You Need Help: Emerging From Your Hermitage

Welcome to You Need Help! Where you’ve got a problem and yo, we solve it. Or we at least try.


Q:

Hello!

This is my problem:

I spend all my days trying to avoid people who might speak to me, because it terrifies me. What is going on?? I used to be SLIGHTLY like this, and now being anti-social is like a full-time occupation. Like, I think about buying a coffee and then am like “no no self, you can’t do that – you would need to speak to a person.” I mean really. Any help would be v much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Hermit in Training (??)

A:

Hey Hilda, it’s me Riese. Is it okay if I call you Hilda? Okay good, because I’m going to! I volunteered to snatch this question from Laneia’s quick-and-dirty hands because your situation reminds me of one I’ve been in (and managed to get myself out of) quite a few times. I’m pretty sure that’s why you sent us this question, because you wanted one of us to project all of our feelings onto yours and then tell you how to fix your problems, as we personally define them. That’s what we do here at Autostraddle.com, You Need Help division.

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Social anxiety and introversion are near and dear to my heart. The idea of going to a party, a networking event, a bar or anything that involves socializing with more than three people or any strangers at all makes me despondent/nervous. I agree with that comedian who said that for introverts, “canceling plans is our crack.” I’m a homebody who prefers eating take-out and watching Netflix with my girlfriend over ever going to another bar, ever, for the rest of my life. Like most quasi-hermits, I also really enjoy my own solo company, and I imagine you’re the same way.

So, the first step to conquering your problem is recognizing that in order to live a life that is often solitary, which’s a top priority for many introverts, you must also be willing to speak to a lot of strangers. The good news is that the strangers you’ve gotta talk to are interacting with you in a strictly transactional manner — it’s unlikely you’ll be subjected to small talk or asked what you do for a living, you just need coffee and they’re being paid to give it to you. You can’t go to a movie alone without talking to a ticket-taker, you can’t make dinner alone without talking to a grocery store cashier, you can’t work out without asking the front desk guy to scan you in. These interactions might seem to operate in direct opposition to your social needs/wants, but in fact they are perfectly aligned with them.

The first time I got myself out of one of these funks was via “shock therapy.” After nearly a year of interacting with only a select group of friends who indulged even my worst personality quirks, joking about being Emily Dickinson, eating all meals in my room to avoid any roommate interaction and doing my best to pass as male to avoid being talked to by strangers on the street, the rich liar friend who’d enabled me to be a hermit for so long left me on my ass by pulling out of a moving-in-together plan at the very last minute. This led to me having to crash at my then-girlfriend’s house for a month while I looked for a new living situation. She lived in Long Island and worked in the city, which meant every morning I had to take the train in with her and find a location with free WiFi to work in all day. AND I’d just returned to an old part-time job that required lots of phone calls and talking to strangers. Suddenly I went from interacting with 1-2 close friends and maybe one roommate a day to interacting with my girlfriend’s parents and shit-tons of strangers in order to be a human. It was shock therapy, but it worked. I had no choice, so I adapted. The first few days were hard, I felt like I was riding a bike I hadn’t mounted in years, like would my voice sound strange? Is anybody looking at me? Was my order weird? Should I slip my ticket onto the railing or just hand it to him when he passes? ARE THERE RULES HERE THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS BUT ME?? CAN THEY TELL THAT I JUST LEARNED HOW TO TALK? But eventually that one weird interaction with the barista gets lumped in with the ten less-weird interactions until they all flow together in a big muddle of interactions called “life.”

I made a lot of progress, quickly, and sustained this level of capability for a long time — and then it happened again, Hilda! It was last year, I was profoundly depressed and the one person I could rely on for some daily human interaction joined a gym and made some new friends and was getting home later and later. So I barely spoke to anyone, ever — I knew I needed shock therapy again if I was going to be a functioning human being. After a series of mental breakdowns about a really stressful work situation, I decided I needed to take some me-time off, and so I did. I took a weekend trip upstate where I basically planned on getting cheap massages and a haircut and maybe reading some books.

Once I got there, I became immediately terrified.

At 18, I’d gone all the way to Europe by myself, and in all the ensuing years, solo travel has always been a personal passion of mine. So what the fuck was my sudden problem? Before my massage I walked around the spa building smoking a joint like I was staking the place out for a drug bust, trying to figure out where the clerk would be when I walked in, what the room might look like, how busy it seemed.

Later, I eschewed the possibility of interacting with food service professionals by wasting a ton of money at an overpriced grocery store for what I told myself was a “snack plate” but was really a bunch of sad crackers. So the next night, I was gonna do it. I was gonna go to a restaurant and eat by myself! First I paced around the block for an hour in the dark mentally preparing myself. In retrospect, this seems wildly absurd. I cannot relate to that girl walking around in the dark, or understand what she was worried about. In New York and in college, I’d go out to eat by myself several times a week! I walked by the restaurant a few times, giving myself a pep talk before finally going in, honestly afraid of what my voice might sound like when I opened my mouth.

I was confused about sitting at the bar or a bar table and confused about who my server was and convinced that everybody there thought I was a lunatic the whole time and I took the leftovers home even though I didn’t want them ’cause I didn’t want them to think I was wasteful. It was exactly as awkward as I predicted. But I lived to tell the tale. The next few months were transformative, and I quickly found myself back on the road again, eating alone, visiting my activity partner, fending for my own damn self as much as possible.

I’m telling you all this, Hilda, because although your problem might feel deeply embedded in your psyche, it’s really not: you’re probably just out of practice! Which means you’ve gotta make the conscious decision to start practicing again. You’ve gotta put yourself through shock therapy. The best way to do this is to take a trip by yourself, but that might not be affordable for you right now. So, instead, I suggest you do at least one of these things every day for a week:

+ Go to the coffee shop and order something

+ Go into a deli/restaurant, make an order for take-out, wait for it to be ready, pay for it, take it home, and eat it.

+ Go to a movie by yourself

+ Go to a library and check out a book

+ Get a life-related errand off your to-do list done that requires interacting with people (going to the doctor or the DMV, etc.)

+ Call a human being and talk to them.

+ Cross a phone call off your to-do list

Then work your way up to things like eating at a restaurant with waiter service by yourself, going to a coffee shop, attending a group exercise class, volunteering or getting a job where you’ll have to interact with other people. You just have to give yourself a little kick in the ass and do it. It might be like riding a bike, you just have to do it and eventually you’ll remember how it’s done. I’m still hopeless at parties, bars, networking, making friends, and pretty much anything where I’m supposed to genuinely connect with people. But I can handle transactions withs strangers!

Of course, if you feel that this is a social anxiety that is bigger than you’re able to tackle with your own brain and heart, therapy is a good place to start, if you can afford it.

As per usual, feel free to pitch in your own advice in the comments!

Peace Out,

Riese

Riese is the 38-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2836 articles for us.

49 Comments

  1. “I’m pretty sure that’s why you sent us this question, because you wanted one of us to project all of our feelings onto yours and then tell you how to fix your problems, as we personally define them. That’s what we do here at Autostraddle.com, You Need Help division.”

    So. Good.

  2. Some days I feel like the Zippidee Doo Dah guy (oh hi there mister bluebird!) and sometimes I feel like if anyone gets too close to me or talks to me I will die. A few things:

    1. Like Reise says, the longer I go without talking to people, the scarier it is

    2. I love to read books on my phone when I’m in a tight spot (waiting etc.). It transports me into another world so it relaxes me more than playing a game or texting. (AS articles are good for that too, of course. ;-) ) Smartphones are the BEST THING EVER.

    3. Since for me, how I feel about talking to/being with people is pretty dependent on what level my anxiety is at, when it does get bad, I may sometimes need to do other, non-hermit related things to work on my anxiety, like see my therapist, adjust an antidepressant, etc. Particularly if your world is kind of reverse-telescoping like you describe, and it’s becoming harder and harder to do stuff in public, you may want to look at some other stuff as well.

    Lots of consenting internet hugs to you! This is doable! I promise.

    • yes smartphones are lifesavers in this regard. i wonder often if i would’ve actually eaten in the cafeteria in college (circa 2000-2001) like i should have if i’d had a phone to be engaged with while eating and not felt panicked about whether or not i could find anybody to sit with. i had SO much anxiety about the cafeteria i rarely went, which meant i wasted a lot of money! reading the internet on my phone would’ve been so much cheaper.

      • I got a smartphone sophomore year (2009) and it saved my eating. My first year I would eat alone rarely, hate it, and cry in the dining hall bathroom. With the iphone, I would always read the news or a book while I ate and I ate alone all the time, mostly contentedly!

    • I think you have to be careful with the phone distraction—because it’s just that, a distraction from what you’re experiencing. Sometimes you genuinely need a distraction to cope, but sometimes a distraction is just avoiding what’s going on.

      For me, I’ve found using my phone as a distraction gradually increases my anxiety over time because I know I’m avoiding dealing with what’s happening for me. I’ve tried to put the phone down, get honest with myself about what I’m feeling and why, accepting and not judging it, and then refocusing on something I can handle around me.

  3. Self talk. Remind yourself of these realities:
    1. I can leave this situation whenever I want.
    2. If I do leave, even if it is awkward and abrupt, almost no one will ever care.
    Reminding myself that I can usually escape calms the overwhelming feeling of being trapped every time I walk into a room with people in it.
    Remember that your worst case scenario for social awkwardness is probably not worse than something Jennifer Lawrence has done on a red carpet and been applauded for.

    • I use this same technique when I’m getting the “I don’t want to go to this event” feeling right before some social plans. I tell myself if I’m unhappy after 20 minutes or whatever of being there, I’ll buy myself a ride home and it’s fine. Sometimes I stay, sometimes I go, but the escape option is so helpful.

  4. I feel 1000x less crazy so thanks Riese. My version of shock therapy was moving to a city from rural nowhere, moving in with a girl, starting grad school and then breaking up. It was so great!

    Recently, when I was such a hermit I wouldn’t even hang out with friends, I bought a ticket for a performance I wanted to see that cost enough that I couldn’t convince myself that I felt unwell and didn’t want to go and then also planned that day so that there wasn’t enough time between work and the performance to go home but too much to just sit in the theater lobby. Then I had to spend the time browsing bookstores and getting food and coffee.

    So that’s my suggestion — go to the theater.

    But also when it comes to eating out alone, start with a place you’ve been with friends because you’ve already done the stake out part and you will feel a little less like an alien practicing human behavior.

    (Sometimes I also remind myself that if I WAS an alien, I would be a total expert at pretending to be human so that is something to feel good about. But I’m not so sure that is helpful advice.)

    • This is excellent advice. I do something similar when I start to feel like a too much of a weirdo to be around people. Leaving inconvenient scraps of time to use up is the only way to get me to do more than one thing in a day when I don’t have my kids… It’s weird, because all the other mamas think I’m a super extrovert. There’s something about my kids that totally makes me feel like I have a right to order a drink or see a play or whatever, but when I’m alone! yikes. ;)

    • interesting!! i don’t know, i’ve just always done it… i love reading, i’ve lived in a lot of cities in apartments with sub-par kitchens, and most of the time i’d rather read while i eat than have forced conversation with somebody else or have to arrange something social. also i’ve worked in a lot of restaurants and realized how totally common it is. plus, traveling — airports, etc.

    • I’ve always been baffled by the kind of things that most people think are weird to do alone, like eating at a restaurant or especially going to see a movie. I’ve always gone to movies alone and whenever anyone hears about that (me going to a single movie alone, not even the fact that I’ve always done it) they lose their shit at the idea. And that’s so weird to me because the way I see it a movie is a solo activity even if there happens to be someone you know sitting next to you.

      I wonder if this convention of never doing anything alone was somehow started by businesses as a ploy to make more money.

      I usually won’t go into a restaurant alone if it’s small and its empty, because sometimes the employees pay too much attention to me and I don’t like that. But mainly I avoid eating inside restaurants because I like to watch TV while I eat. I wish I could handle reading while eating but I just can’t seem to do it. Even if I figured out how to grow an extra hand, it’s too hard for me to focus on a book if I’m glancing away occasionally.

    • For me, going out to eat alone is really hard because I’m fat. So it’s all about takeaway.

      Everything else I do alone no problem, though. Movies for sure, concerts, readings, theater…I have a lot of anxiety around planning, so my trick is to announce I am doing a thing, & if people want to join me they are welcome to do so. And a lot of time I’d just rather be alone. I’m hypersensitive & worry about other peoples’ experiences and feelings, and often I’d rather just experience the Thing myself.

  5. Oh maaaaan do I relate to this. Especially the part about having weird swings where you’re suddenly faced with a situation you’ve done 1000x in the past without so much as a second thought but now you’re paralyzed with anxiety over. Whoo boy do I FEEL THIS.

    There was a period of time where I would get up the nerve to go do something easy I’d done a million times (like go to my favorite coffee place to get something to go) and then end up sitting in my car in the dark for half an hour or more, sick with anxiety because I was too terrified to even open the door.

    I guess my “shock therapy” was getting a job that I hate which makes me feel awful and face terrible awkward encounters every single day so now it’s just like “Oh, another person will think I’m completely inexcusably awkward? Just one more to the list!”

    So my advice is either get a terrible job where you feel like The Worst all the time (joking, mostly) or something that used to help me is to remember that most people literally don’t care at all. Especially if you’re like me and could only really afford places that broke people could go to. Chances are that cashier/waiter/ticket taker/etc. has seen WAY crazier people today and probably is just counting the hours until they get to go home.

  6. if it feels like too much AND you can’t afford therapy, there are some phone apps for anxiety that a lot of people like (haven’t used any myself but probably google and user reviews could help you pick) and that would also give you something to do when you’re out in the world and it’s scary. or maybe look for peer-support groups which are often free or at least cheaper than individual therapy. also if you think you can’t afford therapy, that might not be true! some therapists provide sliding scales, etc, so if you think it might help, at least check it out before writing it off due to $$.

    good luck friend! it’s a big scary world but we’re all just human beans in it and we can get out there and do stuff if we want to.

  7. Also, you might just inherently dislike interacting with people (or certain forms of interaction, but not others). Before you can help yourself you need to figure out which is the cause and which is the effect: do you avoid interacting with people because of social anxiety, or does interacting with people make you anxious in the same way that eating disgusting food makes you nauseous? Both situations involve feedback loops so it can be hard to differentiate between them. But it’s important to make the distinction because if the truth is that you just hate interacting with people, “shock therapy” as Riese describes it might just amount to torturing yourself, and the long term effect will be debilitating depression.

    Social anxiety seems to be a lot more common, so Riese’s answer will probably be helpful to most people. But also, the fact that social anxiety is talked about so often made it extremely difficult for me to realize that I had this similar sounding but unrelated problem, and I’m sure there are other people with the same confusion.

    Unfortunately writing is really difficult for me and I’m not sure how to give any constructive advice on top of this.

  8. “But eventually that one weird interaction with the barista gets lumped in with the ten less-weird interactions until they all flow together in a big muddle of interactions called “life.””

    This is perfect! I moved for grad school and live alone now and I could feel all of the progress towards being a non-awkward social person I made in the last six years of school seeping out of my bones and into the walls of my apartment. But I’m turning the tide back and last week I asked for help in a store and today I went on a date! And tomorrow I am going to call the repair shop and register a complaint about my service.

    And I’m hoping the same strategy also works for autostraddle comments, because y’all are amazing but it’s still sort of like interaction and therefore scary as heck.

    • YOU DID GOOD!

      also for some reason i find asking for help in a store a lot easier than walking into stores where i know i’ll be asked if i need help every ten minutes. like there are stores i avoid specifically because i know the clerks won’t leave me alone.

  9. Wow, I can relate to this. I have struggled with social anxiety all my life and can’t say I’ve overcome it entirely. What I have noticed, though, is that my fear and hermit-like tendencies tend to increase when I’m overwhelmed with too much interaction. As an introvert, when I’m not able to carve out enough alone time to decompress from a great deal of sociality I react by being progressively less able to carry on those everyday interactions. My environment is already my shock therapy in effect. Instead of pushing myself further into that, what helps me is really taking time to care for myself and let myself be intentionally alone within reason. When I give myself that care, the inner strength and confidence to be social flows from there. My advice would be to remember to care for yourself while you practice being social again. It’s all a process.

    • I feel this way too! I’ve eventually learned that two big social interactions outside of a standard day is about all I can handle—and knowing that about when I’m going to run out of social steam means I deliberately plan my days and weeks (and even vacations) accordingly.

  10. I can go out to a bar, dinner, or a movie alone and I’m cool, I’m chill. But when I’m going to something where there’s an element of “you’re supposed to meet and talk to people here” like a specific event or a meetup, I’m absolutely paralyzed.

    All the general transactions of life I can handle. Probably helps that I’m a barista and have to deal with random people all day. But once my real social life comes into play I’m an absolute mess. I’m finally trying to put myself in more of these situations and a lot of the advice here still basically applies.

    • Yeah I’m the same way, and I can shock therapy myself back into normal transactional interactions, but for an actual social life, i’m totally helpless. even being alone in a car with somebody i’m not related to who isn’t one of my four best friends sends me into a panic.

    • This is my problem too. Transactional things I can handle, also probably due to my work (I teach ESL), but real social life is incredibly hard.

      An event where I know almost no one, but am expected to socialize or network with everyone is the absolute worst. In that case, I try to bring along a trusted companion who is more social. I’m lucky that my best friend is in the same field, so for work events she is my crutch.

  11. So I’m a socially-anxious extravert, which is a hilarious combo but also means my challenges are slightly different. I crave interaction with people… but then when I’m with them, I get scared of talking to them!

    Anyway, this had some really excellent advice as always. Thanks, Riese!

  12. OMG, Hilda, if knowing you are not alone is at all helpful… please know that you are not alone.

    I joke with my therapist that she’s great and all, but what I really need is a tiny, upbeat gnome to go with me everywhere and to constantly remind me that it’s going to be okay/that I can interact with people.

    Except it’s not a joke. I totally need that gnome.

  13. This is great advice! The last time I was between jobs, I became a complete hermit and would sometimes spend an entire day mentally preparing myself to go to the grocery store. My shock treatment was starting my current job in a very small, very social office. I think I spoke twice during the first two months. But the immersion eventually helped and now I love my workspace and am actually lonely when there’s no one around to chat with. Social skills do eventually come back! It just takes some practice and patience.

    I still have my moments of extreme social anxiety though. I find that when I’m freaking out about something horrible like having to show up alone to a social event where I don’t know anyone (my actual worst nightmare), having a little mantra or phrase I can repeat to myself can be calming. Honestly even something as simple as “I am not afraid” can help me snap out of a panic spiral. Sounds silly, but it’s helpful.

    One of my life goals has always been to go travelling by myself. The idea still seems really exhausting and scary, but I’m hoping to make it happen over the next few years.

  14. Dear Hilda, this is hard, for sure. I definitely relate, and have varying levels of struggle with this, too. But I also second Riese’s advice to step gently out of your comfort zone and be in public. Try making social interaction into a game you play with yourself, and celebrate every little victory you have, such as saying hi to the bus driver (yay!), asking a store employee a question about a product (yaaay more words!), and so on. Scary, but then you’re so proud you did it!

    Tiny increments are the way to go, for sure. The more you communicate, the more you’ll be able to communicate. If you want to change, you have the power to change, just like that.

    And on the flip side, if you’re in public on an off day and truly can’t speak in the moment, just pretend you’ve got laryngitis and mouth a few “words” as you walk away (I’ve totally done it, and then no one bothers you)!

  15. I am an ENFJ with social anxiety. I had my anxiety pretty well managed until I was pregnant and then who knows what, possibly all the hormones, spiked it again. Things have calmed down in year three of parenting but I am still feeling it surface at times. Having a kid means I have to do a lot of adulting and I don’t have someone else to hand things off to. I just have to do it.

    When I was 21, I got really sick and the doctors couldn’t figure it out. Turns out celiac disease and also leaky gut/candida overgrowth. I have been gluten free for eight years and I believe it is connected to my anxiety and mental health improving. Not only was I getting crippling social anxiety, but I also had OCD (since childhood), and was getting hit with panic attacks to the point of throwing up. There is a strong gut/brain connection and if you at all have IBS with your anxiety, looking into food connections would be a good idea. Thinking about making a phone call that you can’t avoid and end up running to the toilet? Yep, that’s gut/brain connection and possibly food intolerance.

    Things I have done over the years that has helped:

    Gluten free diet and digestive enzymes.

    Morning Pages journal. It’s just 3 pages of free writing every morning and it gets a lot of gunk out. It can be found in the book The Artist’s Way, and also online because everything is online now.

    Daring myself to do things I am terrified of, like entering a poetry slam and then actually doing poetry regularly for about three years. I miss it. Even the anxiety, which Andrea Gibson once told me was a sign to keep doing it (She said if my legs stop shaking, then stop performing). This falls into shock therapy and lots of things could work for it. Phone calls, eating out, going shopping, going to social gatherings even if I didn’t want to are other things I have done to help myself through my anxiety.

    Lots of physical exercise. My favorites are biking and hot yoga. It is a form of meditation for me. So, meditation if you are into that. Thic Nhat Hanh has some great descriptions of mindful breathing and I used to practice it in random locations like on the train in rush hour or sitting on the steps outside a public building.

    Homeopathy helped me a lot last year. I was sorta seeing this woman and I would get ridiculously anxious just being around her. I have no idea why this was because I am generally confident and open in the early dating stages. I found some articles on homeopathy for anxiety, found the remedy that matched me, and took it before we hung out and a few times during. That helped me a lot (I wasn’t expecting it to) and I didn’t feel drugged out or anything. I had even been anxious about taking the remedy in the first place. Go figure!

    To do lists. They run my life. There is a dry erase board in the kitchen and I write things I need to get done from cleaning the toilet to calling my lawyer. It also houses the grocery list and foods in the fridge that need to get eaten. I think this helps me to feel like I can get things done and visually keep track of it. It also makes me feel more in control of my life, which when I don’t is when I see a lot more anxiety for me. There is satisfaction in crossing things off.

    Writing out what to say. I have done it for phone calls, voicemails, placing orders, and mantras for myself and motivation. Practice it so you know what it will sound like when it comes out of your mouth.

    Remember to take care of yourself, like others have said. Do those little things that you need to do to feel safe and okay and happy. Watch the How to Be Alone poem on youtube. Sing along, alone, to music that makes you feel good. It’s amazing and validating. Back in the day when I worked for Borders (RIP), there was an anxiety and OCD workbook. It looked promising though I couldn’t bring myself to purchase it. Remember to forgive yourself when you feel like you messed up or were really awkward and anxious.

  16. I experience almost the exact same thing, except my anxiety extends to seeing or talking to friends also. Like the other night, I panicked when I got a text from a friend asking if I wanted to have dinner that night and ended up ignoring the text and follow-up phone call because I hadn’t had enough time to mentally prepared myself to be social. I’ve also bailed on so many plans that I’m afraid people are going to start thinking I’m unreliable. I don’t know, maybe I am. What do you do when this kind of anxiety starts making you lose your friends?

    • I’ve dealt with this in a milder way, and what’s helped is being upfront with people about my planning needs, so now my friends really know not to invite me to a same-day thing. Now if I get same-day invites it’s usually pretty casual (and also usually from a friend who always gives me a ride home, so I don’t have to worry about that part either, as a car-free person.) They know it’s about my energy level & not about them. And also, me not going doesn’t cancel *their* plans.

      I don’t have the bailing issue, but I’m also obsessive about planning my week (it may help to know I’m a 200+ film a year person plus a weekly volunteer obligation, so I’m out a lot, though mostly alone) and I have to be honest looking at my week. Yeah, that might be a great event, but it’s also the only night I’m going to be home all week and a girl’s gotta do laundry at some point.

  17. Holy crap, this is MY LIFE. Ever since I was young I have been terrified of interacting with strangers in public. It’s ironic, because now I actually work in a coffee shop, but I still have anxiety about going to a cafe on my own and ordering something! I put off appointments forever because making phone calls literally makes me feel like I’m going to drop dead of a heart attack. I feel like its a major life accomplishment when I go to the cashier in the grocery store instead of the checkout. It’s seriously insane, especially when I have seen hundreds of customers make every stupid mistake imaginable and the only consequence, if anything, was me secretly laughing about it for 5 seconds. I really do think that practicing helps and I love the checklist idea! My big challenge this week is going to my friend’s dad’s birthday party, where I won’t know anyone but her (and very vaguely, her dad).

  18. I really needed to read this. I think my anxiety became way worse after my father passed away. Even though I have my drivers license I don’t drive because I think I’m going to get into an accident. All I do is worry about bills constantly. Occasionally I’ll go out to a bar but I don’t talk to anyone because I think that I’m bothering them. I’m trying to online date but whenever people suggest to meet up I freeze up and won’t reply back because I think something horrible is going to happen. I really love the checklist idea

  19. I am an introvert and a very popular highschool teacher. I am constantly talking to people , but on the weekends I avoid social interactions like a plague. Only recently have I accepted that I only feel badly about my introversion because we are all supposed to be out-going. I realise that I am not happier being out so therefore I stay in. I no longer engage in self-negating behaviour. I don’t want to go out and also I don’t want feel badly about wanting to go out.

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