One of the things that holds me back in life is dealing with new, unfamiliar people. I’m not sure if it’s gotten worse as I’ve grown older, but I’ve been this way since I was a young girl. I remember dreading the new school year at the end of each summer. Who would be in my class? Would I have at least one friend? Would that friend still want to be friends? Growing up very poor left me without the means to be a “cool kid” so I had to rely on being friendly to my classmates to fit in. Not an easy feat for someone who has a social anxiety.
As an adult, I still deal with social anxieties. Those who know me probably find that hard to believe because of my outrageous personality and antics while teaching my Zumba classes, but I promise it’s true. Each time I step in front of a class that’s not my own, I have to fight the urge to run. My stomach starts churning and fluttering. My chest starts to tighten. My mood starts to falter. I wonder how I’ll even get through the class. Will they like me? How many people will walk out? Will they judge me based on my appearance? So far my nerves haven’t got the best of me. But believe me, they’re always lurking behind my smile.
These anti-newbie emotions reach into every facet of my life. In college, I have to sit in the back row of every class because I fear all eyes will be on me. Online course are a God send to me. Unfortunately, not every class is available online so I must brave being on campus. Each day I survive is a small victory. When I go out to eat, I request booths because I feel the enclosures will conceal me. Being seated at a table makes me feel exposed and uneasy. Are people watching me? The answer is probably not, but I still can’t shake the feeling. I’m not a fan of bars or clubs either. How can I stay hidden in those kind of places? I can’t. Trying to relax while sitting on bar stools or standing around the edges of a dance floor is almost a painful event. When I go out, I can’t wait until it’s time to go home. My friends don’t know that I suffer from social anxieties. Well, until now anyway. When they ask me to go out for a night and I say “no,” they most likely believe I just don’t want to spend time with them. So far from the truth. I love the people in my life and cherish the ones I call “friend.” I just can’t bear to be around large groups of people that I don’t know. Sad isn’t it?
I wish I didn’t have this issue. I wish I could go out and enjoy life without worrying about who’s watching me or who’s judging me. I wish little things didn’t have such an adverse effect on my life. I wish I could just….be free.