10 seemingly normal situations that give me intense social anxiety

I made this list on a Post-it a few months ago and recently rediscovered it in my purse.

I started it on a day where I’d nearly hyperventilated when I couldn’t find my work badge in my car as I pulled up to the parking garage. It only took me about seven seconds to locate it, but it might as well have been an eternity. The very idea of cars piling up behind me – or even worse, honking at me – was enough to send me into a sweaty, heart-racing tailspin.

Because of a badge. And seven seconds. Don’t sweat the small stuff is a lovely saying that bears no relevance to my life.

I love quotes about not worrying, I gravitate toward people who are naturally carefree and I’m fully aware that anxiety is pointless. But this is just how I’m wired. Who cares if the glass is half full or half empty, it’s probably too close to the edge of the table and there might be a bug in it and is the lemon wedge contaminated?

Here’s a list of not-so-unusual situations that might just send me onto the floor of my closet. Blame it on being an introvert or just a special breed of weird, these are things that make my physically uncomfortable:

  1. Having people sing Happy Birthday to me. Or, singing Happy Birthday to anyone else because I can’t stop thinking about how awkward I would feel if it was me.
  2. Making eye contact with someone while still a good distance apart, like in a long hallway. And then not knowing if I wave, or make continued eye contact, or divert my gaze. This is particularly treacherous at work and airports.
  3. Opening a gift in front of the person who gave it to me. Doesn’t matter if it’s my best friend or my husband, still terrifying.
  4. Walking into a location like a restaurant to meet someone, when I don’t know exactly where she’s sitting. Literally paralyzing. If you’re ever meeting me somewhere, you’ll get a very specific set of directions.
  5. Leaving a theater mid-movie to use the restroom. Having to relocate my seat is the tricky part here. Chances are I’ll just hold it instead of running the risk.
  6. Customer service situations where I think I don’t have all the right paperwork or could get reprimanded, like when I go to emissions testing or through airport security.
  7. Unanticipated affection. When a hug is unexpected I do this awkward shrug and brace move where I look like I’m in a straightjacket.
  8. Going to an event where I don’t know anyone. So often forced into this professionally, so often thankful when there are cocktails.
  9. Watching someone else get embarrassed. When people drop plates in restaurants and everyone cheers, I cry inside.
  10. Restaurants where it’s not clearly marked where I stand to order verses pay verses wait for my food. Signage goes a long way, people.

Not proud of these, but fully aware of how ridiculous they all are, and hopefully this makes you else feel better about your own idiosyncrasies.



One thought on “10 seemingly normal situations that give me intense social anxiety

  1. When you move out of someone’s way and they move out of your way and you both move right back in one another’s way as a result

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