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Every morning before kindergarten, my mom would have to medicate me with a vitamin C tablet that she lovingly convinced me was a “brave pill” because even at the age of five, my social anxiety needed addressing. Honestly, how was I expected to mingle with these kindergarten heathens in light-up sneakers whose past-times included blowing snot bubbles and having sticky fingers?
I was popping those brave pills like I was Charlie Sheen.
Unfortunately, I eventually had to face the facts that my vice was merely a placebo, and I was forced to confront the truth: I might as well have been raised by wolves because I don’t know to function in everyday human situations.
I often read Facebook statuses prefaced by “that awkward moment when…” and shake my head in disdain. These ignorant souls feel the need to share their so-called awkward moments that usually involve a mild trip or unnoticeable slip of the tongue. “That awkward moment between my birth and my death” is more accurate for myself. I’ll take you through a typical day in the life of a social pariah, and you can tell me if I’m being too dramatic.
I begin getting ready for my day with a general grooming routine. I apply a bit of make-up, but I’m sure that my face is no longer the “beige beauty” it once was. The winter has undoubtedly caused it to pale which means that my face is most likely streaked with a dark, uncharacteristically orange flesh tone. I head out for class, positive that everyone I encounter is judging me for my fly-away hairs and slight pigeon-toed stride. Then I feel conceited and ashamed for thinking that anyone is noticing me at all. I’m so pre-occupied by these conflicting thoughts that I wind up losing track of time and arrive at class five minutes late. My hand hovers over the door knob as I deliberate subjecting myself to the hell of bursting into a full, already-engaged classroom and clamoring around for an empty seat.
I already missed class for a mental health day last week, so I have no choice but to enter. Upon opening the door, I am assured that every pair of eyes is condemning my orange face and tardy arrival. I hyperventilate all the way to the sole empty desk and vow to drop out of school tomorrow.
The rest of the day is an anxiety-ridden blur full of sweaty palms, heart palpitations and the overwhelming fear of small talk. The very thought of awkwardly discussing the weather with a vague acquaintance makes me dry heave which conveniently makes for a great excuse to end any hypothetical conversations. I consider any dry heave-free day a success.
As a self-diagnosed high-functioning socially inept individual, my radar for others with similar anxiety issues is extremely accurate. As things like text messaging, video chats and instant messaging continue to destroy our abilities to comfortably interact with other humans, I’ve noticed an increasing amount of social suffering, so I thought I’d offer my expertise.
When the idea of stepping out into the dark sphere of public places makes you break out into a cold sweat, you must repeatedly remind yourself that nobody cares enough about you to pay you all of the negative attention you assume they are doing. Before you plummet into a dark depression, let me clarify in saying that I’m sure plenty of people care about you. Those that already find you somewhat tolerable, however, will not care that your make-up is a shade too dark or that you walk funny. Those that have not had the pleasure of meeting you are too concerned about their own weird insecurities that nobody else would notice to acknowledge yours.
If that age-old advice is too cliché for you, then my last token of wisdom is to realize how ridiculous you’re being and laugh it off. Your biggest concern of the day is having a thirty second conversation with someone about the weather warming up. I think you’re going to be okay.
If you’d like to further discuss these panicky problems, perhaps we can chat about coping with and overcoming our day to day struggles—over the Internet, of course, in the sanctities of our own homes.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lizzy Hernandez at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.