Making Plans with Social Anxiety

 

I make a lot of plans. This is partially because I really do love the people in my life, and partially because I just hate saying no. Truth time, though: I feel some level of dread before every activity I commit to. It’s not you, it’s me. I swear. It can be an appointment with a doctor, a dinner with family, or catching up with friends – they all give me bat-sized butterflies. So, what’s an anxious girl to do? This is what I’ve learned so far:

Don’t overcommit!

Saying yes is often much easier than saying no, especially for someone who ties a lot of their self-worth to what they can offer to other people. It’s crazy-easy to get stuck in the paranoid trap of convincing yourself that turning down an invitation will guarantee you’ll never get another, or that saying no makes you less of a friend. Before you know it, your calendar is full and your chest grows a little tighter every time you look at it. It’s taken years for me to figure this out, but I’ve learned to be a little bit of a pessimist when making plans. Sure, I feel great this week, but is it likely that next week will be harder for me? Do I have a lot of existing commitments, or big projects due at work? It’s helpful to look at the bigger picture, and err on the side of self-preservation. I find that spacing out my social engagements – even if that means saying no to some things – makes for a much calmer me.

Be honest.

It’s okay to admit that you’re having a rough day and need some quiet time to recover. Know that your real friends won’t hold that against you, and then show yourself the same courtesy and let it go. Could you have pushed through and made it out to the bar? Maybe. But speaking from experience, the only thing worse than not catching up with a friend is trying to have a normal conversation while hiding the fact that you’re about to cry. Trust that you know what’s best.

But sometimes, give yourself (and your friends) a chance.

Remember what I said about knowing what’s best for yourself? Sometimes what’s best actually isn’t staying home. Job functions, one-on-one meals with people you trust, visiting a family member, going to the gym – all of these have very real benefits that may just leave you feeling lighter than before. (And also still employed, which is a nice bonus.) A day can go from bad to good just as easily as it can go from good to bad…and that’s saying something! Keep “yes” in your vocabulary and see what you can do.

And if you’re a friend reading this with someone in mind, responses like these mean more than you’ll ever know: