I went back to the club that I used to go every weekend with my best friend, Jeff, for the very first time since he passed away.
I was on a mission.
I had to do it alone.
I always want to share with you the personal struggles I go through and how I try and navigate them, so maybe some of these tips might help you guys, too.
I smeared on black eyeliner, red lipstick and pinned broken pearls into my hair.
I drove 45 minutes.
“Wish You Were Here” came on the radio.
I sang along loudly and rolled down the windows.
I was very aware of the empty seat next to me
after all those years of doing this drive together.
and I stayed in the car for 10 minutes
seized with fear.
What the hell am I doing?
Maybe I should just turn around…..
go home and close the door on this.
But I got out of the car and walked in the club.
Nothing had changed in the years it’s been since I was last here with Jeff.
Here’s the different things that pulled me away from crying and sulking by myself in a corner and I wanted to share:
♥ Act Like You Own It, Bitch.
Tip: Words are Wands – our minds can tear us apart with them, or build us up. Think something wildly bold, something that you would never say out loud even and keep repeating it in your mind…like “I OWN this place”. Now notice what it does for your body language. I bet you’re not slumping down anymore, right?
Real Life Story: I show up and there’s exactly 8 people there. I sit by myself against the wall. Everyone else was there with a friend or in a group of people. I immediately felt out of place, super self-conscious and social anxiety was seeping in. I had to keep thinking to myself “I belong here, I belong here, I belong here”. Saying those things in my mind, made me sit up straight, made me feel more confident than I was and made me feel better. Before I was kind of hunching back, hiding myself in a corner and it was miserable.
Act like you own the place and you go from that sad kid in the corner to that mysterious figure that people are intrigued by. It takes a lot of guts to sit alone!
♥ Make It A Game.
Tip: Challenge yourself to do something daring.
Real Life Story: After I sat in the corner for an hour and the dance floor finally started getting going – I challenged myself. During the next five songs, I challenged myself to pick one to dance to – no matter what. Then I could leave if I wasn’t feeling it, but at least I wanted to push myself to try.
♣ Do Something – Make a Move, Bust a Move, Action Will Keep You in the Moment.
Tip: Make some action happen! With social anxiety – you need to force it into the corner by doing some action of your own – jump on that dance floor, get up and talk to that person, leap into a group conversation, go grab some drinks for the crowd, do something.
Real Life Story: Finally, Nine Inch Nails came on over the speakers and I moved myself along to the dance floor. I was nervous at first, looking down at my feet, blocking everything out. Then all of a sudden, I wasn’t worried about what other people thought, I was in my own world, back in the place I had danced with my friend, Jeff for so many years. It felt like home.
♥ Make Eye Contact with Others.
Tip: Let other people know that you are open to adventure with eye contact. If you’re by yourself – most times a group will pull you in to the fun if you just keep making occasional eye contact.
Real Life Story: As the club started to fill up, I watched while friends and regulars would tackle hug each other on the dance floor. I found myself wishing I knew these people and wishing I could be a part of their friend group. All of a sudden, I felt super alone again, missing Jeff and wondering what I was doing there.
A bunch of them were dancing right near me and I kept being brave and making eye contact. As the next song started, suddenly one of them grabbed me by the hands and pulled me in to dance. Next thing you know, I was dancing like mad with 7 new friends as we hurled each other around on the dance floor.
We closed the club down at 4am.
PS – If you’re one of the kickass people that I met at Respectables on Saturday…thank you. You helped me more than you know.
So what do you guys do when social anxiety hits? Please share in the comments – I want to hear your secrets and tips, too.