I have a confession to make; I’m terribly, awfully, horrifically anxious around unfamiliar people. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small group or a big one, whether I’m meeting one person for lunch or giving a speech in front of a room full of people. The experience is agonizing, not just during the event or even immediately before it, but for days and sometimes weeks leading up to it.
I’ve gotten better. Yoga and meditation have helped me overcome a lot of my high-strung tendencies, and they have given me tools for managing my anxiety, too.
Like BREATHE. That’s a good one. And remember that no matter WHAT happens during this event/speech/meeting/lunch, it will pass, as all things do.
But still. It’s hard. And the funny thing is, when I tell people that I suffer from social anxiety, that I feel shy and embarrassed and self-conscious in front of people, they almost always look at me incredulously and say some variation of, “You?! Psh! Riiiight.”
I credit my years in sales and marketing for the ability to look someone in the eye, to shake their hand and smile, uttering all the socially expected niceties when I really want to puke and run. I’ve learned to put on a good show, but I’m still learning to really, truly enjoy these moments and events instead of dread them, because really, when they’re OVER, I almost always find that I’ve enjoyed myself.
With all of this, I was intrigued to read this article in the New York Times book review on a book titled; QUIET, THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT WON’T STOP TALKING, written by a woman who considers herself to be an introvert of the highest order. I haven’t actually read the book yet, but now I’ve added it to my TBR list. It sounds like a book whose time has come, because I have this theory that more people are socially anxious than we realize. Like well-versed travelers in a foreign land, many of us have learned to do and say the right thing, but I’m always surprised at the number of people I speak to who admit feeling downright sick when forced to socialize with others.
Is it a product of our modern day society? Of the fact that we can and do keep our distance from our fellow man through a variety of electronic devices? Of that fact that we’re all SO DAMN BUSY that we don’t have time to socialize anymore? To visit our neighbors? To check on the elderly couple who lives next door or bring a cake to the new family on the block?
Are we losing our ability to truly connect with other human beings?
I don’t know, but I WANT to know. So for this week’s Friday Poll (yay! The Friday Poll is back!), I’m hoping you’ll share your thoughts on the matter. And feel free to comment, too!
Also, check back tomorrow for my first A Week in the Life post. As suggested by Jana, one of my favorite readers, I’ll be posting random pictures from my week with little or no explanation. Should be fun!