Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Social anxiety


I'm supposed to have lunch with my agent today. I am internally resisting the idea of getting dressed in my publishing best to go into the Flatiron District for lunch with my uber cool, uber thin, uber elegant agent, whom I love, by the way. She's awesome and supportive, and I feel so lucky to be represented by her, but lunch, showing up in person, that's another thing entirely.

It's snowing outside, so there is a chance we might reschedule, because she knows about my gimpy leg and doesn't want me to slip in the snow. But the snow is tapering off, and the streets might be all cleared by lunchtime, so lunch will probably happen. Why am I like this? Why is it so hard to just go places and be myself like normal people?

Is this social anxiety inborn and if not, where did it begin? The thing is, I am only like this in certain contexts, the publishing world of agents and editors being one of them. I keenly feel like I don't fit, which is nonsense. Everyone fits who feels like they belong.

Of course, if I have to, I will show up and do my best impersonation of a socially competent human being. But it takes such energy, even though afterward, I'm often glad that I did it—and even more glad that its over. When I think about it from the outside looking on, it seems supremely silly. And yet the agony I'm going through right now, the churning inside, is real. The feeling of it is real.

I just emailed her suggesting we reschedule. Now I just feel stupid.

Update: Just spoke to her by phone. She was fine. We rescheduled for three weeks from now because she's traveling in the interim. I need to remember these things are never as loaded for the other person who can't hear the cacophony in my head.






18 comments:

  1. My awkward inner child is virtually hugging yours. I feel your pain, and I know exactly what you mean. No matter who what or where, I usually feel wrong or misfit somehow, visually and verbally. It's always been a part of me, so I'm leaning toward genetics. I also use snow as an excuse to stay in, just because it's messy and depressing. You will do great, I'm sure of it, you'll be charming and brilliant! Just watch out for icy patches on the sidewalks :)

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  2. I loved reading this. I so empathize with your stomach churning desire not to go. I confess to cancelling almost every social outing we schedule. It's okay to reschedule and go when your body soul and psyche are ready for the interaction. Do something calm and wonderful today, and smile for your good choice.

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  3. Completely understood! I have the same difficulty, even meeting friends- especially in these dark cold months, I just .can.not. Do not feel stupid, it is self preservation, I think.

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  4. Unless it's meeting with my kids for lunch, I have whittled my social activities down to zero.
    Zero.
    I noticed that Lon and Lis are going to be playing in Tallahassee at the end of March and my heart lurched because I almost have to go see them play and I always end up being so grateful I did but oh, Lord. Going out? At night?
    So, yeah. I completely get it. I just loaned Lily my car which pretty much guarantees I won't have to go anywhere for a day or two.
    And I'm glad.

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  5. Every single true creative person I know is socially awkward. You are bad ass and I adore you.
    Love Rebecca

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  6. I'm pretty familiar with this feeling too. I find snow an absolute blessing in disguise. I drive a very old car and am happy when she breaks down because it means I have a ligit excuse not to go anywhere.

    I feel for you.

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  7. Dear woman, you could have written about me. And I know we are not the only ones. Next time when anxiety shows up, remember you are taking us all along and we'll keep you company.

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  8. I know this is a well trodden path but I always imagine the person I'm dealing with is sitting naked on the lavatory wearing a bad ginger wig .There's nothing intimidating about that .Where not wanting to attend something is concerned just tell yourself that you are enough - because you are .Also tell yourself it's only a couple of hours and then imagine yourself back at home in your most comfortable clothes having a big old mug of coffee .

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  9. It looks like so many of us can identify with what you’ve written. I am the queen of making plans, looking forward to them an then wanting to cancel. And I almost always have a great time when I follow through. I hate dressing up. I love casual wear. Really skinny people intimidate me until I get to know them well. I can’t even use snow as an excuse! You are not alone... I like Rebecca’s thought that it is a creative person trait! Joanne

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  10. I hear you . . . I feel I am becoming a hermit. Yet after the event, I am always, always glad I went. What?? That makes no sense, does it! But it's true.

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  11. Oh my. I stopped in to say you're not alone and I see that...you're not alone. We're not alone. Surprising how many of us feel this exact same way. Big hug. XXOO

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  12. I think you have to wait until you're ready to go -- when you'll enjoy it and get something out of it. I do find, as you mentioned, that if I convince myself to go to something when I don't really WANT to go, I'm often glad afterwards that I went.

    I love that photo, by the way!

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  13. Social anxiety is excruciating, isn't it? Reading what you wrote and reading all the comments has made me realize that, although I don't experience it as much as I did when I was younger, it is because I avoid most social situations! As a child, I was so anxious around most people (adults and children) that my hands dripped with sweat and were ice cold, but I was not anxious when I was alone. In fact, I was fearless about walking alone and exploring the countryside and woods far from my home. There are social contexts where I feel at ease, and they are a regular part of my life. I enjoy my relatively solitary life and am grateful to have a found a group of eccentric kindred spirits in my community with whom I can be a social person without anxiety.

    Your photographs are consistently engaging and thoughtful. This one is a beauty.

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  14. I keep thinking of your photo! So I've come back to tell you how much I like it. Lovely shot.

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  15. I have it, too. Even with close friends I often just can't do it at the last moment.

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  16. Ayla is currently experiencing a lot of social anxiety, too. You are a normal person, and one of the loveliest people I've ever known. And you do belong, you do, you do. It sounds like a lot is going on in your life that I'm not up to date on. Exciting things, but things that can feel awkward or uncomfortable nonetheless. A friend reminded me today that right now it's a good time to stay open and feel that discomfort. Welcome it, even. It wants to bring us something. Sending love, as always. And gosh I'm so glad to hear you have an agent and (two?) books in the pipe, it sounds like!!

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  17. I so identify with every single bit of this. Thank you for sharing it as honestly as you've done here.

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  18. I have that same social anxiety that you describe, and it does take alot of energy to act normal. Whatever normal is, ha ha. You are fortunate to have an agent you admire and I hope your future lunch will be a happy one for you.

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