I missed your party… I was busy thinking ‘bout weight.”
I’d been invited to the party a few weeks beforehand and was looking forward to hanging out with my friend and socializing with some new people. Now that I’ve been vaccinated, I feel especially keen to be catching up on all the socialization I missed during the first part of the pandemic. The day of the party, I had lots of thoughts running through my head: Will I be able to sit down at the party? Will they have furniture I can fit on? Will that furniture hold me even if I can fit on it? What if I have to stand for hours? What if I sweat from moving around? Will there be food? Will I look like I’m dieting if I don’t eat anything? What if I eat too much? Those kinds of questions continued in that vein for quite some time, and I worked up a nice little anxiety knot in the pit of my stomach.
The questions I was struggling with all stem from having a large body and the insecurities surrounding that. I think that struggle is different from traditional social anxiety; I’m not worried about if I’ll say something wrong, not connect with others, or struggle with what topics to talk about. Instead, I’m worried about rickety furniture, sweat on my brow, and food options. It’s a very specific kind of anxiety; a “body-focused social anxiety,” if you will, though you won’t find that on any diagnosis list. The closest I could find is Social Physique Anxiety, but that’s more related to sports and athletic performance, not moving around a kitchen during a get together.
The fact of the matter is when I remove the anxiety, I do want to attend the events I get invited to. I don’t want to miss out on activities because of my weight and actual limitations, or because of the anxiety surrounding my weight and the limitations I’ve placed on myself. I want to attend events so I can have fun, meet new people, and expand my social circle. I want to make the most of being young(ish) and being vaccinated. That doesn’t make it any easier in the moment, however, and I can’t just remove the anxiety by wishing it away.
After a lot of back and forth, I texted my party-going friend and explained I was having a lot of anxiety and didn’t feel like I wanted to be around people that evening. I was relieved that he was incredibly understanding, and we planned to meet up the next week. I’m grateful to have a friend who accepts me as I am and is understanding, whether he can empathize with my body-focused social anxiety or not.
In retrospect and with a few days having passed since the event, though, I’m wondering if I gave in to my weight worries or if I cared for myself by just relaxing that evening instead. I’m leaning more toward the former. Part of having anxiety is pushing through that feeling and attempting the activity anyway and learning you can accomplish it. What I don’t want is to get into a pattern of not attending events because I’m anxious with weight worries and lose out on experiences and friendships.
Regardless of if I did the right thing for myself that evening, I’m committing to going to the next party that sounds fun I get invited to, weight be damned. This isn’t going to be a Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes situation, though; I’m still going to reserve the right to not attend if the party isn’t my scene or I’m not feeling well, etc. Because at the end of the day, I don’t want to have to recite “I’m sorry that I missed your party… I was busy thinking ‘bout weight” when I could be saying, “Thanks for the great time!” instead. Doesn’t that one sound so much better?