Introver-xiety | It’s a ‘thing’
“I’m having a coffee morning at my place this Thursday and I’d love for you to come!”
This is one of a million sentences that strike panic in my very soul. Initial panic is only the beginning. From panic it quickly grows into a rolling tsunami of anxiety starting with questions like, ‘what would I wear? what are other people wearing? what time should I arrive so that I’m not the first? Can I enter quietly and unseen without fanfare and acknowledgement? once there, how do I fly under the radar? what if everyone is in the same room? what if someone asks me a question or worse what if I come in and no one knows what to say or just stops talking? will I know anyone? and if I do when will they be arriving? what do I do if they start talking to someone else? if I want to leave, how easy is it for me to just disappear? what’s my exit strategy???
Panic and anxiety has now reached an apex and that’s only within the first 2 minutes of being asked the initial question by a well-meaning acquaintance. Over the next few days as the anxiety tsunami gathers water, my mind reels with possible scenarios that I may encounter at this ‘coffee morning’ and how I would resolve any resulting failures on my part to ‘fit in’.
I visualise my easy-going confidence and graceful ability to converse clearly and effectively with wit, charm and intelligence. I practice facial expressions so that I don’t look like I’m as tense and as horrified as I really feel and decide which of these expressions I will be using during the actual event and which ones would give me away. All these thoughts and visualisations roll and churn in the undercurrent of my daily life until ‘the day’ finally arrives.
The day has arrived and I busy myself with menial tasks to mask the paralysis that has gripped me. I feel lost, spinning in a vortex of self-doubt. I wait till the last minute and unsteadily make my way to the bathroom and slowly apply a light layer of acceptable make-up. An acceptable, but-not-too-fancy summer dress is chosen and stared at with mild disdain…is it too much? too little? will I look alright? I have to sit down, breathe, gather strength.
Eventually, I’m overcome by a rush of emotion and tears start prickling the corners of my eyes. They roll steadily over my makeup and down my cheek. A fight erupts in my head telling me I’m being silly and that going to this ‘coffee morning’ is going to be alright. Once there I’ll be so glad I fought through all this emotion and I’ll even be better off for it! The other side of me is tired and broken from the tsunami that has already washed over me.
I grab my phone and WhatsApp, ‘sorry for the late notice but I won’t be able to make it this morning. Thank you for the invite!’
I’m disappointed with myself. I feel numb. But the relief is palpable. ‘next time’, I say quietly to myself.
the rest of the day is spent rebuilding.