FINE… you people want me to keep promises and write things once in a while.
Social anxiety. It’s a term bandied about in media nowadays by people who are often in two camps:
Camp A being the one where all the extrovert weirdos hangout. They think everyone who doesn’t want to join them in a BIG BIKE CHALLENGE or join a fucking dragon boat team to raise money for some homeless shelter or the ASPCA has social anxiety. They probably want to do a whip around and shave/dye their hair pink to raise money for SA folks.
Camp B is populated by, in my imagination, the people who dress in all black and chains so, I dunno, people won’t look at them (that’ll work), the emo gothy types. They think that just because they don’t get along well with, oh, humanity, they don’t like people noticing their tats and piercings and purple hair. THEY ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS.
I say, ignore those people. They just want attention.
Actual, real, social anxiety is a bit of a sliding scale. On one end, you just don’t like social events. You don’t wish to go for lunch, stand around talking at breaks about whatever small talk is current, you are happy to sit outside and read by yourself at lunch or do so in a cozy chair at night with a tea. The other end are where the real weirdos reside, those they just cannot do people. Ever. They can’t speak around strangers. They just can’t function in a social setting at all. If you take that scale and put the former at a one and the latter at a ten, I’m probably around a 4. I can certainly function in social settings, come off as happy and content and will even appear to have a good time. Deep down however, I’m probably looking for a way to bail on the event, to go home, to refrag my drive, not because I’m messed up and I am certifiable, but because I just don’t enjoy the social stuff that much and it’s a lot of work to appear to do so.
It is really weird for people like me to be around others that do in fact like events, gatherings, weddings, parties, get together, group lunches, sporting events, barbecues etc. I honestly cannot fathom the appeal they see. It makes me cynical and wonder why they do what they do, why they would go to a place where they know they’ll be sitting for an hour or so and would not bring a book, why they would actively seek out conversation with strangers.
I took a number of course in psychology many years ago and have kept up on the subjects most interesting to me that I encountered in them. Primarily, I like to understand why people do the things they do. I did ponder psychology as a career at one point, but the forensic profiling end of things, not actually, well, helping people, because of the already ascribed issues above. I know that people’s brains crave dopamine and other feel good chemicals and that everyone is different in how what gives that hit of the happy to them. Extroverts get it from making people happy, laughing with others, doing the social stuff. I don’t. People like me don’t. It took years to understand this. I would hear of others saying it made them feel good to help others. I did not understand till many years later that they were serious, it made them actually FEEL good. If I and an extrovert handed a homeless guy five bucks we would feel completely different things. I would simply realize I had an extra five dollars and I was doing my part by helping out someone else. An extrovert actually FELT PLEASURE by going through the same motions.
Of course, cynical brain me then turns this into a live lesson of sorts, that if you do “nice:” things because someone says you should because you will be judged later on (i.e. religion) or if you do them because doing so makes you “feel good” you are doing them for selfish reasons. Brain says if you do these things because it’s the right thing to do, you are a better person overall.
Brain then takes a tight curve and wonders why the hell other people get to experience pleasure for doing things they should be doing anyways.. How is THAT fair!?! Then I go back to watching Magnum PI and drinking tea because that is what makes me feel good.
So round about story to get to what I am actually on about. This past spring I mildly complained to my wife that nobody ever gets me anything nice for my birthday. I mention things I want all year long that I don’t want to drop regular day to day money on and people just ignore them. Bottle of expensive scotch (Islay malt thank you), books (always books), jacket, shoes, tickets to an NFL football match.. Then I quickly retracted and said “don’t get me tickets to a game. It’s too much money and too far away”. What does my wife do? Guess.
So here I am a week away from the game. We have to make arrangements for childcare. We have to get a hotel for the night in another country. We have to drive four hours each way. I need to replace my lost driver’s license that I would normally just ignore till renewal time as I never get tickets. We need to cross a border each way. We need to be in the stands with a RIVAL TEAM’S FANS in the US, where people get sucker punched and shot at.
And I am spending the whole week nervous, wondering if something will happen allowing us to not go. It’s a lot of trouble. It’s a lot of risk. It’s a lot of driving (I hate driving anywhere more than an hour). Its stress and anxiety. I am losing sleep over it. Over going to a football game. And when it is over, I will be fine, but I am not looking forward to it at all even though its something I have never done and want to do. Next time I will ask for a new winter hat.
That’s what anxiety is like you freak extroverts.