Anxiety Girl: The party guest you probably didn’t even know was there

Photo by Trinity  Kubassek from Pexels 

Social anxiety has always been the bane of my existence. And it’s not discreet. Almost always someone else is aware that something is wrong. More often than not, they just think I’m being weird or antisocial.

Or maybe no one actually notices, and that’s all in my head…

Take, for instance, the retirement party I had to throw yesterday. It’s part of my job. I put the whole thing together – ordered the food and drinks, cut the cake, presented the retirement gift, socialized with the guests… it was torture.

This is the third party I’ve had to organize since starting my job as an administrative assistant at a community college, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a few gals volunteer to help me out each time. That takes a bit of the pressure off.

The actual organization of the party isn’t the problem. A lot of it can be done online – oh how I love hiding behind the safety of the interwebs!

The actual set-up and execution are the parts I hate. The whole time I’m setting up the area I’m stressing over whether or not I’m doing it right. What if people think the layout is stupid? What if I put the cake in the wrong spot on the table and people really want to get their drinks first? What if I put balloons on the tables and everyone thinks it looks childish? What if they all think I didn’t do enough?

And then there’s the part where I have to interact with the guests. This is the stuff of my nightmares. You dream about the boogeyman? I dream about having to talk to people. I have to cut the cake – I suck at cutting cake. It’s always a mess and I feel like they’re all judging me for my lack of cake-cutting skills. It doesn’t help that they’re all standing around me watching because they want to eat the cake. Yesterday I went to the bathroom to wash my hands afterward and realized I had a piece of white icing on my eyebrow. No one told me! They must all think I’m a freak, mashing icing into my face while I cut it!

Okay, so they probably don’t think that. But in my head, they’re all definitely thinking it.

Anxiety says they are.

Once everyone has their cake and punch and they’ve all started congregating around the area, discussing what the guest of honor will do after retirement, how they wish they were retiring, and basically killing time until they absolutely have to go back to their desks, I can relax.  And by relax I mean sit in a puddle of anxiousness, surrounded by people, waiting for them all to leave so I can start cleaning up. During the last few parties, I’ve sat with a few coworkers I’m reasonably comfortable with and tried to blend into the background.

Yesterday, my two security blanket coworkers left the party early, leaving me helpless and alone. I hid at my desk. Unfortunately, my desk is facing a glass wall directly in front of where the party was, so everyone could see me sitting there instead of being part of the party I put together. Anxiety told me everyone was staring at me, thinking I’m a freak for sitting at my desk instead of socializing.

My brain doubts anyone even noticed me sitting in the office. Anxiety likes to tell me that not only does everyone care what I’m doing and they’re all judging me for it, but also that no one likes me. You’d think if no one likes me, they wouldn’t care what I’m doing… but Anxiety doesn’t have to make sense.

So, that’s the story of how I’m a blast to have at parties. The Incredible Anxiety Girl! Watch her melt into a puddle of anxious goo while everyone points and laughs!

And yet afterward more than one coworker came by to say I did a great job.

They must not have noticed me hiding behind my desk.


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