“My close friend, my only real friend, invited me out for dinner last week. I was so excited because I hadn’t been out in over three months and just craved social interaction. We were going to go for some pizza and then play some pool. But a day after inviting me — three days before the plans were going to happen — he told me that a few of his friends would be coming as well.
The moment he said that I felt my stomach drop. My heart rate sped up and I began to slightly tremble as I pictured myself shaking hands with new people, trying to think of conversation topics that would last more than 10 seconds, attempting to think of ways I could seem cool and interesting, and trying to figure out how I could hide my anxiety at the same time.
I started doing mental gymnastics to find a way around meeting them — maybe my friend and I could meet up for a quick drink before his dinner plans. But then I realized it would be much harder to get out of it if I met up with him before, and I knew I’d cave in. Finally, I made up a little white lie, and figured it would be much easier to text him and bail on the plans — I made it seem like I had plans I’d forgotten about, but that he and I could meet up soon.
I stayed home, ordered a pizza, played on the computer, and watched some DVR’d shows. It’s now been almost four months since I last went out — and that last time was with the same one friend.”
For many of us, meeting new people can be really scary. How many times have you been invited to an event — a party, dinner with a friend and their friends, lunch with a business associate, a weekend away with a friend or your partner and their family and friends — and turned it down for the comfort and safety of your own home? For the sincere social butterflies in the world, meeting new people can be exciting and fulfilling, however for those who struggle with social anxiety, the mere thought of meeting new people can trigger significant anxiety and even panic symptoms.