Monday, December 6, 2010

I didn't cry.


My emotional defenses were wearing thin. I kept telling myself, "Please don't cry, Dean. Please don't cry. Just a little more and I'll be out of here."

Today was the annual potluck Christmas party at my city job. Among the festivities, everyone in my department brings a dish (or two) and just plays games and eats for several hours.

The first Christmas party a few years back left me in tears because I felt so out of place. I CANNOT handle social situations! I swore never to do it again. And these are people I actually know and like. That's the sad part.

I dread it every year. There's never enough seats or anywhere to eat. Everybody just grabs whatever office chair they can find, eating at cluttered desks. But I wanted to at least make an attempt this time.

After swiping in today, I went into the back where the party was already in full swing.

As I put my things away, one of my coworkers affectionally said in front of everybody, "There's Dean the baker and pasta maker." (I brought two cakes and pasta salad as my contribution). That was all it took to make me uncomfortable enough to leave.

I quietly exited to use the bathroom and never went back to the party! I just stayed out on the floor and finished things up front....preoccupying myself with work.


A part of me felt defeated, like I failed, but I'm tired of trying to be something I'm not.

I'm awkward, boring, quiet. I don't do well at small talk and groups of people make me anxious, make me shut down. Maybe I should just accept that.

And when I went to the back to use the bathroom a couple hours later, I could hear the laughter and boisterous activity through the office doors. That's just not me, I thought.

At that point I felt very alone and sad yet that seemed normal and comfortable to me.

I must've checked my watch a hundred times. It seemed like the LONGEST four hours. I just wanted the workday to be over with.

And finally I was on the train home. I closed my eyes and sighed because I got through the day....and I didn't cry.

94 comments:

lmenheere said...

I have a work party next week sometime and I have a feeling its going to be pretty awkward as well. I'm a painfully shy person and hardly talk to any of my coworkers. I try, I really do, but I just can't talk to a lot of people openly. I just feel like nothing I say is interesting, or that I will get made fun of, or I just don't know what to say. Because of this I feel like I don't really have any good friends at work that I can go hangout with outside of work.
I'll probably just stuff my face with food and keep a low profile most of the night lol.

Sandy Mastroni said...

Dean
I have JURY DUTY coming up NEXT year in April .... They KEEP calling me back every three years and even right now I think of going in APRIL ... I think of this every day and dread it
I HATE being ANYWHERE where there are lots of people
and that includes weddings and parties and funerals
I would rather be with ONE person !
I can't do it either
Say a prayer that I don't cry at Jury duty ... ha ha
they never pick me anyway because I bring my Bible so they think I'm a freak
I can't make small talk either
but think of it this way > none of those people have ever read Tolstoy or listened to great music
THEY don't know how to be alone with themselves and alone with God
They're the dopes

bricarwaller said...

I'm glad you made it through the day! I also have problems with large groups. I do much better one on one. I feel like I have to be completely prepared for those kind of situations. I too have longingly wished that I was a partier, at least a little less socially awkward. You are who you are and sometimes its just easier to accept it and not beat yourself up about it:)

David Waters said...

it sadens me to read this...I wish we could all see ourselves like others do...I have had many times when the feeling of not fitting in has kept me from being a part...then someone will say something sweet to me, and I never understand how they see me the way they do, surely they must be crazy...It's tough, I feel for you friend, but bravo...you didnt cry:)

hugs

naturgesetz said...

Dean,

I love you.

Dean Grey said...

lmenheere!

You know exactly how I feel then.

The best of luck to you next week, girl!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sandy!

Maybe I should bring a bible with me to work! LOL

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

bricarwaller!

I think that's part of the problem, Carrie. I keep wishing I was like all the outgoing people but I'm not.

But is accepting that a form of defeat? I'm not sure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

David Waters!

I could use the hugs right now!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

naturgesetz!

You are a sweetheart.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I appreciate everyone's supportive words!

-Dean

n.lea. said...

social situations are NOT for everyone and that doesn't mean you like the people any less, it simply means it isn't your element.

You seem to be the type that enjoys intimate settings. one one or one to two people. Don't ever let anyone make you feel badly for being whom you are.

what helps me to remember that its ok to be me is a say that goes something like this...

those it matters to don't matter and those it doesn't matter to matter ;) or something along those lines.

anyway, we must all celebrate our wins. you didn't cry and you made the attempt. ;)

Bill said...

I hate parties. I hate large groups of people. I do like to eat. I usually can manage to eat, and then run like hell! I have felt like crying many times when people close me in. You're braver than I am actually. I have to take a pill before I go to a party. Otherwise I wouldn't even make it in the door.

Paul said...

I have the same reaction to our potluck Christmas party at work - so you are not alone! You've perhaps considered this before - that you are an introvert. Your reaction to the party, and the words you use to describe it, sound quite characteristic of introverts to me. Perhaps you would find a book called "The Introvert Advantage" helpful (I would think the local public library would have a copy). Good luck!

LightChaser said...

>I'm awkward, boring, quiet.

You're not awkward and you're not boring-- far from it. I think your style, your art, and you are hip.

You can be quiet though. Nothing wrong with that.

Nadya Avila Chant said...

Wow. And here I thought it was just me. I love blogging because I'm learning that my fellow bloggers are actually much like me, and that makes me suspect that I'm really not so different from the people I encounter at work, at school, and elsewhere. Thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

i know EXACTLY how you feel. and a lot of times I feel like my friends are drifting away because of it, but I'm not going to force myself to be what I'm not.

DuckieSteph said...

I just discovered this blog, and this post alone was enough to make me follow. When I read more of them, I was taken aback. You're such a sweetheart, and I think I could learn so much from you. I'm glad I found your blog, and [of course] thank you for blogging! =]

melon said...

Hi Dean =)

Cheer up, accepting this isn't defeat, sometimes all thoes outgoing people have to be that way because they are too afraid that when it all calms down, they have nothing to show. Its not their fault for being out going, just like its not your fault for being who you are =) its not defeat, its called understanding yourself and doing what makes you feel comfortable! =)

Слава К. said...

Зачем плакать, я вообще по английски плохо понимаю, но вроде тут говориться что этот блоггер рыдал? Я в России не плачу, потому что мои слезы застывают на морозе, и приходиться просить медведя ещё раз сходить за водкой ((( . Welcome in Russia!

stacy said...

hey i totaly understand wat u went thru... but i think u can much much better than dis... u can also mak small talk.. jus 4 d heck of it.. its nt dat dificult.. ppl do it al d time.. moreover it ll help u feel more comfy in office as well.. giv it a try dude.. u ll b free wen u accomplish it

Chander said...

Dean ...

Accepting what and how you are is not defeat; it is a realization that helps one grow.

The way I look at things, we all have a reason to be the way we are, this reason goes way beyond our understanding most of the times.

I would suggest you do things that make you happy because thats all what life is about. We do everything just to be happy; its sad that as we grow up we forget the basic reason of why we are doing what we are doing.

Hugs and best wishes
CG

Elenchus said...

I've always found it interesting that it is amongst people that one can often feel the most lonely. When alone, one doesn't necessarily feel lonely at all.

Sometimes when I have felt uncomfortable in a situation, I have simply voiced that to somebody there, and in the saying of it, the feeling vanished. I suppose it's making a little connection...not necessarily with another person, but with the honesty of who you are. 'I am uncomfortable.' And that's just fine.

E x

http://philosopher-without-a-cause.blogspot.com/

Clara Casey said...

Hello Dean,

Though I myself am quite outgoing in social situations, but actually have been finding myself to be rather introverted.
I completely understand where you are coming from.

I turned 20 this year and have found myself staying in a lot more than I have before. I no longer see the point in going to crowded bars to be shoved around by people you will most likely never see again.
Even gatherings where I know everybody in attendance can be irritating. Why gather in a crowded room filled with people when you could sit in a peaceful and quiet room with the only people who really matter?


Congrats on the blog of note! I look forward to reading about more of your life.

I would love feedback on my own if you find the time.

http://claracasey.blogspot.com/

Thanks! Clara

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I really don't do parties at all. Even though I'm fairly comfortable and confident on a one to one basis, put me in a situation where there are more people, I get very out of my league.

CJ xx

Cynthia said...

Last year, I was idiot enough to try to organize the Christmas party at my boss' house. It was horrible: I was nervous, and everyone else was, too. As people showed up, there was a football game on. They didn't start talking; they went to the t.v. And then...a viagra commercial came on, and everyone stayed glued to the tube. No one talked until, 24 minutes later, the game ended. Nervous conversation erupted, everyone being careful to not touch a thing, lest it break into a million pieces and then the boss might fire you - just in time for Christmas.
Well, I must say your blog resonates with me. I have a job I desperately want to leave in search for the arts/crafts/writer's life, too. I blog now, and use my free time in an attempt to paint, write, research, and I have given myself 6 months to get out. That's when my job will be cut anyways.
Keep writing, and I'll keep reading. :)

Brahm (alfred lives here) said...

Dean - warm thoughts coming your way!

Sorry you had to go through that, my guess is they all want only the best for you and some day it will be ok for you to mix and mingle. Until then, you do only what works for you!

Megan said...

I know how you feel, Dean! I am the same way. Good luck with the next office party.

Andy said...

Dude, you seem like a young guy so I'll give you some insight from someone who is a bit...older. Anxiety and depression just get worse with age. I know that's not going to make you feel better right now. However, working to make these issues manageable should be a high priority for you. Good decisions pay off for years. Good luck.

Nicole said...

I'm totally the same way. I've always been an introvert. And the older I get, the less and less I force myself to be social.

This Friday is our holiday brunch and it's the same scenario as what you described. Not enough chairs. A lot of people. Lots of chatting and laughter.

I'll do what I always do: Get my waffle and go back into my office to eat it in peace and quiet and solitude. It's what makes me feel comfortable. I'm an introvert and I've learned to accept it instead of forcing myself to be someone I'm not.

It was nice to read this post because I can so closely relate.

Sarah said...

Hey, I just discovered your blog (did you know it's a "Blog of Note"?), and I love your honesty.

Glad you didn't cry :)

Also, I hope you know you're not boring. I think introverts are the most interesting people.

WOL said...

You'd fit in my group, Dean. You bring the goodies and I'll make the beverage of choice, and we'll sit down in a comfy chair, have a good nosh and chase a conversation where ever it wants to go.

The ironic thing is that if you could hear the thoughts of the other people at the party, you'd be surprised at how much they are like yours. I, too, have a hard time fitting into groups with which I have nothing in common -- which is about 99% of the groups I find myself in. I suppose the only reason I don't feel as lonely as you do is that I'm part Gemini -- (that would be "Myself" and "I" -- "Me" is a Taurus.) Don't let the angst pile up. Chanel it into your art, else you'll drown. Big e-Hug, dear soul.

Eddy said...

Awkward, boring, quiet, not good at small talk... Dean, you are definitely not alone. I'd be more than happy to stay home and read a book or watch a movie, than go to a party where people are trying way too hard.

Peace,
Eddy

Katie said...

There is nothing worse than being forced to socialize! I am friends with my coworkers too, but when you have to force a party or whatever, then it gets awkward. For seemingly no reason.

I really enjoy the candidness (is that a word?) of you blog. Congrats on being a BON.

:)

Mercedes said...

Perhaps you should create a glitter bomb to go off at said parties. That would make me giggle :)
I never say anything at work parties either and would much rather be.... working. Congrats on not crying. I've done it. It's lame.

LuckyPenny said...

Dean,

Congratulations on making it through the day. It sounds like you have made a lot of progress from a couple of years ago.

I too suffer from anxiety around large crowds. I'm fine when it's a one to one conversation, but add a few more people to the mix and I'm the person at the edge of the chat sipping my drink, nodding away like the Churchill dog and clock watching trying to get away!

But it isn't all bad. Over the years I've made myself be more social and though I haven't enjoyed most of it, I have gotten something out of it. Mainly some very close friends and a sense of personal satisfaction you get from being included.

If it is still not your cup of tea, don't worry or be too hard on yourself. You are completly normal. The problem with realising this is that you always see the confident people as the rest of us hide within walls or ourselves.

Just listen to yourself, do what makes yourself happy and you'll find your way in the end. You're doing well so far from what I have read.

Good luck,

x

Anonymous said...

At least you showed up and were very brave, Dean. Honestly, you have got to like the place to put yourself throughit huh? Take comfort my friend and little steps in your life. Well done and move on. Bless your heart in two places Dean!!
Brian-Belfast (Northern Ireland).

Mind Of Mine said...

Awh man, it hurts me to read stuff like this. Joining in and having fun is not being dishonest to who you are, I want to help you so bad, but I don't know how!

Rebecca said...

I think that any sort of forced "social" work gathering always ends up in misery unless you are truly blessed to work with good co-workers and even then it's awkward because of the "forced" part.

I don't think there's anything wrong with not being a social person...everyone is different!

Tammy's Studio said...

I wish I could give you a hug. I don't do well in large groups but I'm "ok" in small ones. I'm also a quiet person in public, not so much with people I know very well.. such as extremely close friends and family.

I remember having to walk out of classes in college for fear of fainting in front of the whole class when having an anxiety attack. It's amazing how our personal experiences and thoughts can turn out bodies into time bombs

Thankfully my Dr is kind enough to give me medication for those times.

I'm far to much of a shut in and I know I need to do something about it but it's taking those first steps that seem so monumental.

I'll pray for you Dean! God Bless!

just a though... said...

its crazy right? this "something must be wrong with me cause I'm not like them" thought...
I like being a hermit! I enjoy quiet time by myself with a good book! I don't like loud, crowded gatherings!
If that's you, that's all OK!!!
But hey...you are "Dean- the baker and pasta maker"...that's you too!
I can guarantee that there were several people there who felt just as uncomfortable as you. Don't sell yourself short, you're way more than you think! :)

blue roses said...

Dean, I know how you feel! I think small talk is one of the worst things ever. I've always felt like a socially awkward person and it always made me mad at myself. But once in a while I would just let myself go and be crazy and it felt amazing (of course part of me afterwards would be screaming 'how on earth could you do that? You made yourself look stupid!)
However, I've had to meet so many new people lately, I've had to learn how to branch out. (I lived in NC for years, and then my parents and I moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands across the ocean!)
So, I thought I would never make friends...but along the way I learned some tricks to feeling less socially awkward when trying to 'join the group' and/or meet new people, etc.
1. Smile. People will accept you easily if you smile and they will treat you better (unless they are mean, and then you know to avoid them)
2. When you feel nervous when people are paying attention to you, talking to you, etc. pinch your middle fingers to your thumbs. It makes you feel less nervous and concentrate on what's happening.
3. People can't read your mind, no matter how much you think they can. Use confident body language (good posture-shoulders back, head up) and you won't feel like people are looking down on you like you are inferior.
4. When a person thinks they are good-looking, confident, or socially adequate in their head, (or in other words, try to have self-esteem) other people will actually view that person as good-looking, confident, or socially adequate. So, if you want to come accross as one of those, just try to think that you are that.
5. People will always see you different than how you see yourself. They will always judge you by how you carry yourself. So if you see yourself as socially worthless, but carry yourself as a confident person, people will see you as a confident person, and maybe they will talk to you, and you won't feel so bad about yourself anymore.
These may not work all the time, but doing these things certainly got me through years of changing high schools, high school bullies, and moving to new places and having to make new friends. Don't get me wrong, don't try to be something you are not. Don't talk to people you don't want to be like. But, believe in yourself some. It will give you some joy.
<3
praying for you!

RAD said...

hugs...and if you did cry I would have some tissue for you... xo

...shes gone mad said...

I like eye catchy reads. Mind if I stay a while?

Kae. Y. R. said...

Aww, I know how you feel. But why put yourself through that? So you're not like other people, making small talk and laughing at silly jokes. That's okay.

Anonymous said...

Dang, I know what you feel.
It's never easy to be somebody else.

Like you, I just suck on gatherings..never been better. tsktsk.

Sarahf said...

I just found you on Blogs of Note, and I'm so glad I did. I also hate big groups, and living in Japan makes it harder. Anything that makes you so unhappy isn't worth it. Just be you, not who you think you should be.

The Mother Experiment said...

Thank you for writing this. I can identify with it lots. I used to drive myself nuts trying to enjoy parties and gatherings, when I really just think they are uncomfortable, awkward, crowded and noisy. I don't have any advice for you, sorry, except maybe stick to someone you know or see if theres any tasks you can keep yourself busy with like helping with food. Don't feel like you have failed though, you really tried and you should be proud of yourself for that, it takes real courage.

J D said...

Terrible party guy - but a good writer. :) I dislike parties also. Just went to a Chanukah party for my synagogue this week. Didn't look forward to it - but i made a point to say hello to everyone and be friendly.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I know who you feel. I want to connect with people, but at the same time I want to run away from them?! It's bizarre. Currently I'm in a really bad slump. (I think it'll pass, but I really need to get out more.... but I can't).

I do well with someone that I trust and that I'm good friends with. Then I can do relatively well at social events if I have my life-line friend along side. For me it's best to have a life-line friend who is the "talker". Unfortunately my 'life-line" friend has moved away and I'm stumped.....

Here's some good news (you probably already know this)..... You're blog has been featured as "A Blog of Note" by Blogger! Congrats!!!!

Amy said...

I know how you feel, sometimes large groups of people are jsut to overwhelming. especially when you dont know many people at events. Or when your friends want you to come out and do things and you just dont want to because of being unable to cope in certain social situations!

Ryan said...

I can understand how you feel. I feel like you do sometimes. I don't like HUGE social interactions because I am simply better on a personal level. I don't feel like I can really make a connection with a room full of people, even if I know them all. I don't know where to go or who I should talk too first. And now that I am the manager I have to organize the company party! lol The funny thing is in small groups I do most of the talking and love to tell jokes and entertain. I am just odd like that. lol but one this is for sure, you are not alone! Some times when I feel awkward it helps just to know that.

Evan said...

It sounds as though your experiencing symptoms of Agoraphobia, and it sounds miserable. Im no therapist, but you should seek one out, life shouldn't be so arduous, it's supposed to be fun! Good luck!!!

Amanda said...

I have sat here and read every blog entry that you have posted all in one sitting. My daughter had started blogging recently and I started looking around to see what it was about. I was hooked from your first entry. She is also an artist, mostly manga, and will be 16 in February. I have told her about you and I think she will find a lot of inspiration in your postings. I would love to stay in touch as your experiences have moved me. As another without answers to life all I can offer is that I believe you to be very valuable, the ups and downs unfortunately are part of all our lives, and own who you are. Anti-social is an ugly way to describe someone who is gifted in unconventional ways and with an exceptional view of everything around you. Keep going, we are all here for you.

BoredJoker said...

I completely relate.
I'm misanthropic and antisocial without really meaning to be. I crave company and friends but then when it actually gets into dealing with people...I can't do it.

David, you have a good point, too. It has happened to me repeatedly where someone I would love to be like offhandedly says something about how "cool" I am, and I get completely thrown. I have to do the head-shake double-take and try not to scream "WHAT?" as I begin to snicker.

The Wanderer said...

Hi Dean,

I found your blog through the blogs of note listing on the blogger homepage. And I must tell you that its a real pleasure to look at all your work here. Keep up the great work! Good luck!

The Wanderer

P.S.: About the office party, glad you made it through. A quick thought here though: Do you think if you are being brought to this situation again and again, you should create a plan to combat this the next time? I agree retreating into your comfort zone is one option and I don't think defeat is associated with it. But imagine if you are able to find a different option, it may lead you to exploring your own personality. It's like finding another medium to paint.
Sometimes we just think the problem is bigger than ourselves, but may be over the years we grew up and the problem wasn't as much as we thought it was. Not sure if I make sense to you :) Feel free to disagree :)

Kitsune said...

You remind me of me in a way. I'm awkward but not to the point of tears.

I commonly refer to myself as being socially retarded because I'm painfully quiet and social situations make me nervous.
I don't want to be this way forever, I used to tell myself I was 'mysterious' but really I'm just scared.

I refuse to go through life scared even though my quiet personality is something I've carried with me my whole life. Its a characteristic I associate wholeheartedly with who I am.

I'm at a turning point now. I get to experience me for me... I'm going to push myself OUTSIDE my comfort zone and fake it till I make it.

I hope everything works out for you :-)

dennicapearl said...

im glad you reinvented your perspective on how to look at social situations.

if something makes you uncomfortable, you shouldn't have to put yourself through the awkwardness (:

thanks for being genuine. there are far too many precocious people in the world.

<3

Aleksandra Robinson said...

You know what? Not everyone is a social butterfly. And that's totally OK. I just wish that more people were sensitive to that in other people and make things easier on them. It's OK to not want to be the center of attention. It's OK to not like parties. Don't let other people tell you how you should be.

Love your blog, by the way. :)

Star said...

Social circumstances forced me to go to large social gatherings during which I was forced to take a relatively active part. So tiring. So many people saying such uninteresting things, and almost no one with whom to share the things I love. In those three years, chance brought my husband and I into contact with a delightful couple, who have remained fascinating friends. That's already enough pay back for all that effort (plus, it's over, Thank The Cosmos). The experience did force me to become a bit more comfortable in similar situations, but I also discovered that it's perfectly O.K. to be quiet and to take sanity breaks to cut the time into do-able spurts. In fact, letting others talk is much less effort, and, with a handful of stock questions to prod them, others usually can't wait to talk, talk, talk. And they'll think you're marvelous. Especially if you find other shy people, and help them feel more at ease. Helping others will help you. P.S., I thought the co-worker's comment was a nice compliment, finding a way to help you feel part of the group. How did you interpret it? Congrats, too, on the "Blogs of Note"; that's how I found yours.

Jenna said...

I just found your blog. Did you know you were featured on the "Blogs of Note" part of Dashboard? (: Anyway...

You've got some great thoughts going!

I noticed something...back in your blog you sent a star to a person who needed a boost. That is so Awesome! Then, reading this most recent post, I had a thought for you. You have it in you to help people--and not just help, but to uplift and strengthen. I suspect it's "your thing"--at least at the right times? An idea...perhaps the next time you're at a party or social gathering, you can think of it as your chance to find that person who needs a boost. It might be in many different ways, but you would know when you saw it, and you could fulfill it. After all, wouldn't that be more interesting then being silly and pointlessly laughing anyway? (:

Take care--from your friend who likes one-on-one much better than large crowds. (:

Just Plain Ordinary said...

I think that we are a lot alike and yet exact opposites..I hate social gatherings yet I over talk and almost end up the center of attention and I DONT want to be..at all..yet I cant stop goofin and making everyone laugh and then when I leave I get in my car and just exhale and pray for a quiet night at home..I know its not the same but somehow, I relate...see I am even rambling now...

Litiana said...

Wow, I totally know how you feel!!! I thought I was the only person :D:D
I'm just happy to know there are others like me! I hate it how rooms/places are so crowded you feel like everyone is just looking at you and the only thing you want to do is just get as far away from the crowd.
Anyways I'm glad you made it through the day!!!
take care

caterpillar said...

I get uncomfortable walking into a crowded room...but then I choose to stay hidden in some corner if I dont find any friends...I felt a bit bad for u... I hope you are feeling better...*hug*

See me. Hear me. said...

I'm the exact opposite of you. At social scenes I usually do my best. A crowd I can work, make them love me by the end of the day. Make people open easily. The problem is when I do it, sometimes it feels like its just a show I've perfected. Its not real. I can honestly admire you for always being true to yourself.

Heather Michelle said...

You are so not alone! My first day of my last job was the Thanksgiving party, I had nowhere to hide and spent the time trying to be invisible. I don't do well in crowds over 4 unless they're family and even then I spend the time feeling uncomfortable. Sigh...

STRAIGHT DUDE said...

You're gay... Cry???

SimplyStac said...

You know who you are, and that's who you are. I just fell upon your blog, and I love already! Looking forward to reading more.

Levonne said...

Dean,
I really like your writing style and your subject matter. You are very clever. I like your photos also and your drawings and scribbles. Very creative. Congratulations on being named a blog of note recently. Well deserved. Feel free to stop by my blogs if you have the time and inclination! Levonne's Pretty Pics and A Camp Host Housewife's Meanderings.

Lisa said...

I just came home from a neighborhood Christmas party where I felt... kind of invisible. I guess I should be glad no one came over to say "hi" to me since on the way home I realized I had a little boogie peeking out my nostril, lol, what a dork!

Night Time Brothers said...

Glad you didn't cry, man. Keep on keeping on ;)


- David

Margaret said...

Hi Dean,

First of all, congratulations on the Blog of Note. I also have anxiety issues that developed over the last several years. I'm sure you have heard mountains of advice and I would like to give you mine, if you don't mind. If you do not take medication to help control it, you will have to control it in your own mind. Focus on one thing at a time. One customer at a time, and politely tell the next that you will be with them in a moment. Never forget to breathe! This is very important. Learn to love yourself and who you are and you will find it a little easier to deal with the people. Be proud of your accomplishments. An artist is not who you are, but what you do. Sometimes, all it takes to relieve your anxiety around someone it to say, "Hello, how are you today?" I have been reading through some of your posts and have enjoyed them. I can't wait to have time for more and plan to make the time.

the replicant said...

I know exactly how you feel. My first impulse in that sort of environment is to get out.

Hemal said...

Not all of us our social butterflies.
some of us just don't fit in.....
some of us dont wish to fit in...
some of us are just loners....

Four said...

Parties can be so awkward. I find most of them miserable unless I have a really good friend with me. Then, I find I can bearable, but I completely understand. Hope you have a fantastic holiday!

http://fivetdsisters.blogspot.com/

FreeFlying said...

I'm a flight attendant and it's my job to be social. Every week I sit on the jumpseat for 3 days with one other person and we're supposed to all of the sudden be best friends. And I frequently wonder what's wrong with me. Why do I feel so sour, so frustrated by all the drivel? Why is silence so uncomfortable for people? What is wrong with me that I'm so irritated by this polite conversation that we all have over and over again?

I often wish that I were shy because I think that would translate to others somehow. And then I could just sit there by myself and shut up for once.

Keith said...

I like you, Dean. First time reader.

Aurelia said...

Socialising with co-workers is something I'm not a fan of either, even if I like the people I work with.

I think you need to change your perspective on the whole thing though and realise that not wanting to be in those sort of social situations isn't a bad thing. The thing about socialisation is that the people who do it, do so because they find it fun. If you don't find it fun then don't do it.

It's a hard thing, to get to a place where you're happy being you and realising that if people don't like you for who you are then that's their loss. But when you get there, you'll realise that staying away from work social events isn't going to cost you true friendships and that at the end of the day, if you're not doing things that make you happy; if you're forcing yourself into situations that you don't enjoy, then you're going to miss out on doing things that you DO enjoy.

Miranda said...

I also suffer from social anxiety, and it blows.....I recently just went to my first work christmas party for the new place I work for....and Im still the "new" girl and also "that white girl" I was in tears at the beginning searcing for a table to sit at. No one invited me over. I had to ask if seats were available at each table i went to. Felt like that scene outta Forest Gump "seat's taken" Mortifing! I ended up at an empty table so ppl were forced to sit with me eventually.....

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I think you just need to avoid such situations in the future.

Dean Grey said...

n.lea.!

I appreciate the saying!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bill!

I was soooo hungry that day but not enough to join in on the party!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Paul!

I'm definitely an introvert!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LightChaser!

Thanks for that, Dave!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nadya!

Thank you for reading it!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anonymous!

I've lost friends because of it too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

DuckieSteph!

That's sweet of you to say!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

melon!

I appreciate the words of wisdom!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Слава К.!

Теплым, если вы можете!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stacy!

Making small talk is hard for me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chander!

Wise words from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elenchus!

There were several people who noticed I wasn't at the party and when they went to come get me I told them I was too uncomfortable. It didn't help me much, I'm afraid.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Clara!

Who needs all those crowds, right?

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Crystal!

Glad I'm not the only one!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cynthia!

I'm glad my blog's theme resonates with you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brahm!

Thank you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Megan!

We're having another, smaller office party next month! OMG!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Andy!

Anxiety and depression gets worse with age!? Then I'm screwed!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nicole!

Ah, but at least you went and got that waffle!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sarah!

(^_^)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WOL!

Okay, you're on. You bring the refreshments and I'll bring the cake!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddy!

I'm glad you understand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Katie!

"Forced to socialize".

That's it right there. Feeling forced into it rather than having a say in the matter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mercedes!

A glitter bomb might work!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LuckyPenny!

Maybe there's hope for me too then, huh?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brian (Anonymous)!

I shall take little steps.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks to EVERYONE for the encouraging comments!

-Dean

Dean Grey said...

Mind Of Mine!

Don't worry about not knowing how to help, Ian. Just the fact that you want to is more than enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rebecca!

But I feel different as in "odd".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tammy!

I appreciate the prayers!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

just a though...!

So I'm OK, huh?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

blue roses!

I appreciate all the suggestions!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RAD!

I know you would.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

...shes gone mad!

Stay as long as you like!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kae. Y. R.!

I guess I wanted to try breaking out of my comfort zone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anonymous!

Tsk, tsk.

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Sarahf!

I've always wanted to visit Japan!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Mother Experiment!

I appreciate your input!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

JD!

I tried saying hi to as many people as I could.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anonymous!

Yes, I'm EXCITED to be among the Blogs of Note!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amy!

"Overwhelmed" is a good word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan!

Thank you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evan!

I've seen a therapist before. Didn't like the way it felt.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amanda!

I'm honored that you went back and read my ENTIRE blog!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BoredJoker!

Sorry to hear it's hard for you too!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Wanderer!

A plan?

But what would I do differently?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kitsune!

You go, girl!

I've got to push outside my comfort zone too!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

dennicapearl!

I try to be as genuine as I can be!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aleksandra!

I keep telling myself it's okay. Hopefully one day I'll believe it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Star!

Yes, I thought the coworker's comment was their way of including me into the group. She meant no harm. I'm aware of that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jenna!

Now that's an awesome idea!

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Just Plain Ordinary!

LOL

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Litiana!

Thanks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

caterpillar!

I'm feeling better now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

See me. Hear me.!

I think we both need to find a happy medium in between the two!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heather!

You hang in there!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

STRAIGHT DUDE!

Yes, I'm gay but I'm not sure what you meant.

Does it mean I automatically cry because I'm gay?

Hmmm.....

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SimplyStac!

I'm glad you found me!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Levonne!

I appreciate the compliments!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lisa!

Oh no! How embarrassing!!

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Night Time Brothers!

I shall keep on keeping on, David!

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Margaret!

I'll remember to breathe!

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the replicant!

Exactly. Escape while I can.

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Hemal!

Then I'm in good company, right?

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Four!

Having a friend with me would make it easier!

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FreeFlying!

Ah, but at least you get to travel!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Keith!

I like that you like me.

(~_^)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aurelia!

I definitely need to change my perspective on it!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Miranda!

That sounds awful!

(((HUGS)))

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ken!

You might be right about that!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

All of your wonderful comments are greatly appreciated!

-Dean

Pazecrit said...

Wow, I can't believe it, but I must say that I always felt the same in such situations.

I'm kind of surprised. Frankly, your posts have always made me imagine you as quite an extrovert. Not that introversion is a negative thing, since I am one as well.

For me, the hardest part is leaving without getting noticed. Perhaps they never do notice, but for reason, I always feel as if I have to sneak out instead of just walking straight out the door during those sort of situations.

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

You would never, ever, know it by talking to me, but I HATE those parties, too! Never feel comfortable. GLAD I don't have a job that I have to attend. I joined a great art club this year and don't have the guts to go to the Christmas party!
But when I'm IN those situations I play a game. I pretend I'm an actress, who is paying someone who IS comfortable at those gatherings. It doesn't work 100%, but even 50% is better than what I really feel.
HEY... tell that moron who made that comment that they do not HAVE to eat your salad or goodies - right? Anyway, part of it is those are not your real friends. Take out your armor and let their stupid remarks bounce off. You're better than them. :)

Charlotte said...

Hey. Just something that MIGHT (might) be a piece of advice. However you feel, you're never alone. You just need to learn to chill with it, and suddenly it will be much easier.
Promise!

(Maybe not the first or the second time, but suddenly you learn to chill, and then it's all ok, because you've found some corner with people who get you.)

Cheers from DK :)
C.

Sleep_Deprived_Momma said...

Just recently found your blog (and it wasn't even because of blogs of note! lol) and just wanted to tell you that I enjoy your writing. You mix humor and being serious very well. Please don't ever stop writing!

Janet :-)

Dean Grey said...

Pazecrit!

Oh yes. In real life I'm really rather shy and introverted.

I'm more "outgoing" on my blog because it's online instead of face-to-face. I feel safer here, I guess.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kelley!

Pretending to be comfortable in those situations might work for me.

The thing is, the very first office party I went to was with one of my very good friends (at the time) and I still cried!

I'm just a big mess, huh?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Charlotte!

I appreciate the advice!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sleep_Deprived_Momma!

That's a wonderful compliment!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks to all of you for your input!

-Dean

Anonymous said...

How interesting that someone who is young, handsome, and very talented would have the same feelings as an old, fat, untalented lady! The problem is that I wasn't always old and fat, but I always had a problem (and still do) with socializing. The bigger problem is when the socializing is with people I know! Small groups (2-3) are easier to handle than large groups (4+). Groups of strangers are much easier.

Dean Grey said...

Anonymous!

I guess we both have to work on our social skills, huh?

-Dean

martha miller said...

Hi Dean

Did I already tell you about the book "The Highly Sensitive Person"? A good read. I think some of us creative types get overwhelmed easily and quickly because we take so much in at once, and get stimulous overload. I actually often feel faint at art openings, when I have to stand and talk! Years ago I was in a really great support group for people with anxiety issues, and there were MANY folks in that room who had social phobias. The facilitators gave them homework to do each week, such as go shopping at one store, or attending the office party, or what have you. Sometimes they'd report the next week that they were able to do it, sometimes they couldn't, and had to try again, with more phone support from people in the group. Point is, it's great that you went, even though it was difficult! I have learned to invent some strategies that help me, such as simply sitting down by myself and taking a time out at an art opening! Sometimes a thing as simple as that is what makes it possible for me to stay through an event that feels sressful. You know, you could use this blog to help prepare yourself for an upcoming event. Share your anxiety about it here first, get supportive feedback, then when you go to the event, you'll have all these cheerleaders traveling with you! xo

OpinionatedLady said...

This is my first time reading your blog. I have to say a big THANK YOU for posting this. I generally feel the same way when I'm at work functions. Maybe it's because I know that I don't fit in with this group of people and this job is just a stepping stone to something much, much better.

Anyway, I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in this. I'm glad to read that you made it through the day. Stay strong!

Anonymous said...

Was checking out blogspot and stumbled upon your site. So glad I did. Sometimes I'm sociable and talkative in parties and get togethers, but sometimes I feel the same as you and clam up. I don't know...I'm still trying to figure myself out. But it's a big relief to see that a lot of people tend to be introverted and are ok with it. It takes a lot of guts to be this honest. Kudos!

Cat said...

I just discovered your blog (Blog of Notes, yes) and liked it very much. I just wanted to say I sympathise with you, I am terrible in groups and can't find anything to say either to a point where I get totally bored and make everybody uncomfortable and feel guilty, which makes me feel uncomfortable and feel guilty, which is when I leave.

By the amounts of comments you get I am sure you already knew you weren't alone in those feelings but there, one more can't hurt :)

Anonymous said...

Lol, I feel your pain. I'm a co-op student, so I haven't been to parties, but at lunches or just in general, it can be awkward... like majorly awkward, especially if there aren't other students and you are the only one under 25.. I've had a few of those =S but kinda funny to look back upon them now...
I've definitely become more social now than before, so I handle it slightly better... but there is still moments of sheer distress... Sigh, and I dont think I will get over this, that's the sad part. Once socially awkward, forever socially awkward..
Just a thought though, I generally find it goes quite well if you talk about things happening in the world, everyone always has something to say.. just some random tidbits that you came across while reading or in the news..

Dean Grey said...

Martha!

Yes, you already told me about that book but I never got around to checking it out. Sorry.

Maybe I'm resisting?

A support group for people scared of groups!? Sounds scary. LOL

I do appreciate the suggestions though!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

OpinionatedLady!

You are quite welcome!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anonymous!

It's surprising to see how many others have similar feelings about crowds!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cat!

That's a big part of it for me too.

I think when I'm in social situations I'm comfortable which in turn makes others uncomfortable. So I feel I'm better off by myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anonymous!

Talking about current events/news, huh?

I may have to give that a try!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

All of your thoughts on this are greatly appreciated!

-Dean

stranded on earth said...

I had this happen to me at an office christmas party several years ago, except after i left the party i cried my heart out. I am always shy and awkward but this was the worst I had ever felt. I realized that all those times, I suspected I had a problem, I was right. I felt so helpless, so alone and abnormal, I called my clinic's mental health dept, wanting to go see someone for help, which is very unlike me. I did go in to see someone, which was excruciatingly painful. She gave me some meds, which I did pick up, but I dumped it all. Thanks for your post. I'm happy to know there are others like me.

Dean Grey said...

stranded on earth!

I know how being helpless, alone, and abnormal feels.

Big (((HUGS))) to you!

-Dean

Dean Scott said...

I so totally relate. I hate small talk. The bad thing is at one point my division had around 50 people and I had to HOST the party.

I made it through pretending it was one of the training sessions that I taught. I can get up in front of people and talk business. I can't get up and talk small talk.

I opened the party by saying, "You know me well enough to know I don't like doing this and I know you well enough to know you did not come here to listen to me talk. Let's eat."

I got a standing ovation.

Dean Grey said...

Dean!

Food is such a good diversion tactic!

-Dean