It was just your average invitation…a farewell at a well-known venue. A place I had been before and with people that I knew, however, I was a nervous ball of energy and my anxiety seemed to be triggered to a degree in which I hadn’t experienced for a while.
Before leaving, I had visions of being alone. To be fair, I was arriving by myself which had me a little fearful.
What if I can’t find anyone?
What if they are all drunk?
What if I end up standing alone?
On the thoughts went creating worst case scenarios, social blunders and unfortunate run ins. I tried meditation, I attempted to have a shower, I created ways to handle certain situations but my anxiety was rising instead of subsiding.
I decided the only way through it was just to go. Like a band aid rip it off fast. Whatever happens, I told myself, I could handle it. I could have easily let my anxiety win out, let the thoughts play out long enough to immobilise me but I choose to challenge myself, to push outside of my comfort zone. I rode the waves of anxiety repeating the mantra; “I can do it.”
Arriving totally alone, with my head held high, I walked in. As luck would have it, I easily found the crowd of people I knew. More so, a friend so kindly remembered that large social gatherings were a slight challenge for me. The whole night he made the effort of holding a conversation with me and he regularly checked in to make sure I was okay. In those moments, I felt safe and understood.
You see, anxiety tries to make BIG waves. Large enough to trap us in the feelings of insecurity and unworthiness. To stop us from living the life we want and doing the things that bring us joy. She super charges the fear voice and creates these absolute worst case scenarios so far from reality that when examined are just plain silly. If ignored, anxiety grows louder, more intense and more demanding. We need to step out of the river of denial and stop for a moment. We need to really listen to what anxiety is trying to tell us. To overcome the thoughts and feelings that accompanies anxiety we must first hear her.
Acknowledge the presence of the emotion and thoughts and ask her, “What is it that you fear the most?” To generate the compassion, soothing and nurturing voice. I hear you, we tell her, but we are going to do it.
At times, my worst case scenario came true. I found myself alone, the others having walked away from me. And what happened to me? Absolutely nothing. I smiled, got a glass of water, told myself that I am okay and went in search for people that I knew.
That night, I taught my anxiety that it is okay to stand alone. That at times, yes I may feel awkward, uncomfortable and self-conscious and that is completely natural. While, in some areas of personal development I am exceeding, there are others that may take me longer to progress in. For me, large social situations are scary and a challenge I am working on overcoming. Anxiety doesn’t lessen overnight nor is there really a cure. It is about acceptance. Acceptance of emotions, of feelings and of thoughts. Equally important, it is challenging the anxiety. Showing her that we are capable and we are strong. That no matter what life throws at us, the real or imagined, we can conquer, we can rise and we can get through it. At the end of that, is pure elation and a feeling of accomplishment because despite what we feel, we pushed through.