Every Social Thing Is So Hard For Awkward People

by Rebecca Jane Stokes

When you've got anxiety, things that should be totally easy are suddenly rife with challenges and complications. You really, really want to try on this killer shirt you're eyeing, but you really, really, don't want to have to interact with the lady manning the dressing room. Could you bypass her? Probably. Could you bypass her without coming across like a total weirdo or running the risk of being forcibly ejected from the shopping establishment? Probably this is not the case.

To people without anxiety, it might be seem like selfish, immature, or self-indulgent behavior, to insist that other people go first when ordering meals at restaurants or that you don't realize you're humming when you are standing in a crowded subway car. The thing is, you wish you could agree with them. It would be great if these stupid, perpetual worries were something you could grow out of. But so far, that hasn't been the case.

Until that day happens, the best thing you can do is wryly smile at the world and try to the see humor in the everyday disasters you have to contend with. I, for one, am fully aware that it is ridiculous that I won't drop off my laundry to be cleaned because I feel guilty for making someone else do it. But I'm also the first to make fun of myself for my bizarre notions of guilt, and the fact that I fear an affable woman who always pats my cheek when I enter her laundromat to guiltily pick up my freshly folded whites. To that end, here are 9 social encounters that are tough if you've got anxiety.

Ordering Coffee

It's tough. You want a latte. But you also don't want to have to awkwardly make small talk with the same barista you see everyday. You could, of course, go to another coffee location, but that would mean something even worse – TALKING TO STRANGERS. Instead, you do the logical thing and skip coffee altogether #thestruggleisreal.

Finding a Seat on The Subway

There is one person sitting in a seat designed for three people. You could ask them to scoot over by politely saying, "excuse me". Odds are, they would give you side-eye while also providing space for your butt. But that side-eye though. It cuts to the very soul. Better to say nothing and stand for an hour or better yet, quietly insinuate yourself into a non-space without making eye contact.

A Party Where You Don't Know Anyone

Why did you even agree to go to this party? Well, it's too late. You're here now. Let the ground watch in shock and awe as your body transform into that of a massive, possibly stoned bear. You are knocking over dishes of food, you are breaking chairs when you sit in them. Everyone is giving you a wide berth and for this you cannot fault them.

A Party Where You Know Everyone

This is almost worse than a party where you know no one at all. Everybody you know is there, all throwing down and making merry. Whom do you approach first? Do you dance? Do your work friends know that your not-work friends are here? Best to stand back from the throng and let everyone come to you. Yes...yes, that will work (it probably won't but it's literally all you are capable of doing.)

Being Too Early To Anything

I would rather walk around the block three hundred times in icy rainy then EVER have to be the first person at a party. Oh sure, the hosts will definitely be gracious but there's no escaping the fact that you are the overeager boob making everyone, yourself most of all, uncomfortable.

Driving With Friends

They want to talk! They want to listen to the radio! "ROAD TRIP!" they all yell and banter. Don't they understand that this is a life-and-death scenario that requires all the concentration you can possibly muster?! Apparently not, or the would not be blasting NPR quite so loudly.

Walking The Dog

Your dog, simply put, does not respect you. That's fine when you're at home and no one can hear him bark at you to get you to make room for him on the couch, but when you are walking down the street and it is not quite clear who is walking whom, the time has come to hang your head in shame and be glad you do not regularly speak with your neighbors.

Starting a New Job

"Just be normal, just be normal, just be normal." You are never normal.

Going on Dates

Everything was going fine in your new relationship when you were just "hanging out". But now you're "DATING" – the pressure is on. And you know what pressure does to you when you're awkward and anxious? It makes you a strange, utterly undatable kind of human being. It's shocking that anyone has ever consented to get naked with you even once in your entire life.

Images: Getty; Giphy(9)