An Anxious Introvert
I’m not going to lie. Meeting new people is hard, especially when you’re an introvert. In fact, I feel like Netflix and chill was designed especially for me. Add in being a single mom with four children, who just restarted a private practice providing counseling services, and it sounds like a near impossibility. It’s not like I haven’t joined a dozen Facebook groups of all types, both local and national, in fact I’m quite active in a few. The thing is that the second there is any mention of an actual meetup in person or even via Zoom, I politely click the maybe button for participating, and then never show up. Yes, I’m that person!
It’s not that I don’t want to go to these events, because in my head I really do. In fact, I’d really like to talk to another grown-up over brunch, or just have the opportunity to do something other than what I normally do day in and day out. I’m just sometimes consumed with all the what ifs. What if there’s no parking available? What if I’m the only one not talking? What if I get a question I’m not willing to answer? What if I arrive too early? And so on and so on.
These questions point out the real issue here. Anxiety. This overthinking or racing thoughts is one symptom of anxiety, as is my increase in heart rate, worrying, sweating, and nausea. My anxiety is mostly mild and has never resulted in a panic attack, but it’s something I’ve struggled with from childhood, even before I knew what this was. That upset stomach I had every morning before going to school as a child, when I had to give a presentation in front of the class, and when standing in any type of line (cafeteria lines included) was all my nerves.
I have learned to live with it, by giving myself pep talks, making sure to take deep slow breaths, and seeing my own therapist regularly. Being an introvert with anxiety and trying to be more social is a challenge. I’ve always enjoyed my own company, maybe since I was an only child. My dad would encourage me to go outside and hang out with the kids in my Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, but the thought of that made my stomach hurt. Reading was always my go to from an early age as was writing. I could read an entire book in one day. I haven’t written in years, outside of journaling, but I think I’m going to get back to doing so if only through this blog.
If you’re an introvert with anxiety like myself you’re in good company. I see you! It’s okay to be an introvert although society may say differently, or maybe that’s just all the extroverts talking. We can have fun too, but that may look different for us. I realize that for me engaging in quiet activities helps keep me calm, so a nice dinner in a setting with soft music playing is ideal. Being around too much noise and activity only makes my anxiety worse and makes me irritable. It’s not that I can’t go to concerts, because I have gone to them in the past, it just means that I try to get there early to find parking and be able to locate my seat. It also means that I probably need to take some time to decompress after the concert. Let me know what have been your challenges as an anxious introvert. What has worked to help calm your nerves?