I’ve talked before about my social anxieties. It’s not something I’ve ever had to treat in any way, other than just avoiding social situations entirely. For example, I’ve stopped going to blogging conferences as the last one I went to had me in such a frenzy that I found myself hiding in the alcove of the conference building for a few hours.
There was also that time that I was invited to my book club for the first time. My book club which I now ADORE with every ounce of my soul. I freaked out for an hour before about what to wear…I freaked out about what to bring, how much to bring…I freaked about what to talk about…and I forced E to go with me. (That’s not as weird as it sounds, it was at his friend’s house and she was going to be there too since we were talking about “Mockingjay”.)
I actually think I use my book club often as that catalyst for pushing me out into the world. It was something I made a decision to do, even though I was so terrified I made my teenage son come with me, and it worked out to be AWESOME in every way possible. The last book club we had? I went straight from a run, covered in sweat. I left my shoes in the car and one of my sweaty shirts on the front porch. That’s how comfortable I am with these ladies now. It was worth all the anxiety.
Donnie has remarked before about how far I’ve come. I have book club friends, theatre friends, boot camp friends, running friends, and blogging friends. If I’m talking about someone I have to clarify where they fit into my life. 2-3 years ago? If I was talking about someone, it was my friend I’ve had since E was a baby. Because she was the only friend I was close enough to for years to actually talk about.
But tomorrow night, I’m have a party that I’ve invited people from all areas of my life to. It’s a party/book club for Jenny’s book, which seems the PERFECT motivation to conquer my social anxieties. Because – while I’ve gotten loads better – I’m still terrified! AAACK. People are coming to my house! The carpets are stained! I didn’t make cake poppers! I never got that one print in the mail that I wanted to hang in that one spot and now it’s blank and it looks weird!
It helps that Lisa and Sarah are hosting with me because I can blame them if something goes wrong. (Just kidding, ladies! Maybe!) But it’s also so exciting…a party! For my friends! At my house! I’ve never done this before. I had an engagement/wedding party for a friend once, but those people were her friends. I had a Harry Potter party once, but I wasn’t stressed because it was mostly kids. Harry Potter! Can’t go wrong there.
This is a grown-up gathering…AT MY HOUSE. I’m freaking out about where to put all of my dining room chairs so they’re not blocking the food on the table. How do I hide my carpet? Which bathroom should I send guests to? (This is always the hard one because most guests hang out downstairs but the bathrooms are in the bedrooms downstairs, the “public” bathroom is upstairs and that seems SO FAR AWAY.) Nervous! Excited! WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?
Either way. I’m proud. Some days I’m more proud of my friends than of the miles I’m running. Because – while those miles are therapy in their own way – my friends let me send them crazy emails that say things like, “Tell me why I’m not punching my husband in the face right now?” (Just kidding, hon! I love you!) (Like he reads my blog…) My friends let me text them when I’ve made myself sick from binging on chocolate chip muffins. My friends let me call them to relay funny stories about my son getting Paparazzi’ed because he looks like Harry Styles from One Direction.
In other words? I’ve learned that sucking up the social anxieties and putting myself out there has brought immeasurable joys in my life. I’m still a mess before social engagements. ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE AT MY HOUSE. But I remind myself the joys that making friends has brought me in my life. And that, each time I take a chance, I’m rewarded 10-fold. No matter how nervous I am, how many stupid things I say, or what items I trip over or what foods I spill on my clothes…I still have found plenty of women who don’t hold any of those things against me. Some of them even share the same tendencies. And let me tell you, if you can bond over shared stories of klutziness or embarrassment? You’ve got an instant-friend.