I hate being around large groups of people. Even when they are people I know and like. Whenever I find myself in a group of twenty or more, all in a room together, suddenly I am looking around and seeing only bad things. I notice how everyone is dressed up and trying to look their best, while simultaneously looking like they don’t care what they look like, and judging one another, while acting as if they are all such good friends.
And I am no better. I feel awful and strange and judgmental and alone and sad, and yet I smile great big and I make jokes and laugh hard at other people’s jokes, even if I am not sure they are all that funny, and I wear the clothes I think are the cutest and hope no one notices that is what I think.
I can’t wait to leave. As soon as I am in my car again the facade falls away and the emptiness swallows my chest and I am so glad to be alone again. So glad to be running back home to where it is safe and secure and I don’t have to stand around and make awkward eye contact or think of what to say or try and find something to do with my hands and eyes when I get left out of a conversation that is happening right next to me.
It all feels so terrible. And I don’t know why it happens.
When I am in small groups I have a much better time. Even though the conversation is probably very similar I feel completely different about it. I don’t feel the pressure or the rejection that I feel around a large group.
Is this social anxiety? I am guessing it is… does that mean I should stick to small groups, or should I systematically desensitize myself to the larger groups?
In order to desensitize myself I would have to spend lots of time in large groups. So long in fact that I would finally find it boring to be there, and all awkwardness and fear had passed. And then I would have to continue to spend time in large groups on a regular basis in order to maintain that desensitized state.
I suppose it matters what I want to accomplish. If my goals in life will lead me to need to be able to be around large groups of people, then perhaps I should desensitize myself. But wow, that sounds super awful.
In case you were wondering, I spent some time on Friday with a bunch of friends and quite a few more acquaintances. I survived. Earlier that same day I ran for a bit on the treadmill. I don’t know if it was the crowd that wiped me out, or the workout, but either way I was dead tired all day Saturday and most of Sunday. I am not sure how this week will go, but I am up for making it work, whatever happens. Time to get back on the horse or whatever. Let’s see where she takes me.
Until next time remember: You are stronger than you think.