Our company Christmas party took place a few weeks ago. I estimate that there were about 80-100 people there. Fortunately, my boss has a huge house so, although there was a large number in attendance, it wasnt crowded and you still had room to walk around.
The restaurant employs 14 people, including me, so you can assume that I didnt know everyone in attendance (ha). The rest of the party goers consisted of my co-workers spouses, my bosss family, and some of his close friends and neighbors.
I suppose it would have been nice if we had a get-together just for the staff, but that wouldnt have been much of a challenge. Besides, this home was built for entertaining. It would have been a shame to waste it.
Though I was glad to have this opportunity to try out some of my new skills, I couldnt shake that familiar feeling I usually get before an event like this. Just like clockwork, a few days before the party, I started feeling the old familiar doubts, insecurities, and nervousness. At one point, I felt like faking sick and cancelling the whole thing. After all, who was I trying to fool? They would see right through me, and Id wind up embarrassed and humiliated. I didnt know how this would happen, but I felt strongly that it would.
Now, in previous years, that feeling would have defeated me. I would have obsessed about things while fear and anxiety kept a tight grip on me until I gave in and decided not to attend.
Although that sickeningly familiar feeling was there this time, it seemed that I was able to ride out the storm and find other things to occupy my mind with. This was accomplished by simply getting out of the apartment.
Somehow, it seemed that I was able to easily overcome the anxiety this time. I was honestly surprised. Could that have been an indicator of better times ahead? Whatever it was, I took it as a sign that things would be fine at the party.
I got a ride to my bosss house with two of my co-workers. I planned it this way because it is a lot easier walking into someones home (and into the midst of 50 strangers) if you are not alone. I admit that we were making fun of the fact that my boss was able to buy this place with the profits he made off the restaurant, while the rest of us lived in apartments, or with parents. I dont know why we found this funny (kinda sad, really), but it was all I needed to put me in the right mood to socialize.
Once we arrived at the front door, we tried to compose ourselves. Actually, we couldnt look at each other without laughing, so we stared straight ahead. I dont know what was so funny, but it went a long way to taking off the edge. I actually felt great considering the fact that there was a loud party on the other side of the door.
I felt no anxiety at all – very strange.
Now, I knew Id been feeling better after all the work Id been doing on my social anxiety, but that would not have been enough to allow me to relax like this – something else was happening.
When I finally figured it out, we had already gone through the front door and were taking off our coats.
I didnt feel alone.
That was it! I wasnt alone walking into that environment. Isnt it amazing how much of a difference that could make. It wasnt Drew against an evil world – it was a group of people arriving at a party.
Nothing strange about that.