Community//

Confessions of the Socially Anxious: It’s Not Your Job to Carry Me

Be a Puppy, Not a Fish

I have a friend who feels awkward in my social circles. They’re my friends, not hers, she says. And, no matter my efforts to draw her in, she bounces off the circle. It’s frustrating, like an awkward dance, where I offer an opening, but my partner doesn’t step closer.

Boom.

It hit me. I do this EXACT thing. I want friends to hold my hand and neatly insert me into their social circles. Hello, I’m the new person, I think. This is awkward, so please do all the work for me, Insider Friend. And, it annoys me when my Insider pierces the iron social circle and leaves me to fend for myself.

I’M NOT A HELPLESS BABE

Well, here I am on the other side, realizing how equally annoying it is when others expect me to carry them like a helpless babe into my circles. If I don’t carry them? Well, they’ll give up with “I don’t belong here anyways”. I know, because I do the same.

See, I’ve gotten lazy since moving back near my family. I use them as a crutch. My husband too. I lean on them, so I don’t have to do the hard work of shoving myself into social circles and possibly being rejected.

Rejection. Ah, what a terrifying word.

Another danger word? Can’t.

I’ve gotten out of practice, socially. I’ve withdrawn into the all-consuming cyclical struggle and victory of my family. So, of course, I don’t have much time for friends. And, I don’t live in my own home, so it’s hard to invite. And I don’t have a vehicle. And my husband’s always traveling for work…

Excuses. Excuses. How ye grow on trees.

TWO EPIPHANIES:

1. IT’S NOT MY JOB TO CARRY YOU

I need to provide openings into my circles and invite people in. But, I can’t force them to enter. I can’t force them to feel accepted. I CAN invite, introduce, accept and embrace. Then, it’s up to them to accept the invitation, be brave and just TRY.

2. BE A PUPPY, NOT A FISH

On my end, I need to be bold. Walk right up to social circles and dive right in, unannounced. Some might reject me, but I have a feeling many would embrace me – thrilled they don’t have to draw me in like a bucking, slippery fish. I have fished before and it is tough work (also, I rarely have the patience to catch anything).

Do I know how to insert myself into social circles?

Sure.

“Hey! I’m Brit! What’s your name? Let’s be friends!”

Do I know how to do it all smooth and suave?

Nope. I’m awkward as all get out. But, that’s because I’m out of practice.

TEN-STEPS-BACK POSITION

Blegh. Everything is like exercise. You work your butt off for months to gain abs, just to lose them to blubbergut after mere days of “taking a break”. Two steps forward, one step back turns into two steps forward, ten steps back if you ever take a break or stop moving forward.

Socially, I’m currently in the ten-steps-back position. And it’s tempting to let myself keep sliding, because walking up mountains all day, every day, is hard. Especially when those mountains keep getting taller and steeper.

But, I believe relationships are the point of life. Connection requires patience and discipline, with yourself and everyone else. It’s all hard work, but it’s the only ticket to true happiness.

I know that. I just forget/ get distracted sometimes. So don’t mind this awkward fish over here, trying to remember how to be a puppy.

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