Something told me to accept this offer from my partner who has constantly invited me to various social gatherings such as this one. If there’s anything about my partner understanding my social anxiety, it’s that he tries to be as helpful as he can, and in some cases, that’s asking me out to go places, such as tonight.
Although my body wanted to say no and blame it on my SAD, I knew that I couldn’t say no to everything in this world. That’s not reasonable. Also, it’s not fun being the 25-year-old woman that doesn’t enjoy her twenties while they’re still here.
To be quite honest, I loved going to parties when I was younger, and when I mean younger, I mean birthday parties for my friends and all of the proms I attended whenever I was graduating and stuff. I always enjoyed the loud music playing, being on the dance floor with my friends and dancing whenever a good song came on and just having those excited butterflies in your stomach anticipating the actual party that’s coming. Then, all of that change when I was in my late teens. I became more closed in, to the point where I hated to go out to places with even the people I enjoyed being around. When I was 22, I even tried to break that old habit of never going to parties, but that totally ended in me experiencing one of the first (and many more to come) anxiety attacks.
For a while, the people who knew me best just stopped invited me to go places, and even though it was because they already knew the answer that I was going to give them, it still hurt. Getting the invitation at least showed me that people still wanted to hang out with me, but when I didn’t, I just began to feel like a burden to everyone around me. Me not going out to places came with its consequences when I got into my twenties, and slowly but surely my friends kept leaving to go hang out with their other, more extroverted friends.
So when I got that message from my partner asking me if I wanted to go to a party just a couple of hours before it would happen, I said, “yes, I’ll go.”
Of course, the anxiety seeped in as soon as I committed to going:
It was just a whirlwind of thoughts that didn’t stop until I had to take control of my mind and my body. For one, I had to tell myself that I’m going with a person that I trust enough to be there with me for most of the night. If anything were to happen like an anxiety attack, at least there was someone who knows me well enough to know when I need to go outside and take a breather. Secondly, I had to trust in the risk. Anxiety, for me at least, loves to believe that I just have this never-ending bad luck and if I go against my comfort zone or anything that I’m familiar with, things will go bad. Taking this risk meant that I was putting myself out there in a position for potentially bad (yet great) things. I also had to tell myself nobody is really in there paying any attention to you in the first place; people are there to have some fun and celebrate at a party! Nobody is in there secretly hating you, (and if they are, so what?) But for the most part, you’re not the center of attention, so relax. Lastly, I had to tell myself that I’m only young once in my life, and going out to enjoy myself isn’t a crime, but a good thing! The more fun I have and more times I take risks like this, the happier and more comfortable I’m going to get being in these types of atmospheres.
With everything in mind, I went to the party and had a really good time. A couple of beers, two nasty shots that both my partner and I wished we never had, dancing, and a Philly cheese steak with fries later, I ended the night really proud of myself.
The success on how this night went isn’t even towards the fact that I didn’t have an anxiety attack during the party, it’s the fact that despite all of the anxious thoughts my mind and body were having, I still got up and went. Coping with SAD will always be something I’ll be working on, and for me to take this step forward to actually accept an invitation to a social gathering, it’s another step forward of me learning how to handle both my mental health and my life. This time last year, you wouldn’t catch me dead inside anyone’s damn social gathering yet alone a party for someone I didn’t know personally. And that’s why it’s such a victory for me: I got to be in control for one night, while my social anxiety was forced to go with the flow and let me take back that control.
So, yeah: I went to a party, and it’s simply one of the proudest things I’ve done thus far this year.