Just because someone has social anxiety doesn’t mean they don’t long for interaction with others. I think most socially anxious people very much want to be liked and accepted. Otherwise why would it be such a big deal for us to be around people?
Ok so the place where I work had a holiday party last weekend. I didn’t go. Wah! No one even asked if I was going. I haven’t been at my job for too long, but it would have been nice if someone would have at least said, “Hey Jill are you going to the holiday party?”
Social anxiety Interaction
I have been trying to fit in socially at work for as long as I’ve been there. I know that some days I’ve had to struggle with anxiety so much it was all I could focus on. But in truth one of the reasons I was so happy to have landed this job in the first place was because I knew I would be out in the working world again, interacting with people.
I knew I’d have to learn how to handle my anxiety and stop panic attacks while there and that it would be an adjustment. And inch by inch, little by little, day by day it had been getting easier. Thank God.
So when the sign went up on the locker room door a few weeks back announcing the holiday party I really didn’t give it much thought.
I’d been working on my unit and also helping out on other units when necessary. My focus was to practice just being friendly and helpful without being a doormat. Practicing having little conversations, practicing talking to doctors and nurse managers to help with my authority figure anxiety issues.
It was for the most part one big, mostly happy experiment. Bumps and panic attacks and severe bouts of social anxiety along the way to be sure, but damn if I wasn’t making good progress. I was quite proud of myself.
A few times since I started working I’ve even brought goodies in to share, like homemade cookies.
Was that brown-nosing a little? Um, honestly yes, kind of. I wanted people to like me.
So the sign went up announcing the holiday party and at first I didn’t really notice. But then I did start to tune in. People were talking about it a little.
I work closely with 3 other ladies in my area and I specifically asked them, “Are you going to the party?” (If I did go to the party these would be the people I would most likely sit with.)
So imagine my surprise when they answered “yes” or “I’m not sure yet.” But none of them asked me if I was going.
Can I tell you the anxiety monster reared it’s ugly head and just went all nutso, flooding my mind with nonsense:
- See? No one asked you to go
- You still don’t have any friends
- Why don’t you bake some more cookies for them Jill? Maybe they can take them to the party…
Then I had a little issue with 2 people at work, which I won’t bore you with here. It wasn’t personal, but it was uncomfortable, and led to some weird feelings. I actually was pissed off. I definitely didn’t feel much like I wanted to get down and party with co-workers after that….
As the day of the party came upon us, I just resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to go.
The rational part of me thought: You know, the next get together will be less stressful. I’ll know more people’s names by then, and I won’t feel like the “new girl” so much, things will just be smoother. It’s not really a big deal…
But the irrational part of me took over and the anxiety monster had me all worked up, doubting my self worth and feeling like a huge failure because of my social anxiety.
Interaction with others at work: FAIL!
So low and behold, the annual holiday party came and went last weekend and I didn’t go. And no one asked me why I wasn’t there. And when I was thinking irrationally, my feelings were a little hurt!
Thankfully, I squashed the stupid anxiety monster finally (just like a bug!!), and now I am thinking clearly about this:
I have anxiety issues. I am working on them every day as best I can using my anxiety self help skills. My feelings may be hurt a little about the party, but that has everything to do with me being highly sensitive. It has a lot to do with being hurt in the past. It really doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation.
The reality was it was just not that big a deal. No one really cared. Hardly anyone went.
No one at work is my best friend. Heck, no one at work is actually a friend- yet. But I am friendly and helpful to everyone and for the most part, I feel accepted. I have social anxiety, and friends do not come easily to me.
But today that is my choice. I am proud that I no longer let people just walk all over me. I can discriminate and decide who I will befriend and be loyal and loving to. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’m not trying to force the process anymore, thank God. And I’m not in some popularity contest. I don’t have to sell myself to make people like me.
Do you struggle with social anxiety, interaction with others, fitting in, and all that jazz?
I wish you peace,
ps. Want a cookie? I baked them myself….. kidding!
Principles I use in my social interaction, time tested, and still work incredibly well today- How to Win Friends & Influence People. A classic.