Yeah, a sense of belonging can go a long way.
I couldnt believe how much it changed things. After all these years of facing society alone, I finally had someone in my corner. Of course, my co-workers didnt have a clue. Im sure they would have considered that awful strange.
Nevertheless, there I was, standing in the foyer, checking out the people that were already there. I didnt recognize anyone from work; most of the guests were my bosss acquaintances, I guessed.
As with any party, people seemed loud and boisterous; but only if you took in the whole thing all at once. I was sure that Id at least be able to get in on a few conversations. And that was one of my goals: To try and take part in at least 2 conversations with people I had not met before – scary stuff. Other than that, I had two things I wanted to concentrate on:
Making an effort. Yes, I know, it sounds very obvious, but it really was one of my biggest hurdles. I absolutely had to start making an effort – without this, nothing would happen.
I needed to stop my perfectionist way of thinking and allow myself to make mistakes. Everyone else made mistakes, so why hold a gun to my own head? If I somehow managed to do this, it would take a lot of pressure off.
Ok, so I knew what to do, I just had to get out there and do it.
Have you ever noticed how great things can look in the planning stage, and then when it comes down to reality, things are different and a whole lot more intimidating? That was exactly what happened next. I started feeling the old familiar anxiety and caught myself drifting into my own negative thoughts.
I tore away instantly and forced my head up to have a look around. I needed something I could use as a distraction – anything. Fortunately, I was able to think back to a few minutes ago when we were all laughing hysterically outside. This brought a smile to my face and reassured me that I had friends here. My anxiety subsided instantly. I dont know what would have happened had I been alone (run?).
A very interesting thing happened at that moment. In fact, I would say it was one of the biggest realizations I had every experienced. In a moment of utter clarity, I realized that my anxiety was affecting my friends. Even though I was certain that there were no outward signs, my negativity was picked up by both my friends.
This was not a coincidence. I was looking at both of them – one minute they were smiling and laughing without a care in the world; the next minute they were quiet and serious looking. This change happened within seconds of my panic attack. Again, I honestly dont think my facial expression changed. But then again, I was a million miles away.
I felt so bad about ruining things for everyone, but quickly realized that I could still turn the situation around. After all, nothing had been said. Yes, maybe they saw the anxiety on my face, or caught some bad vibes, but theyd forget about that soon enough. So, I decided to carry on as if nothing happened – and wouldnt you know it, things were back to normal within minutes.
Well, as normal as could be expected, anyway. Unfortunately, the whole episode left me with a bit of a red face. Now, my blushing problem is fairly noticeable – at least it seems that way to me – maybe its not as bad as I think it is. In any case, it comes up very fast and goes away very slowly. So now I had another problem.
On the positive side, it was a perfect opportunity to ditch my perfectionist mindset. After all, how could I be perfect when my face was so red?