I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.
The same thought travelling around my head for 20 minutes while I sit in a car deciding whether I should make up an excuse and drive away. I think I cracked my knuckles to the point my fingers were aching. Bad habit when I’m anxious.
I felt sick, my body was tense and I’m sitting in my car waiting for my friend to say not to come meet up, we will need to cancel.
“Please come catch up and see us! I also invited another mate so you won’t be the only person that doesn’t know anyone”
So? Meant nothing to me, I don’t see them miraculously fixing my social anxiety.
Guilt. It’s usually the one feeling that will turn my mind from avoiding friends and social situations into sure, I’ll make an appearance.
I hadn’t seen my friend in over a year, had never met his partner and all I could think about was locking myself up in a room to avoid public.
“Ok, sure I’ll come, but I’ll drive and only stay for a little bit”
Social anxiety can swallow any small amount of charisma in your body. You lose your laugh, your smile, your perception of where you are and the only thing in sight is the exit sign.
I nearly didn’t meet him.
“Ok, we’re at the pub, the first table you’ll see as you walk in.”
Fuck. I drove here. I’m waiting in the carpark. I didn’t think of an excuse.
Knowing one person in a crowded bar, alcohol soaked floors and an average one man band playing Horses by Daryl Braithwaite can be an absolute nightmare. Your walls close in and suddenly there are too many movements in your peripheral vision. Social anxiety is debilitating.
I’ll stay for an hour then I’ll retreat back to my reclusive perfect night in. A well overdue catch up, meeting of new lovely people and somehow staying there sober without panicking was a success.
Remember to celebrate the little wins.
“Alright, I’ll probably head off soon” – “Nah wait, my friend is nearly here and will be good to catch up with you both.”
20 minutes and I’m leaving. I couldn’t think of anymore small talk with people I just met, a years worth of catch up drifts by and I’m sober wanting desperately to get drunk just to aid my own comfort.
And then he walked in.
Quick introductions and a small conversation. When meeting people, I like to listen to how they speak, how loud they are and how they want to be heard.
How quiet he was, caught my attention. He wasn’t loud, he wasn’t obnoxious and when he spoke my anxiety didn’t cripple my response.
When I think back to that night and realise how close I was to missing him, two thoughts cross my mind.
- It was meant to be
- Anxiety nearly stopped me from meeting the love of my life.
When wondering where life can take you, your imagination seeks happiness. It creates the ideal situation of seeing the world and all its beauty. You throw yourself into a dream of adventure, success and love, only for it to turn to doubt all too quickly.
Anxiety attacks you at home, in the street, in your workplace – anytime day or night. It can slap you in the face and make sure you feel it.
I become mute. I can’t answer questions. My head can’t focus on a single thought, my chest tightens and I have to try stop myself from crying before anyone can see panic wash over my face.
Anxiety, whether it’s socially, occasionally or overall engulfing your everyday life can be the difference in what happens tomorrow.
Ever since that night of meeting James, I have recreated how anxiety controls me.
What if you took the chance to overcome a fear?
Forced your voice forward?
Volunteered for those tasks at work, not knowing what the results will be?
Realise anxiety isn’t a roadblock but only a speed bump.
Mental illness doesn’t define who you are but it helps to shape you stronger and the values that are gained are your biggest success whether it be personally, professionally or spiritually.
I don’t believe opportunities are always missed, maybe they’re just put on hold for the perfect moment, such as those 3 seconds you stop anxiety; before it has the chance to stop you.
I nearly didn’t meet you.
I nearly didn’t meet you either.