Social Anxiety

Today I'm going to have lunch with a friend and her husband. Strictly speaking, she is not a friend. I met her when I was living in a Zen Buddhist Temple in Michigan, where she is a regular member. We shared some tea and have some sittings together, that was it; sometimes, however, simple activities create long-lasting bonds.

I always get nervous when I'm meeting with someone new or when I need to attend any social event. In this case, I don't know the husband and I hardly remember her—more than 10 years went by since I left that small town with one of the highest number of PhDs per square meter in the US.

During the pandemic, I had the perfect excuse to avoid social events. Among the terrible things that this event brought us, that was a “positive” one for me. Well, not that positive after a closer look. These experiences that I had managed to make them slightly uncomfortable are now causing me a more severe anxiety, again. Now I tend to make up excuses to avoid it, only to make things worse overtime.

I'm an introvert, and I'm okay with that. But the anxiety I feel sometimes is definitely not normal, even for an introvert. It has been like that since I was a child, I don't know why — maybe I do know, but let's skip that part for now.

It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feel anxious in preparation to a social event, with anxiety comes some weirdness, which causes uncomfortable situations, which make me more anxious. At the end, it reinforces the idea that these events are just weird and uncomfortable and that it is better to avoid them.

One example of what anxiety causes me is that it breaks my English. When I'm relaxed, I'm perfectly capable of having a fluent conversation in English, but when I'm nervous, it becomes a mess. I forget many words, my pronunciation changes and as soon as people start asking me to repeat what I just said, my anxiety levels skyrocket, making things even worse.

As a result, I'm often labelled as “too shy”, “weird”, “quirky”, “apathetic” or “asocial”. Sometimes I feel that's unfair.

Anyway, since my friend is going back to the US in a few days, and she insisted that we should meet, I'm doing it.

I'm writing this post simply because writing has a soothing effect on me. Most of my writing is private, I prefer privacy. When I read some of my previous posts, I feel it is a bit ridiculous to make such a big deal from something like this. At the same time, I have learnt that it is better to embrace the quirkiness in our personality than feel ashamed by it. I also know that people out there suffer from different things, and I hope that sharing my own struggles somehow has a soothing effect on someone.