I’ve noticed that when I feel “good” I really struggle to write, which is one of the reasons I don’t post weekly on here. I believe in ‘quality over quantity’ and I’ve never wanted this to be a place where I dump content just for the sake of posting. That’s not what this blog is about. This blog is a safe place for me to share my thoughts with others who may experience things similar to the way that I do. It’s also for people who are curious about mental illness and my wonderfully supportive loved ones to get a glimpse into my mind.
I’m writing today because I’m supposed to be in meeting. I guess, technically I am in a meeting – I dialed in, but I should be there in person. Why did I dial in? Because it’s a department-wide meeting and seeing a large group of people I don’t know very well made me turn on my heels and head back to the safety of my desk and my big headphones. Groups of people I don’t know well make me very anxious. Sometimes even groups of people I know make me anxious. Basically, I don’t like big groups. Crowds are fine. I live in New York City so I’m fine being shoved around by people I don’t know. But put them in a room where I could potentially have to speak to one of them? No way. Abort.
I don’t know why people make me so nervous. Maybe it’s because I grew up as an only child and spent a lot of my childhood, and adulthood, alone. I love being by myself and it’s crucial for my mental health. As I sit here, half listening to this meeting, I keep thinking about why groups of people make me so anxious. Where did this social anxiety come from? Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert and that’s just who I am. I don’t like being around people I don’t know. I don’t like making small talk. Maybe that makes me anti-social, but whatever it makes me it’s who I am. I used to wish I could be extroverted. I look at people who walk in a room full of people and can talk to anyone and think, ‘how the hell do they do that?’. But that’s just not who I am. I get really quiet when I’m a group of people I don’t know well. Being around people also makes me really tired – it drains me. Even being in a group of people I love makes me tired. It takes a lot of energy for me to be around people, especially when I don’t know them well and I’m so focused on trying not to be awkward. Even though I don’t want to admit, I do care what people think of me. I think most of us do.
So here I sit, away from the people at the safety of my desk. I’m lucky that if my manager asked why I never come to meetings and call in instead, she’d understand. But I’d be lying if I said I felt completely comfortable with my decision to sit alone. Part of me wants to be ‘part of the team’, but a bigger part of me is fine with being on the outside looking in. I wish the thought of being in a big room full of people didn’t make my heart race, but I have social anxiety and that’s just part of my deal. I know I’m not the only one, I see the other people who call into the meeting who I know are here. Maybe they’re too busy to attend, or maybe the feel the same way I do. Maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. And maybe that’s ok.