Anxiety Can Ruin a Good Moment
I take meds for my anxiety, but I still get anxious. Because the meds have done a good job for me, I assume what’s left of my anxiousness is just human nature and it’s not worth fretting about.
I think anyone can relate to the idea of anxiousness when it’s put into a context of “something big is about to happen and I’m anxious about it.”
But, what doesn’t get spoken about often is the other side of anxiousness. Something big has already happened or things are going really well and I STILL feel the need to get out of it.
I notice this in myself when my brain starts to tell me to run away from a good conversation that’s happening.
It happened to me recently and I’m trying to work it out.
(Welcome to the main reason I write– to work stuff out)
I met someone I’ve respected for years. It’s normal to be anxious about that.
But, meeting him wasn’t the problem. It was the amount of interest that he seemed to have in continuing to talk to me. Most people that you respect you might introduce yourself to, then they politely speak to you for a few minutes (if you’re lucky) and then you’re out of it. And you get to tell others how you met your hero. They don’t spend a lot of time on you because they need to go about their business and, typically, there are other people to meet, talk to.
But, I found myself in a situation where not only were we talking for a long period of time, but when he left to go to the bathroom he pointedly said
“I’m not leaving, I’ll be back to talk to you. This isn’t an ‘out’ moment.’”
What a goddamn delightful thing to say to someone.
But, it shocked the hell out of me. All of a sudden I, realized I was actually the one looking for the ‘out’. As we spoke to each other, I was feeling dread. Dread that the moment was going to end — correction, like I needed it to end.
At some point he was going to realize I was a fraud or someone not really worth speaking to, right?
While he was in the bathroom I sort of ran away. “Surely, he didn’t mean what he said, right?” He said it to seem nice, but really it WAS an out moment. Going to the bathroom is the oldest trick in the book when you’re ready to quit a conversation with someone.
Standing there, unsure of what to do or who to trust (his words or my brain) I moseyed on over to someone else and started a conversation with them.
I didn’t not want to talk to him anymore, but I didn’t want him to feel like he had to talk to me. I guess. Or maybe, in some dark and twisted way it was a test to see if what he said was true– that he actually did want to keep talking to me.
When he came out of the bathroom I saw him in my peripheral, he grabbed his beer and looked around — nervously.
He was looking for me.
Now I felt bad, stupid and I was embarrassed.
Why did I feel the need to put him in this situation because of my own stupid feelings of trying to get out of a conversation I was actually enjoying and wanted to keep going?
In my shame, I waved him over to the new group and introduced him to everyone else.
We stood there awkwardly for a moment — I felt like I had betrayed this person. He was actually counting on me to be where he left me, so that he didn’t have to nervously find someone else to talk to.
He was insecure, like me.
Like we all are.
It seemed like we all stood there for ages, though I’m sure it was just a few seconds. I asked a question in hopes of it helping us all get on the same page quickly and find common ground. Someone speak, please!
I felt relief once others began to talk.
Soon, we were all engaged and the discussion was able to continue as though it had never stopped.
Throughout the night, I kept looking for an out.
Eventually, it came.
We said our goodbyes and I reveled in the fact that someone that I had tremendous respect for, and that does similar things that I do, spent their time talking to me.
But, I also recognized something that I hope will force me to be better in future similar situations.
I may even steal his line of ‘this isn’t an out’ when I’m in a conversation and need a moment to collect myself.
Will I try to leave future conversations that are going really well? Probably. But, maybe next time I’ll handle my anxiety a little bit better.