“Good game. Fun day,” I repeated to myself as I walked in the door.
We had just returned from my 8-year-old’s little league game after a nice win. However, it was in the car on the way home when I started to feel it. The symptoms were all too familiar: pounding temples, exhaustion, and dizziness.
Thankfully, my trusty migraine pills were in the carry-on bag along with the other typical standard life necessities: keys, wallet, lip gloss, anti-anxiety pills (oh, and a few anti-nausea tablets, just in case I get an upset stomach on a random Tuesday).
I can laugh about it.
I can make jokes.
I can even share cute memes on social media about my lack of desire to ever leave the house.
I am a good sport after all.
Nonetheless, my struggle is still real.
When I said I had enjoyed the game, I wasn’t lying. Unfortunately, my being in the outside world comes with a price.
Too much “peopling” is how I jokingly refer to it.
The proper medical term is social anxiety. And I deal with it every day.
I have been shy and anxious for as long as I can remember. I was the kid whose face turned crimson red anytime, God forbid, I was called upon in class. My goal for the day was to get through the six or so hours with as little social interaction as possible. In other words, I prayed every day to not embarrass myself. Embarrassing myself was, in my world, the absolute worst thing I could ever do.
It was easy in the early days. Frankly, I didn’t know how lucky I had it. Even after a long and rough day, I could go home and recuperate in the privacy of my own home with mommy and some milk and cookies.
Now, as an adult, I don’t have the privilege of hiding behind mommy.
Nope, not at all.
Mostly because . . . I am the mommy now.
Being an adult with social anxiety is tricky.
I tell my kids constantly they need to be brave, speak their mind, and stand up for themselves. Ironically, I often have to heed my own advice.
When I had my daughter 11 years ago, one of my biggest concerns was fitting in. Every new mom needs a set of mommy friends, right?
It shouldn’t be too hard, I thought. I’m all grown up, and we all have little babies in common. I would walk past the same group of moms in the playground and wonder if I should join in. During those times, numerous thoughts would run through my mind:
What if they think I’m weird? What if they are not currently accepting any new members? What if I was just destined to be alone forever?
While I didn’t find my way into that particular group, I did eventually find a great group of ladies who I enjoyed hanging with. I adore them to this day.
It wasn’t easy. And it certainly wasn’t magic, either. In order to meet people, I had to crawl out from under my bed. I had to make the effort. I replied yes to a Facebook invite for mom’s night. I needed to put one foot in front of the other and walk into the restaurant where the ladies were getting together. After a couple of nervous strolls around the block, I did just that.
The rest was history.
It was then that I started to learn a very important lesson: I may struggle with social anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be the thing that defines me.
I am more than just a tag.
Like any other person, I enjoy laughs, fun, great times, and good people.
I love life and I love my family.
I am shy, but I am also a mom, wife, friend, daughter, and sister.
I am me.
One of the most comforting aspects when opening up about my anxiety is realizing that I am not alone. There are so many of us.
Now that my daughter and son are growing up, I want to set a good precedent for them. They are both a little shy. And that is OK! I just want to be able to continue and let them know that it is perfectly acceptable to speak up.
And I do.
It is hard, but I do.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and join that Facebook moms’ group. Say yes to that playdate invite. Meet some great people.
Who knows? It could very well be that the group would not be the same without your presence.
It’s so very worth it.
And, believe me, so are you.