Making Plans with Social Anxiety

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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:

2 thoughts on “Making Plans with Social Anxiety

  1. I identify a lot with your post. Lately I’ve been a serial canceller. Sometimes I cancel for legit reasons, like if it’s extremely cold and I don’t want to be outside for whatever event or thing I’m doing, or if I’m physically unwell (headache/migraine). Other times I cancel, of course, out of anxiety. The days I make plans to go out, even if it’s by myself to just take a stroll at the library or hit the local coffee shop with my kindle, I feel a sense of despair come over me, almost like I’m second guessing how I spend my free time and if it’s worth it. When my plans involve being with other people, I often cancel because I think a lot about if the people I meet will like me. I basically convince myself no one will, which is kinda irrational. Even if I’m meeting up with a friend or acquaintance, I mess things up by worrying about it. I find myself thinking things like, “they’re just hanging out with you out of pity”, or “no one is going to want to talk to you”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Nat! I can’t even tell you how much I relate to your comment. I’m great at making plans, but not always so great at keeping them. A dinner or other casual plan that’s a week away will put me on edge as soon as it’s on my calendar, and I have a habit of feeling really sick the day of (in addition to my regular chronic pain!). A lot of it definitely boils down to that “they don’t like me anyway” feeling, and I get that stuck in my head no matter how well I know them or they know me. It’s so tough! I also relate to what you said about second guessing how you spend your time…but if I could step out of my anxious self, I think I’d tell us that it’s okay to be alone when that feels right, because another social situation will always come along and our friends DO still like us, and when we get out there and be social, it’s okay to struggle a little then too. Forgiveness for yourself, always!

      Like

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