Books Make Me Happy, On Mental Health

Fighting Social Demons To Host A New Book Club

I’m not sure if I ever mentioned that I quite literally stumbled upon a book club buying Mockingjay the day it came out. I ran into someone doing the same thing and she said, “You know…my book club all came to buy the book this morning and we’re having coffee over here, do you want to join us?” Perfect way to discover a book club! I’ve been part of the small group every since. I guess that’s 3 years now? 4? It’s been awhile. I only think I’ve missed one since. Sometimes I don’t read the book (What?) but I still go!

A couple of months ago it was my turn to host and I posted a picture on Facebook with my fridge full of beer and said something like, “You can tell I’m hosting book club tonight!” Well! Little did I know that many people WANT book clubs because tons of people said, “Oh! I want to come to a book club!” So – instead of inviting 20 strangers to this small book club I stumbled upon, I decided to host my own! The Goldfinch had just won the Pulitzer so it seemed like a perfect sign to host a book club.

I KNOW. ME! The Queen Of Social Anxieties hosted her own book club!

I do try to force myself to do things like that now and then because I never regret it and always have fun with it…but MAN. I have to really conquer some of my own demons in the process.

The Pinterest Demon

This is the one that somehow convinces me that everyone I know in the real world has homes decorated like those on Pinterest. You know, the trendy displays of knicknacks from Anthropologie. The perfectly thrifted frames. The smooth ceilings (we have popcorn ceilings still!) and the lone wall with the weird wallpaper. The first few times I had people over to my home I stressed out about trying to make it look as “hip” as I see on Pinterest. But y’all – that shit cots MONEY. LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY. So, over the years I’ve done what I like with the resources I have, but I have realized that nobody in my circle has the money or the time to have a home like the ones on Pinterest. Also? A lot of people like different things…WHO KNEW? So they may not even LIKE the same things on Pinterest I like! So, why do I bother stressing out about mine looking like any set style? Also – aside from the expensive projects we can’t afford, I really like what we’ve done with the decor of our home. We’ve made it look pretty updated even though it’s not. So, instead of panicking that other people might judge us, I kinda proudly my home off in all of it’s NON-Pinterest glory.

The Junior High School Girl Demon

Sometimes I forget that my adult friends are not like the kids from my daycare in Junior High. They’re not setting out to find things to laugh at me about. They’re more like my school friends were, there to build me up and support me, not tear me down. But for some reason, I would clean obsessively the first few times I had people over, terrified if there was dust somewhere that all of these people would gather together again to list all of the things they hated about my home. And then they’d discuss all of the times I said stupid shit. And then they’d make fun of my eyebrows. I finally realized that no one I hang out with does that. Now, sometimes I see articles on the internet “BUILD YOUR FRIENDS UP, DON’T TEAR THEM DOWN!” that make me think I’m lucky to be surrounded by the people I am, but my friends are either A) Not expecting a lot from my home because they know me well enough not to or B) Just don’t care. I think the trick is to befriend people just as busy as you are, because if you don’t have time to dust your own baseboards? Then you’re going to be THRILLED to see your friend doesn’t dust hers either.

The What If I Do/Say Something Stupid Demon

This one is the HARDEST to conquer. There is really nothing I can do to stop myself from humiliating myself in social situations. There’s no preventative action to make sure you don’t do the idiotic stuff you’re prone to do in high-stress moments. I almost have to go into any social gathering, especially ones at my home, just accepting that I’m going to do/say something stupid. Instead of trying to prevent it, I try to make a joke about it in advance so that when it happens it’s easier to laugh at. “Come to my house! But be forewarned! I’m a social invalid so I’ll probably do something really stupid while you’re there!” I feel like A) It serves as an honest-to-god warning to my friends and B) Helps other people with social anxieties feel welcome. If I’m making a FB event page for something at my house? I always add that comment in there somewhere. It makes me feel like I’m preparing my guests for my own idiocy AND I’m creating a more welcome environment for people who feel the same anxieties.

If I can conquer these demons, I always enjoy having people over at my house. I panicked a little last week because people were canceling last minute and I worried it would be me and – like – two people talking about an 800 page book. But we had a good group! We made a full circle of people around my living room! Great discussions! I was very happy about it.

And the only thing I looked back on and thought Eh…probably could have done THAT differently was this: I needed to head downstairs to get my phone but I was on one of the couches with a table in front of it so…you know…instead of just walking around that table and walking out of the circle? I thought it would be LESS distracting to climb backwards over the couch I was sitting on. You know, like every parent tells their kid NOT to do. DO NOT CLIMB ON THE FURNITURE! Unless you’re trying to be discreet, you know, because nothing says “Don’t mind me…” like climbing over furniture in a room full of grownups having an intelligent conversation.

3 thoughts on “Fighting Social Demons To Host A New Book Club”

  1. Can I be on your Book Club waiting list? I know we’ve only met a few times, but I also know Amanda…so I would know at least one other person. 🙂

  2. I’ll totally vouch for Amy!

    Also, as someone sitting directly across from you….I have no memory of this couch climbing over incident, so you must have pulled it off very gracefully/discretely. : )

  3. As someone who has a social anxiety, I was nervous going into your book club! I only knew Amanda personally, and I was trying so hard not to be that person who sits in the corner of the room, not saying words the entire time. I didn’t want anyone to think “Who was that girl sitting in the corner who was so quiet? Does anyone even know her?”
    I personally hate going to a spotless house. It doesn’t feel livable, and I don’t get comfortable in it because I feel like I mess up their stuff. I also put them in my never-invite-them-to-my-house list because my house is NOT spotless at all. Hosting a party is one of my “bucket list” because I am so scared that I might not be entertaining enough to have a good party at my house.
    As another person with social anxiety issue, I didn’t even feel and notice a bit you have the problem at all. You were a great host for the book club and I felt the energy that everyone enjoyed it. At the same time, people always tell me that they never notice I have the issue either. I must hide it pretty well 🙂
    Thank you for having me at the book club!

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