More than a feeling

I can cope to a certain degree with social interactions. It is when there are ‘extra’ interactions that I start to panic.

I so far have been able to cope with each time I am in the customer service role part of my job because that is for a set period of time, so I know my ‘torture’ will only last 90 minutes and then I will be ‘free’, if even for just a little bit.

When the colleague who takes over from me on the front desk is late to do so-like today-even if it is for just a few minutes my already fragile composure starts to crumble.

Like Dante Hicks in Kevin Smith’s film ‘Clerks’  I just want to scream  ‘I’m not even supposed to be here….’

The sad thing is I used to volunteer at a local arts centre in my town, a place I used to work at, and I haven’t done a shift there since mid December, and I won’t be doing another shift for the foreseeable future.

All I have to do is take tickets on the door for the performance, whether it is a film or a play, and maybe make sure no one collapses in the audience (this did once happen to me) and yet I am currently incapable of doing this.

Because they talk to me.

The customers, they make conversation with me.

And I can’t talk to them.

It could be something as simple as ‘do you know where the toilets are?’ and I can respond and do a good impression of a ‘normal’ person but inside my heart rate is elevated and I wish I hadn’t just had that exchange.

I used to love volunteering there. I used to do multiple shifts in one day. I used to come in day after day to help out.

And now I don’t know when, or if, I’ll return.

I can feel my career aspirations and goals become smaller and smaller until at the moment my dream job is one that involves sitting in a room, maybe analysing spreadsheets and never talking to customers or answering the phone.

This isn’t normal.

To be honest I didn’t pick up on my social anxiety until quite recently. I knew I had an aversion to people, but I assumed that was due to shyness. I’ve always been quiet. I am an introvert. I prefer to be on my own then to make stilted small talk with someone. I have always panicked about talking to people, but put that down to insecurity. I have always loathed teachers who tried to force me into talking in class. I have always wondered what the big deal is about coming out of your shell.

I once referred to it as social anxiety but felt like I was over embellishing it, like when you say ‘I’m starving to death’ when really you are a bit peckish. I thought labelling it as social anxiety would make me seem like I was looking for attention.

I could talk to strangers, I just preferred not to. I went out of my way to not talk to people on the phone. In fact I talk to people on the phone so infrequently that on my phone one of my ‘favourite’ contacts is my Dentist!

My name is Flo, and I am anxious.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “More than a feeling”

  1. I am relate so much to the social anxiety aspect of volunteering. I genuinely like volunteering my time and have attempted to engage myself in non profit events as a way to build my resume and have something to do, but I can’t seem to deal with the talking to people aspect and I know it’s really bad. So many times I want to be involved in volunteer projects but find myself chickening out because I just don’t know how to not feel anxious when people try to make small talk with me.

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      1. Glad to hear things are easier for you now. I have never taken medication before so I’m unsure if it could help me.

        Too bad I can’t edit my first comment… I meant to say “I can relate” but “I am relate”. That reads as such a silly sentence lol.

        Like

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