One of the worst things about living in an apartment is having to go out to do my weekly laundry. What I wouldn’t give for a washer and dryer of my own. Of course, I’m not the only one that has to put up with this minor inconvenience. There are thousands of people in this city that make the same trip down to the local laundromat each week.
Actually, I don’t really mind getting out because it gives me an opportunity to practice some of my social skills. You never really know who you’re going to meet in these places. Don’t get me wrong, I still find the experience a little uncomfortable, but nothing compared to what it used to be. There were times when I literally ran out of clothes because I was too uncomfortable to haul my butt down there. Kind of sad really.
Even to this day, the whole experience is still slightly uncomfortable. I don’t know what it is exactly.
From the moment I walk in the door, I feel as though everyone in the place is staring at me. As I load up the machines with my laundry and go through the whole routine, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being centered out.
Now, I’ve made enough improvement in the last little while to realize that this is simply in my head. In fact, I now force myself to look around casually just to see if it’s true or not. Although I sometimes get a few people staring at me, most are just reading the newspaper or staring at their clothes in the dryer. Those who are staring at me obviously don’t have much of a life and every movement I make seems to be of great interest to them. To be honest, they stare at everyone and Ive since stopped worrying about them.
Sitting around an environment like this is really great “real-world” experience. There are so many different personalities and opportunities to try out some of my social strategies.
I would give this venue an above average rating as far as anxiety goes. The reason for this is that you’ve got a bunch of strangers sitting around waiting for their clothes to finish with nothing to do. This is probably not the ideal place to be if you suffer from social anxiety.
When I first started going there, I would make sure that I brought a couple of newspapers to bury my face in so I wouldn’t have to talk or look at anyone. However, recently, I’ve started to leave the newspaper at home and take my chances with whatever happens.
Sometimes striking up a conversation with a stranger is effortless. I think this has more to do with their personality than mine. Some people just seem so open and friendly that talking to them is a pleasure.
Quite often, though, I end up simply sitting and staring at my cloths in the machines.
One valuable lesson I’ve learned here is that the only people I am able to strike up a conversation with are those who are more outgoing and friendly. These are the people that will smile and acknowledge my presence even though they’ve never met me before. In fact, I’ve even found myself starting conversations with them – and I almost never do that.
As for the others, I’m hesitant to even look their way because they seem very serious and non-receptive to a friendly glance, smile, or a few cheerful words.
Here’s the kicker: I could easily be one of these people. They exhibit the same personality traits and serious facial expressions that I did (and still do, to some extent). I was exactly like that (standoffish, unfriendly, and sometimes mean looking). Of course, this wasn’t really who I was – social anxiety just made me look that way.
Is it possible that there could be sparkling personalities under their antisocial exterior? Perhaps all that is needed is for someone to bite the bullet and make the first move? Unfortunately, I don’t have the outgoing personality to find out – I wish I did.