Let me just put this out there: I am soooo a work-in-progress concerning this subject matter. This post is for you but it doubles as a post for me!
Does any other girl out there develop a massively anxious feeling in her stomach when she realizes she agreed to a social event?
Oh my goodness, my heart feels fluttery just imagining all the events I could attend!
You’ve got your basic list: birthday parties, Christmas parties, sports tournaments as a new team member, dinner with a friend you’ve not seen in a while, your standard job get-togethers, double dates with a new couple, and the list goes on for forever as people find new things to celebrate! I’m so glad to have the celebrations and fun, but they’re a double-edged sword because along with the festivities comes all the big, scary, potential disasters looming in the all-too-near future.
If you can run through all the scenarios by which you’ll make a fool of yourself at a party or ruin your hard-earned reputation of “normal human being” then you’re similar to me.
I get you, oh I soooo understand what you’re steppin’ in. (It’s a pretty crappy thing we’re stepping in, guys.)
You know why? Because we’re stepping and sinking head deep into fear and anxiety. We’re in so deep that some people have a hard time breathing. Literally! They’re called panic attacks and fear drives them.
You know what’s extra bad about this whole scenario? When you stress out about some future event you tend to make your fears become a reality.
I become awkward in conversations because I’m trying so hard to not be awkward! “Umm, did you know I once almost ate my son’s scab by accident?…Oh, you’re eating. Your ears probably need a band-aid like my son’s bleeding wound!”
What a scarring dialogue.
While I’ve never been quite that bad, when I’m all in my head I can’t actually be myself. Freaking out about other’s accepting me turns me into someone I’m not – and by that point, even if people are in love with me it’s not me!
What a vicious cycle, people!
Burn-out from self-fulfilling worries is fueling me to finally change up my routine.
What’s my new routine?
Really, my only other choice is to chill out. Some how. Some way. If I’m calm and confident going into my social event then I’m more likely to act like myself, genuinely care about those around me, and have a good time.
What’s the best way to chill out?
Munch on ice? Always carry a hand-held fan? Shove yourself into a walk-in freezer? Move to Antarctica where it’s not only cold but also where no one really lives so you won’t be pestered with invitations to social events?!
How about we start by being logical?
Take some time to think and support yourself with logic!
One thing that causes me anxiety is meeting up with new volleyball players. My mind goes to the worst case scenario! But if I happen to go to a pick-up volleyball game and no one likes me, I play crappily, and then am never invited back…well…at worst, I’ve made a fool of myself. In front of people that I’ll never see again. And people I didn’t even know to begin with.
What a…loss? Does that even count as a loss?
Add a dash of realism.
Instead of going through every bad scenario that could occur, go through the reality of the situation with no hyperboles or unnecessary negativity.
None of this “Everyone will HATE me if I don’t do fantastic!” stuff. Have you ever hated a newbie for not being an Olympic-level volleyball star?
Stick with the truth.
Am I a good volleyball player? Yes. Am I the absolute best? No, but I try hard. If they don’t invite me back should I think they absolutely hated me? No. Should I place pressure on myself to impress these people or should I just go enjoy playing? Enjoy playing.
If I could ditch the expectations and pressure I often think others are placing on me – when, honestly, I’m placing all that pressure on myself – I could cut my anxiety wayyyy down.
There I go being logical again.
Sprinkle in some experience.
Saying you should gain experience doesn’t mean you should take a 2-year hiatus to become the best volleyballer so that you can play a pick-up game confidently. It does mean you should say “Heck yes!” to the invitations to games, leagues, and tournaments, and then make an appearance.
Get experience going to events and before long you’ll recognize a pattern. One that makes you feel kinda foolish by how often you don’t look like a fool. The resounding chorus of games, parties, and social events will make you realize you freak out when everything usually ends up great in the end. S’what happened to me!
How silly of me! And what a waste of precious time! Will this anxious girl ever learn??
Workin’ on it. *hair flip*
Mix in lots of prayer and Bible time.
I know not everyone has their handy-dandy pocket Bible stashed in the side of their car (you sinners…wait, where’d mine go?) but everyone probably does have their smart-phone lodged somewhere nearby. Use it to look up some verses to calm your nerves and pray about it.
Here are a few that helped me before my pick-up game this week:
The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
The Lord is for me among those who help me…Psalm 118:6-7
God is for you. Can you trust that?
A lot of my anxiety comes from not truly believing that God will protect me. But He will. That doesn’t mean He won’t use an embarrassing moment or awkward party to mold me to be more Christ-like – He definitely could. Maybe to make me more persevering, more kind, more humble…embarrassing moment or not, God is with me and He is for me.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
A major snag in my confidence is fearing what others will think of me. It’s so easy to do yet such a trap. When I put pressure on myself, fearing other’s opinions, I feel crushed by the weight. I’m no longer trying to please God; I’m trying to please my fellow man. What others think of us doesn’t matter and we shouldn’t care! Caring only hurts us. What is incredibly freeing is caring what God thinks of us.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
This one is prrrrretty self-explanatory. Repeating it to myself helped me actually believe it.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Peace. That is the big thing I’m in need of whenever I feel anxious. This verse says that by telling God our fears and being grateful for the things He already has given, and will in the future give to us, we can receive peace.
I often think of God as my counselor. Jesus was called Wonderful Counselor, and boy, does He live up to the name. All my worries feel so much less worrisome once I’ve prayed about them.
Through all of my social event anxiety cases, I’m learning that in my tiniest moments of fear God wants me to trust Him. It’s no simple task to set down the burden of worrying, but the yoke of Christ is much easier and lighter.
I believe I can conquer worrying with God’s help. It’s definitely an area that needs a change in my life.
What about you? Do you often worry about attending social events? Do you think you’re ready for a change? What other routes have you taken to curb anxiety? Let me know below!