Sounds like some new kind of disease that a drug company would think up to sell a product they have created. But what I am talking about is the experience that you have when you are in the company of other people in social situations. You know what I mean – the shyness that takes over, the sweaty hands, the inability to find anything to say, the butterflies in the stomach and the burning desire to hide somewhere.I’ve been dealing with this all of my life and once again this has become a real problem for me. Lately, I find that when I am with people, even those that I know, the social discomfort takes over. I’m not bad when it’s only one person at a time, but more than that sets me off.
I had been doing really well with this for a long time. I learned to tone down the discomfort I felt and was really good at faking it, a skill I mastered as a teenager when I so desperately wanted to fit in. But with being off work for so long and spending most of my time alone, it has become harder to ignore this part of who I am.
I’ve gotten connected to a really wonderful group of spiritual women and have spent a couple of evenings with them lately. But, even before I walk in the door, that old familiar discomfort takes over and my body and emotions react as has happened so often in my life.
I try to fit in. I try to find things to say. I listen carefully for an opportunity to speak up, but word don’t come out of my mouth, and in fact, I don’t even have any thoughts in my head to give me an idea about what to say. I just sit or stand there in stun a lot of the time- feeling rather foolish – and so unsure of myself. I’ve lost the social banter, the ease of just chatting with people, the comfort of being part of a group.
I feel pretty uncomfortable when this happens, but I am not running away – my usual tactic for social discomfort. And to avoid this all together, I most often just stay at home and avoid people. But I’m not doing this any more.
I want to live a full life and a large part of this is connecting with people, coming out of hiding and letting people get to know me while I get to know them. This has been a missing part of my life this year – just being connected to people. I long for a feeling of belonging to a “tribe”, the group of people where I fit in.
I’ve made a commitment this week to finally come out of hiding and get back out into the world more often and find my tribe. I’ve reached out to other writers to connect via the internet at the Spiritual Author’s Cafe, which anyone who is working on a writing project is welcomed to join.
I have decided to volunteer a couple of afternoons a week at Bibles for Missions – a local thrift store. I plan to keep attending the woman’s group and am setting up times to meet with friends.
I expect that the social discomfort will be with me for a while, but I know from experience that it does go away over time as I get comfortable being with people. There is only one way I’ve learned to cope with this challenge. It’s like the famous book, “Feel the Fear And Do It Anyways” or my favorite strategy, “Fake it till you make it”