The Pursuit of Healthiness

The Pursuit of Healthiness
Your Guide to Getting Healthy

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friendships According to a Socially Awkward Introvert

Last night, to be quite honest, I returned from dinner with an old friend a little tipsy. I knew my friend for quite a long time and she made a comment to say I looked a little drunk but wasn't really acting like it. In my head, I could sense the change, but it's not something she would've noticed.

I've known this friend for many, many years so the years of being awkward with her has gone away. I can talk to her about anything, things many other people would cringe at.

When I entered this semester of college, I realized that I had not made any friends like that at school. When I'm at school, there's only one person I talk to, but she's abroad and I've felt incredibly lonely. I moved into a new suite with five near strangers. Although I say hello and good morning to them, that's all the conversations we really share.

Last night, I found my suitemates gathered on the living room floor playing cards. They welcomed me, like they always do, and invited me to play. They are a very extroverted and friendly bunch. Ordinarily, I would have muttered an apology that I couldn't play and shuffled off to my room, quietly shutting the door behind me. But I was tipsy enough to say that of course I'd play and, furthermore, I'd win. They made room in their little circle and I sat down to join.

I didn't win, but I laughed like crazy and had so much fun with them. They're just such good people. They invited me to brunch the next morning and I happily accepted.

This morning, only three of them could go to brunch. They said good morning, and I found myself nearly whispering it back. They asked me what I had planned for the day and they strained to hear my quiet voice. At brunch, I fell silent, not sure how to add to the conversation. They talked about friends I didn't know and movies I hadn't seen and I felt embarrassed and lost. Every move I made felt wrong, every muttered word felt wrong. I couldn't wait to get back to my room and shut the door again.

Later in the day, I said hello as two of them sat on their beds in their room. The one that had been the friendliest said goodbye to me rather quickly and I walked back to my room, quietly shutting the door. For hours, I went over her words and the look on her face. Did I screw up? Did I insult her? Does she think I don't want to talk to her?

I reopened the door as the five of them now sit in the living room, trying to figure out what to watch, "Powerpuff Girls" or "Courage the Cowardly Dog." I wonder if they'll invite me to join them again tonight, but I get the feeling that I won't be.

In my mind, I know I'm not a great friend. I don't know how to be one. Friendships usually fall into my lap by accident and I end up grateful when people stay. I never know why.

For those of you that are not cursed with it, social anxiety often manifests like this, where fears of loneliness and fears of friendships intertwine enough that it's just a constant fear of being in public. The only time I'm not in fear is when I am alone, but even then it's a fear because people are right outside the door.

Do you know the "Twilight Zone" episode when the teller finds himself the last man on earth? At first, he panics and then he finds all the books he always wanted to read. I can relate to that feeling, the relief of being alone. Of course, that relief can't last. I always took the glasses breaking to be a metaphor of sorts for me, when the facade breaks. It turns from being alone to loneliness.

The girl I feared hated me just approached me and invited me to a concert. If that's not the definition of the fear of a socially anxious person, I really don't know what is. The paranoia in me grew to the point my stomach hurt and yet I had nothing to be anxious about. When she left, the anxiety started to grow again, but that's the curse I hope to someday tame.

No comments:

Post a Comment