I have really awful social anxiety. It sounds terrible, but I actually hate talking to people besides my husband and my daughter. From my family to some of my best friends, I have this incredible anxiety anytime I am faced with having to enter into a social situation on my own. Being that I am 32 years old and I’ve lived with this my entire life, the ways in which I manage this issue have evolved:
- Ages 5 – 16: I had my younger sister ask for everything I needed when we were in public. I refused to pick up phone calls. I never had more than 1 really good friend or a boyfriend – there were always some acquaintances, but nobody I ever went out of my way to hang out with. I was always polite to strangers/waiters/etc. The few best friends that I had over these years will tell you the same thing – “I thought Sara was a huge bitch before I got to know her.” I was really just shitting myself because I was so scared to interact with other people.
- Ages 16 – 23: Alcohol. Period. Over the years, I had many coaches/bosses/friends that would express their concerns about my drinking habits. While I really wasn’t aware of the underlying anxiety I was experiencing, I knew in my heart I wasn’t addicted to alcohol. I literally drank my way through college…it was bad!
- Age 23: I got pregnant and married a guy I really didn’t like. I don’t know this was directly related to my anxiety, but it certainly gave me another way of hiding from it. I became so preoccupied with being a mom and a wife (to a guy I couldn’t stand) I didn’t have time to be social!
- Age 25-30: This was a huge turning point in my life. I discovered yoga and realized that I needed to figure my shit out! I got divorced but then I went off the rails a bit. I was establishing myself within a whole new group of friends, which meant bigger challenges and more alcohol. I also found an amazing husband during this time…
- Age 30 – 31: I got fired from a really good job and spent the following year in a very deep depression. I really wasn’t aware of how self-destructive I had become until the fog started to lift.
- Age 31 – present: I don’t try to hide my anxiety these days. I’m just a massive bitch to my poor husband hours before any social gathering. I usually catch myself and apologize. I can go to social events without getting wasted. Things are improving!