Today’s post is about party anxiety. I hosted my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party over this past weekend along with my brother and sister and it was quite the event.
Do people with party anxiety plan and host parties? Yes we most certainly do.
We get married, be in wedding parties, have barbeques, host showers, and do everything people that aren’t anxious do. We just have the added stress of anxiety in the background making everything all the harder…
As an anxious person I have been thinking about this party and daydreaming (and freaking out a little) about it ever since the initial planning stages a year ago. From time to time I would get a little too focused on it and have to take a step back and remind myslef to relax and stay present.
But my thoughts would continue to go to the party from time to time and I guess it’s just my nature.
Long story short I am thrilled to report the party went off very well. My parents were both so very happy, I got to see my brother and sister- both of whom live far away from me- as well as my cousins and other people I love- and it was the nicest family weekend.
But I was so damn anxious the final few days leading up to the party. It started to become a problem. I noticed just how badly I was being overcome with nerves last week when I couldn’t sleep for beans one night and had nightmares about the party. By the end of my work week I had developed a nasty cold sore and I was irritable as hell to my husband and kids and also to my sister via telephone.
I knew this was my anxiety in overdrive and tried to keep my emotions in check. I went back and read my post Surviving Holiday Parties with Social Anxiety. This really helped me.
It made me remember- this is not about me. It’s about my parents. I am not expected to perform or do anything other than be friendly and have a good time.
The day before and hours leading up to the party were very busy and that was a good thing. Staying busy and occupied kept me out of my head and focused on party tasks.
The morning of the party I went to Party City and the local Wegman’s with my sister and her partner to get decorations and the cake. Then we went to the event space and decorated the room.
It was then that I started to feel very relaxed and happy. When we taped up a few large black and white photos of my parents on their wedding day I felt so overcome with gratitude and love- how wonderful that they are alive and healthy and that we are all there to celebrate with them.
I ran to my parents house to change and then came back to greet the guests as they arrived.
It was wonderful. Most of the people there were in my patent’s age group (70s) and I love old people. As people started to trickle in I greeted them and introduced myself and showed them where the bathroom and the bar were. It was all very natural.
Later on, after all the guests were seated and eating dinner, I thought it would be a good idea to give a toast to my parents. I asked my brother and sister to stand with me and I asked if I could do it (this was me thumbing my nose at my anxiety).
My heart was racing and pounding so hard but I ignored it. I looked out over the room- there were 70 guests- and I saw the people for what they really were- a gathering of nice folks who love my parents, all there to share in a happy event. Nothing more.
I just thanked everyone for coming and said how proud & happy we were for my parents. Then I asked everyone to raise their glass in a toast. Then we all clapped for my parents.
It was absolutely fine. I needed to do that talking to prove to myself that once again, it was just anxiety telling me it was a big deal and trying to freak me out. It wasn’t a big deal at all. (Big surprise right? With anxiety, it never really is a big deal…)
Later that night when everyone was just relaxing back at my parents’ house I was flipping though someone’s camera looking at all the pictures.
And there I was with my sister and brother, giving that little toast. It just looked like 3 happy people standing there- not 2 happy people and one freak.
I didn’t look anxious at all.
In closing I just have to say that even though having party anxiety can be a beast, it doesn’t have to get the better of you. Remembering the reason you’re celebrating and being kind to yourself (by following the tips on this page) will help you to relax and make it a success for yourself.
I wish you peace,