When I first thought of this title, I thought it would be: On Being an Introvert and NOT Suitable for Human Consumption. But we’re not cannibals, so I decided that wasn’t the right word and I changed it to Companionship. Or was it the right word after all?
I don’t mean that I think people will physically devour me, but when I am in a social situation, my fight or flight syndrome (quite well-honed after all these years, and quite potent), kicks in and I might as well be covered in vegan barbecue sauce with the world nibbling away at my sour self.
Last night we had two couples and their children over for the Super Bowl. These are good friends, one couple whom we see on a regular basis, the other couple pretty consistently. But all day leading up to the little party, I was on edge, grumpy and feisty. I cleaned and straightened the house and grocery shopped and cooked. My kids were well-behaved. My husband helped. There was no reason to be on edge.
No reason other than I have pretty significant, and deeply-rooted, social anxiety. I love silence. I love to be alone. I struggle with nearly every social situation I encounter, planned or otherwise. And though I initiated the party and was excited to hang out with friends, I was still anxious.
What did I do? Had a few too many glasses of wine, a typical coping mechanism of mine to loosen the lips and reduce the anxiety. The problem was, I loosened them a little too much and spewed nonsense and personal details and all kinds of strange and unusual things. I interrupted others’ talking, forced words out of my mouth in rapid-fire profession, and had nightmares all night about how I must’ve come across. Sometimes I don’t see how I have friends at all.
But I do because they’re awesome people who don’t seem too put-off by the manic energy that pours off of me in social situations. And thank goodness for them.
I wish my inner introvert could understand that I am not going to be devoured and consumed by social interaction. People are not going to destroy me. People are kinder than that. But as an introvert with social anxiety, I can’t always make my logical thoughts translate into my feelings and being the type of person I am, feelings control my actions. Not logical thoughts.
Wow, it’s fun to be me.
What about you? If you’re an introvert, do you have social anxiety? Do you feel like conversing and mingling with others taps into your fight or flight syndrome, making you act like a crazy person? Do you feel like you’re being devoured? Consumed?
How can we, as introverts, maneuver our way through social situations without feeling like parts of us are being chipped away? It’s all internal anyway. So, what do we do?
For one thing, we can surround ourselves with understanding, compassionate friends. I am blessed to say I have these. I may have been annoying last night, or obnoxious, or irritating. But, these are my friends and I have a feeling they will forgive, forget, and return again for another fun soiree.
If you have an experience to share, I’d love to hear from you. Knowing I’m not alone is one of the greatest feelings I could ever have.