Thursday, June 21, 2012

Social Anxiety

If you've read my blog before, you'll realize that I'm a geek, or, if you prefer, a big nerd.  I'm cool with that.  It's who I am.  One of the reasons that I am who I am is because of social anxiety.  In high school, I would escape social situations by playing video games alone at home and only hanging out with the few close friends that I had.  I've always felt anxious in social situations, but only lately have I realized that even though work is obviously a social situation, I don't feel anxiety about going to work or meetings at work.

I started to wonder why this was true.  I thought that if I could figure out why I felt different about work that I could somehow apply that to normal social situations.  So far, the only thing that I can think of is that I don't see the people I work with as social entities.  That's hard to explain; even though I like most of the people around me at work, I guess that I don't feel like I'm there to be social.  I'm there to work.  I'm not a psychologist by any means, so I don't know if that's the right answer or not, but it presents a problem if that's true.  If that's true, it means that I can't apply it to other social situations because I am in those situations specifically to socialize.  I'm also not saying that I don't feel social anxiety while at work.  Running into someone you know just walking down the hall at work is quite an awkward situation for me.  Do I look in their direction?  When should I acknowledge them?  How do I acknowledge them?  I don't know how other people do it so effortlessly.

Just to be clear, the anxiety I feel about social situations isn't just a tiny amount of stress.  It's a nearly crippling, hard to breathe level of stress.  Just yesterday I had a company social event (we bowled at a fancy bowling alley place called Pinstripes).  Before the event, as I was driving there, I was practically in a panicked state.  I was thinking over and over that I didn't have to go and that I should just skip it.  Once I was there, the stress lessened, but I could still feel it in my gut the whole time I was there.

So, what do I do?  I push through the feelings as best I can.  Yesterday, I just forced myself to go inside and talk and bowl and try to have fun.  I still felt terribly awkward the whole time and hope that others didn't pick up on that.  In many social situations (such as parties), I can just stand around and not talk to anyone.  In these situations, I'm afraid that I come off as a pretentious jerk who doesn't want to talk to anyone.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  I would love to talk to people and get to know them, but I'm crippled by anxiety over saying the wrong thing, or not being able to follow social customs.  So, I just stay quiet and out of everyone's way.

Just writing about this is hard.  I don't even know why I decided to write about this at all.  Maybe I'm wondering how other people who have social anxiety handle it.  If you feel like sharing, leave a comment.  Maybe I hope that getting this off my chest will help me deal with the issue.  I don't know.  Sometimes I feel like Raj from The Big Bang Theory, but not as extreme and more general than just not being able to talk to pretty girls.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Story: Crooked Tree

I'm doing another Flash Fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig.  This story totally evolved from what I had first imagined, but I really like where it went and I hope you like it too.

Edit: Added the picture hosted on Chuck's site.  FYI, the image is Copyright Chuck Wendig and I claim no rights to the image.


Crooked TreeMy mother always tells me not to play by the crooked tree, but I can't help myself.  I think that the tree is very interesting to look at and fun to play around and climb on.  She says that the tree is cursed and I don't know what she means by that, but I'm sure that the tree means well.

I know that the tree is dying, but every spring it still grows new leaves and last year a bird had a nest in it.  My father says that the tree will fall all the way down soon.  That makes me sad.  I will miss the tree when it's gone.  The tree is my best friend.

My mother won't go near the tree and refuses to let my father mow that part of the backyard.  She says that the tree is on the edge of our property anyway, so it's fine that the grass is long there.  I like the long grass and shrubs that grow near the tree.  Sometimes I hide in them when I feel like being alone.  My mother is always very cross with me when she finds me hiding from her there.

My father sometimes tries to get mother to let him cut down the tree.  He says that the bad memories will go with the tree.  I don't know what bad memories they are talking about, I only ever remember the tree fondly.  She always refuses, but I don't really know why.  If I didn't like the tree as much as she doesn't, I would let my father take it away.  I'm always happier when he takes the darkness away at night.  I don't like the darkness and he's happy to make it go away for me.  My mother might be happier if she let my father take the tree away.

I'm happy that the tree is still there.  I often wonder why the tree is so crooked, none of the other trees are crooked like that one.  I asked my father about why it was crooked.  He looked very sad and said that something bad happened ten years ago.  I wonder why he is so sad, but I don't ask him about it because I don't like it when people are sad.  I gave him a big hug and that made him happy again.

Yesterday, I heard my parents talking about the tree when they thought I wasn't listening.  They were talking about a ten year old boy named Bobby who got hurt when the tree became crooked.  I felt sad for that boy and wondered if I knew him.  My name is Bobby and it would be nice to know another boy named Bobby.  Maybe he could play with me and my crooked tree.