Anxiety Cave

Photo Credit: Justin Treadway

Photo Credit: Justin Treadway

Last night I went to a film festival. The movies were fun, the crowd was full of familiar faces, and I’m horribly sorry to anyone I talked to.

No one seems to believe me when I say I’m shy. They tell me I’m social, that I could talk to a brick wall, that I’m an organizer and a connector. Combine awkwardness with my stubbornness and I guess, sure, I’m social. I waved at friends, I did the dance over knees and bags to get to the middle of a row for a hug and a quick chat. The whole time thinking  I want to go home I want to go home I want to go home. Give me my couch, my bad scifi dramas, a glass of wine and the man I’ve been seeing, his dogs curled beside us.  I want to go home.

I was so jittery by the end of the night that everything I said felt like a blunt object on my tongue. A sandbag, a brick. We’re headed to get food, come join us! No no no no no.

I love my friends. I love how excited they are about the things I love, how friendly they are to everyone. I have found an incredible community and I am always honored to turn around and find someone smiling at me, including me. I want to go home I want to go home.

There’s a reason I feel more comfortable on a rope in the climbing gym. A rope means a partner is coming to meet me. I’ve never been good with solo adventure. For a while I tried to be, I went to a bar by myself, I did a hike by myself. Yes, singular. I went to ONE BAR alone. I went on ONE SOLO HIKE. I brought a book to the bar, I sat in the sun, I kept looking over my shoulder like someone should be there with me. I am a social creature, but in twos, threes. I can’t focus on multiple conversations, I’m bad at jumping from one to the other. I’m the girl at the party having a very intense conversation in the corner. I’ll talk to a wall, so long as it’s just one wall.

In grad school my friends joked that I was the cruise director. I orchestrated nights out to the local bar, I threw parties, I wanted everyone to be in the same place and getting along. The nights were successful and I hated them until after, when everyone left having enjoyed themselves. At one of them, someone leaned over, you don’t look like you’re having a good time.  I shook my head, I hate this. He looked confused. So why do it? And why? Because someone has too, because everyone else is having a good time. It’s ok. It’s just too loud for me to hear anything.

She Rocks is, essentially, a group made to introduce strangers to each other. This concept is my own personal hell, and yet there I am, every night that I run, waving at strangers in purple. And I love it, as much as it makes me anxious and uncomfortable. It’s funny to think that I would never go to a night that I run and ask people to come to. That is to say, I would never go by myself. Because of this, I love the women who show up, the women braver than me.  They are funny and strong and some have become very dear friends to me. I am lucky.  And still, before every evening, I feel sick to my stomach if I’m headed there alone. I mitigate this by meeting a friend early, by having someone by my side. There are still moments where I feel like the clunkiest robot type woman, trying to talk to a stranger and coming up with gems about the weather, but having a friend there makes everything ok. I don’t know that these women know this—but Devi and Carissa and Elaine and Katie and Karis have saved me more times than I can count.

So if I talked to you last night, I’m sorry for whatever awkwardness came out of my mouth. The chains of, Hi how are you? How are you? I’m good how are you? Maybe you’ll believe me when I say I’m shy. Maybe you’ll come just give me a hug next time. The films were fun though, weren’t they? It was a good night. I just had to go home.